You've decided to do it - start your own business, and you're going to be online. It's quite a step, and one to be proud of. But how do you choose who is going to host your site?
Now, if you have a website designer who also provides hosting, that is one easy option. It may not be the best one, however, so take a good look at your options before committing to anything.
First, you want to assess your needs. Will you be a plain HTML site, or will you include features such as ecommerce, database or discussion boards? You want your hosting company to support the features you need at a cost you can afford. Some hosts will not let you have Flash or music running on your site, as they take up bandwidth. Be realistic, and don't worry if the host offers more than you need if the price is right. Make sure you are given enough bandwidth, web space, email addresses and so forth. Will you be using autoresponders? It's nice to have your own rather that using a free or paid one elsewhere. Popular features you may not know you need support for yet from your host include PHP, MySQL and CGI scripts (they should at least allow you to have forms on your site, if not add your own).
Next, consider whether you are going to be doing your own design and promotion or hiring someone to do that. Some hosting companies offer an incredible value in that area. If you want to build your own site, it may pay to spend some extra money on the hosting, and save on the promotion by getting a host with tools to help you.
Also consider whether or not the hosting company includes a domain name for you in the price. This is a relatively minor cost these days, often under $15 per year, but it's nice to have the savings.
You may also want to consider how long the company has been around. If they're a new reseller, do you know if they're going to be in business a year or even a month from now? You are generally better off going with a company that is well established. They should guarantee at least 99.9% uptime and have a reimbursement plan if they fail to achieve that. Small companies also may not offer 24/7 support, which can be disastrous if there is a problem. Make sure they will register your domain name in your name, not theirs, or you may be dealing with a lot of trouble later.
Finally, take into consideration how much you can afford to spend on hosting for your site. Do you want to have your hosting month-to-month, or can you afford an annual plan. Companies which offer the month-to-month option often offer a discount for annual contracts, and since your domain name is annual, this may make the most sense for you. Watch out for high setup costs. It doesn't take much effort for the hosting company to set up a site, so this fee should be under $10, or even nonexistent.
Don't want or don't need all the extra help SiteSell give you? I use a few hosting companies, but my two favorites are Dreamhost and A2. Dreamhost allows you to host unlimited domains, and gives an amazing amount of bandwidth and disc space. However, it has some limitations that can make using certain scripts difficult or nearly impossible.
Take a look at Dreamhost
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