How do I find a good, shared Web host?
Consumers can find an excellent shared hosting provider by utilizing host
directories or by directly soliciting Web hosting firms for comments on their
Using hosting directories is a highly recommended strategy, because such
sites aggregate a tremendous amount of information about the hosting industry
and its participants. By leveraging a host directory, regular consumers can
contrast and compare the different features of several Web hosting firms.
The most credible hosting directories contain a collection of hundreds to
thousands of Web hosts. These catalogues allow you to search for hosts that
match specified criteria, whether it is based on cost, technology or geography.
Most of the more sophisticated hosting directories also include an "advanced
search" options that allows consumers to fine tune their hosting requirements.
Users of these resources must be cautious and exercise due diligence however.
Some directories only allow paid advertisers in their catalogues, making the
directory non-meritorious in composition. Consumers will thus want to be aware
of how the list is compiled, updated and what criteria are utilized, especially
if the site offers a top ten or twenty ranking.
Many hosting companies only conceive of hosting directories as marketing
channels. For this reason, some disreputable hosting companies and executives
have developed, purchased or even influenced certain hosting directories to
boost their own revenues. Consumers must therefore exercise caution and evaluate
a multiplicity of hosting directories before selecting one to assist in making
Too often, a directory will actually sell the most popular listings to
various hosts who are willing to pay top-dollar for an award or recognition.
Consumers should thus make no correlation between an award and quality.
Kudos, awards and recognition are indicators that a host has financial
resources to advertising online, but does not indicate whether the host offers
credible and reliable quality-of-service.
Not all awards and recognition are purchased advertisement however. When
recognition is not purchased, then you only need to inquire how the host was
specifically selected for an award. This can usually be determined from an
evaluation formula that is posted on the Web site.
Consumers should also note that many hosting directories not only offer a
large list of hosts, but also detailed information about the host's features,
price ranges and provide consumers with the ability to compare hosts again each
More sophisticated hosting directories will also include in-depth articles,
message forms, evaluation tools and even promotional campaigns that will save
you money with the most credible hosting firms. These features are also
important because they allow consumers to obtain more in-depth and personalized
information about a hosting firm.
Another strategy that should be employed in order to find a quality shared
Web host is direct correspondence. The concerned consumer should actually send
potential hosting companies pre-sales e-mail to determine what features are
available. Sending a pre-sales e-mail will also give the consumer an indication
of how quickly the host responds to general inquiries. A credible Web host will
respond in less than 24 hours. However, consumers must be aware that most
hosting outfits will always respond to sales inquiries faster than technical
When composing a pre-sales e-mail, consumers should consider asking the
- Is there a discount if I pre-pay for a number of months in advance?
- What payment methods are available?
- How many months in advance am I required to pay?
- Is there a set-up fee?
- Is there a trial period or money-back guarantee?
- What is your bandwidth, transfer or hit limit?
- May I visit other sites hosted by you?
- From the time I submit my order, to obtain access to the site?
- Will I have my own IP number or is it shared?
- Do you offer an unlimited, 24/7 technical support service?
- How much space is available with your package?
- What is the OS and version of the server?
- What are the hardware specs of the server?
- How many sites are currently running on the server?
- How many more sites do you think you will put on it before it is full?
- How do you decide what constitutes a full server?
- Is there any way for us to set up a mailing list for announcements?
- Will I have 24-hour FTP and telnet access?
- Will I have anonymous FTP?
- Will I have an automated control panel to access my site?
- Do you provide a full, free CGI directory?
- Can I run CGI scripts outside of the CGI directory?
- Is there a limit to how many scripts I can install?
Do you provide full shell access?
- Can I debug a problematic CGI script on the server?
- What version of Perl do you use? Does it contain a full set of modules?
- Do you offer a Web statistics package?
- Will I also have access to the raw statistical log files?
- Does the space used by my logs count against my allotted disk space?
- What is your acceptable usage policy?
- How long have you been in business?
- By employing a strategy of due diligence through the combined use of
credible, hosting directories and direct correspondence with hosting firms,
smart consumers can find an excellent shared hosting provider.