A web hosting provider is basically a company that stores all your website files on a server so they can be accessed from anywhere on the Internet.

Your web host is different from your domain name: your hosting is your storage, whereas your domain name is like a big neon sign pointing to where your site is hosted. The real purpose of the domain name is that it’s much easier to remember than the glorious string of numbers that is the IP address of your host server. Your domain is nothing without something to point to, and that’s where your hosting comes in.

Choosing the right web hosting provider is the foundation to a successful website. Whether you are launching a website for the first time, or you are simply unhappy with your current provider, choosing the right host is the foundation to a successful website. But how do you decide given the seemingly infinite options out there, from the mom-and-pop re-sellers to the national providers like Go Daddy and Host Monster? All of which share similar pricing but range in service offerings. What’s the difference between a $10 a month hosting plan versus $100?


Here are 5 things to look for when choosing a host for your website:

1) Security

The security features of a web host provider are important to website development, especially if your website will be an e-commerce website through which customers make payments, or if your customer is transmitting personal information to you via your website. Make sure you get an SSL certificate if you are selling online, and that your shopping system is safe and easy to use. Inquire about spam protection, viruses, and other malware. Also be sure to ask about firewalls, DDoS protection, and PCI compliance before you sign up.


2) Reliability

How much is an hour of down time on your website worth to you? How about a month? Suddenly paying a little more a month doesn’t sound so bad! Reliability or “uptime” is maybe the most important service to consider when choosing a host. When a website is down your potential leads go down with it, leading to hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars in revenue lost for businesses. While many claim 100% uptime, these figures are not entirely accurate so be wary of these claims.

Look for an uptime of 99% or more. All web hosts should have historical data available. You should also determine how scheduled outages are handled. A good provider will perform schedules maintenance updates in the wee hours of the night, notifying their customers well ahead of time.


3) Support

Look for a hosting company that offers 24/7 free phone support with customer service reps to speak to you on the phone, not just a way to leave an email. Having the comfort of reaching a real person means a safety net if and when your site ever goes down. Some providers even offer a live chat window within their website; feel free to test the response time. While you’re at it, call their help line before signing up and see how quickly they respond. Inquire about services you may be interested in and test their knowledge. This will give a good indication of the type of service you can expect.


4) Email Capabilities

If you have your own site, you will probably want to have email addresses at your own domain like contact@yourdomain.com, etc. Email capabilities should be included in every web hosting plan. The number of email addresses, the ability to use aliases, and other features such as auto responders and message forwards are things to be considered. Read up on restrictions on the size of files that can be sent over and received as well. Many providers include an unlimited number of email addresses but be wary of limitations such as ease of use and transferability.


5) Exit Strategy

Even if you find the ideal match for your web host provider, make sure you read the fine print about transferring your site elsewhere. The ideal provider will have confidence in their service, thus making your transfer process easy to complete. If the details seem too confusing and customer support doesn’t offer an automated solution – look elsewhere.



Whether you need a personal website, a simple blog, or are a business in need of a solid foundation to host your site, a reliable web host provider should offer the above services and then some. Try looking for a provider that offers hosting on a monthly basis as opposed to yearly, also one that allows you to upgrade or cancel your plan as needed. This flexibility will let you adjust your hosting plan with your growth and also be able to cut loose if they can no longer handle your needs.