Internet Service Provider (ISP), Part 2

(Finding the Right Web Hosting Provider Can Make or Break Your Website Presentations)

The first five things you should keep in mind when you consider using an ISP Hosting Service:

  • As usual, care, caution, and curiosity are advised.
  • Do not be too quick to sign up with a web host or a potential partner!
  • Shop around for the one that has as many of the best qualities that you are looking for as possible; at a price you can afford, of course.
  • Everyone has different needs and requirements, so you must select one from among the thousands out there that meets your needs on a number of levels; be it speed, bandwidth, support and service, or, in the human realm, intelligence, humor, support, and service.

    Point #1: Search and Investigate

  • Surf the internet by taking advantage of search engines; such as, GOOGLE, AOL, MSN, et al.
  • What’s available? What are the general specs and parameters that meet your needs?
  • Hosting directories may save you loads of time and frustration, because the good ones have already done most of the work for you.

    Point #2: Decide What You Need and Want

  • We all have different needs.
  • You should decide what yours are before contacting any web hosts.
  • Are you looking for a host for your business or simply a place to put up a personal website?
  • Will a free service be sufficient, or do you need something with more features, or even a dedicated server?
  • How much traffic do you anticipate and how much storage space do you think you will need?
  • What other options will you need?
  • Once you start looking around, you will quickly learn which options are available and which ones you may want.
  • Make a list of your requirements so you are prepared when it comes time to question potential web-host providers.

    Point #3: Make a List of Server Hosts

  • Use the web-hosting directories, search engines, and any referrals you can get from friends and colleagues to make a short list of possible web hosts that you are considering.
  • You can add to this list as you go along, but at least you will have something to work with as you continue your quest for your ideal web hosting partner and he/she will be more of a partner in your business than you can possibly anticipate.
  • You should take your time, do your homework, and be prepared before contacting a salesperson.

    Point #4: Try Out and Experience the Hosts

  • Now that you have a working short list of web hosts, go to their sites and, again, look around—more closely this time.
  • Get a feel for their professionalism, look at their client lists, check out their different packages and test their customer service.
  • See how you feel with the interface that is presented.
  • Are you comfortable there?
  • Is it easy to find your way around and access the information you are looking for or is the interface clumsy, poorly designed, and too difficult to figure out what to do or where to go?
  • While you are visiting these sites, read their fine print.
  • Use a magnifying glass if necessary so you can see what they have to say about the all-important issues of reliability and refunds.
  • A web host is worth nothing if it is not up virtually all the time serving your pages to prospective visitors to your site.
  • “Virtually” means 99% - 99.5% uptime, the actual time the host is functional and receptive to users.
  • The web host should provide some sort of refund—either a pro-rated refund or a discount—if it falls below its stated claim.
  • Find out what you must do to get that refund; specifically, what sort of documentation or proof must you provide, or will the ISP host freely admit to the downtimes and give you the appropriate credit?
  • Some hosts are actually very good with this; others are not.
  • Find out what kinds of trial periods, if any, are offered, and exactly which refunds will be given to you in the event you are not satisfied.
  • That is, does the ISP host refund all payments you have paid to it, or only monthly fees, but not setup fees, etc.
  • Take some time to read these details—you may be glad you did when things do not work out as promised.

    Point #5: Evaluate the Available Packages

  • Now, your short list should be getting even shorter.
  • It’s time to check out which packages are available and what it costs for the specifications you are looking for.
  • Examine and evaluate their different packages, and you will soon see that many are grouped according to similar criteria.
  • Ask yourself not only what you really need right now, but what you might need later if your business and website expands.
  • For example, you may not need e-commerce today, but what about in the future?
  • How “scalable” are the various services; that is, how easy will it be for you to upgrade your package as your needs and requirements change?
  • How much disk space do you need?
  • Most average websites actually use less than 5MB of web space, so there is no point in choosing a package that offers 200MB or 500MB, or especially “unlimited disk space;” particularly, if you have a small web site.
  • In fact, when you see the phrase “unlimited disk space”, cross that host off your short list because it is insulting your intelligence and preying on those who are impressed by what they perceive to be unlimited usage.
  • They would go out of business “tomorrow” if this offer were actually put into practice by website customers. In fact, some hosting services have gone out of business for this very reason!
  • Other specs and options you need to look at and compare are the number of POP3 mail accounts and aliases the ISP offers and what kind of access it will allow you, and how.
  • Most servers have some form of domain or “Admin Control Panel” for you to use to administer your account.
  • Try it out and see if you understand it and feel comfortable with it.
  • If you do have a problem understanding where to go and how to do it, check to see if the customer service will be patient and give you the guidance you need to successfully use the services.
  • Other more technical features you need to be aware of include FTP, CGI-Bin access, SSI, .htaccess, telnet, crontabs, PHP, and others.

Pointing to the third page of ISP, three parts Go on to Part 3 of the ISP Hosting Points, numbers 6 to 10.