Choosing your web host can be a pain. For those just learning to build websites or those who are part-time web designers this article will make it easier for you to choose. If you are new to web hosting see this article: What is Web Hosting?
The first thing to keep in mind is that you can always change your web host. You do not have to keep your website with a hosting company you are not happy with. So relax.
The 2 most important things to check out about a web hosting company is its reliability and service.
Reliability: Will your pages load quickly most of the time? Will your pages be available 99% of the time?
Service: Will they get back to you quickly by email? Is phone support available in an emergency?
If you are someone who is just learning how to create a website or if you just want to try a few things out on a 'live' site pick any free web hosting company and use them. Even the poor ones work most of the time. You get what you pay for though. As long as you have nothing to lose free web hosting is the way to go.
You can read reviews of free web hosts if you want. At Google.com, search for 'free web host reviews'. But these reviews are as shaky as free hosting.
Free hosting is only offered as a way to introduce people to 'paid' hosting. It is not in the interest of the hosting company to have everything working perfectly all the time if they are not getting paid. If you have trouble with your pages loading slowly or if your pages are temporarily unavailable the company will just tell you to upgrade to a paid service. Get it?
I used a free web host one time. A client had gotten himself kicked off another web host. LOL... I didn't have time to do any research. I wanted to get his site back up quickly. The free web host was about as reliable as could be expected for the price. I eventually had to upgrade the site to one of their paid hosting packages. This is the free web host I used: FreeHostia.com.
If you build or maintain sites part-time for small businesses you really shouldn't use free hosting - too risky.
Don't worry about the various technologies that hosts offer like PHP, MySQL, ASP etc. If you don't know what those things are you don't need them.
When choosing your web host lean toward the less expensive packages. You can always upgrade later.
If your site has pages and pages of images or many videos be sure to find out about disk space and bandwidth usage limits. Disk space is basically the storage space for your site on the host computer. Bandwidth is the amount of traffic that is allowed to occur between your web site and the rest of the internet. Images and videos use up lots of bandwidth. For the most part you shouldn't have a problem with either disk space or bandwidth if you have a small business website.
To find a reliable web host first ask people you know who are in the web field if they know of any good web hosting companies. You should also find out whether they have actually used the hosting company. When choosing your web host reputation is not always a good indication of quality.
Another way to find a good web host is to ask any business owner who has a website if they like their web host. If they do, look into that one. If they don't, skip it.
You may have to go to a web host review site. Pick a host that costs between $15 and $20 per month that gets good ratings on at least two review sites. If you need a really reliable host with really good service I can recommend Bee.net. I have had years of experience with these guys. They are a little pricey but are worth it if your site (or customer's site) is important to you. Bee.net is the hosting company that kicked my client off of their web host. LOL... Obviously, I didn't hold a grudge. My client deserved it. :-)
Here's a list of review sites to check out:
When choosing your web host the first thing to keep in mind is that you can always go to another one. Relax. The 2 most important things to look for in a web host are reliability and service. Don't choose a free web hosting package unless you have nothing to lose. For the average small business you should be able to find a good hosting company for under $20 per month.
A web host can make or break a web business.
But don't sweat it. If you find your web host to be unreliable you can easily move to another one.