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Choosing a Web Hosting Service for your Business Web Site

5/12/2003

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Is your business Web site down again? Does it seem to have more downtime than uptime? You may want to consider changing your Web hosting service. One of the most important decisions you will make for your business Web site is selecting which Web hosting service will display your Web pages to the Internet. Choosing the right Internet Service Provider (ISP) to host your business's Web site may feel like finding the right day-care center for your kids these days: Are they reliable? Will they be there next month? Do they know what they are doing? What services do they provide?

Finding a provider to host and maintain your Web presence can be a walk in the park, if you gather the right information. Or, it can be a disaster waiting to happen. The Better Business Bureau suggests you consider the following when shopping for a Web host:

  • Know what type of service you need and only pay for that service. Large companies and high volume Web sites can expect to pay higher rates for the services they need.

  • Shop around. Going with a big-name company may not be the best option for a small business. With larger companies you may find yourself competing for attention when it comes to getting service and performance issues addressed.

  • Ask questions. Find out how much space the hosting company will allow you on their server for mail, log files, system programs and graphics. How many email addresses are you allowed? Inquire about the availability of mailing list management programs, such as Majordomo for newsletters and autoresponders for automatic responses to e-mail messages sent to certain addresses. Also, ask if they provide some sort of statistical data on visitors to your web pages.

  • Read your service contract carefully. If there were verbal negotiations between you and the web hosting company, be sure they are included in the contract. For instance, if the web hosting company says it will respond to complaints or glitches with your account within 12 hours, rather than their usual 24 hours, be sure that promise is included in your contract.

  • Make certain that the data on your web site remains secure and within your control. If you want "state of the art" security, add those words to your contract. That way you know your web hosting company has agreed to provide it.

  • Check the Web hosting company out with the Better Business Bureau before doing business.
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