Hosting Providers and what to look for
- Reliability and speed of access
Not only should the web host be reliable and fast, it should guarantee its uptime (the time when it is functional). Look for a minimum uptime of 99%. In fact, even 99% is actually too low — it really should be 99.5% or higher. The host should provide some sort of refund (eg prorated refund or discount) if it falls below that figure. Note though that guarantees are often hard to enforce from your end — especially if the host denies there was any downtime. However, without that guarantee, the web host will have little incentive to ensure that its servers are running all the time.
Promitech Has a 99.8% uptime
- Data Transfer (Traffic/Bandwidth)
Data transfer (sometimes loosely referred to as “traffic” or “bandwidth”) is the amount of bytes transferred from your site to visitors when they browse your site.
Don’t believe any commercial web host that advertises “unlimited bandwidth”. The host has to pay for the bandwidth, and if you consume a lot of it, they will not silently bear your costs. Many high bandwidth websites have found this out the hard way when they suddenly receive an exorbitant bill for having “exceeded” the “unlimited bandwidth”. Always look for details on how much traffic the package allows. I personally always stay clear of any hosting that advertises “unlimited transfer”, even if the exact amount is specified somewhere else (sometimes buried in their policy statements). Usually you will find that they redefine “unlimited” to be limited in some way.
In addition, while bandwidth provided is something you should always check, do not be unduly swayed by promises of incredibly huge amounts of bandwidth. Chances are that your website will never be able to use that amount because it will hit other limits, namely resource limits. For more details, see the article The Fine Print in Web Hosting: Resource Usage Limits.
To give you a rough idea of the typical traffic requirements of a website, most new sites that are not software archives or provide video or music on their site use less than 3 GB of bandwidth per month. Your traffic requirements will grow over time, as your site becomes more well-known (and well-linked), so you will need to also check their policy when you exceed your data transfer limit: is there a published charge per GB over the allowed bandwidth? Is the charge made according to actual usage or are you expected to pre-pay for a potential overage? It is better not to go for hosting that expect you to prepay for overages, since it is very hard to for see when your site will exceed its bandwidth and by how much.
Promitech does limit bandwidth ( we do this to protect you from spam hacking)
- Disk space
For the same reason as bandwidth, watch out also for those “unlimited disk space” schemes. Many new sites (that don’t host videos or music) need less than 20 MB of web space, so even if you are provided with a host that tempts you with 100 GB (or “unlimited space”), be aware that you are unlikely to use that space, so don’t let the 100 GB space be too big a factor in your consideration when comparing with other web hosts. The hosting company is also aware of that, which is why they feel free to offer you that as a means of enticing you to host there. As a rough gauge, thefreecountry.com, which had about 150 pages when this article was first written, used less than 5 MB for its pages and associated files.
Promitech has a plan to fit your needs, if we do not we will make one just for you.
- Technical support
Does its technical support function 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (often abbreviated 24/7), all year around? Note that I will not accept a host which does not have staff working on weekends or public holidays. You will be surprised at how often things go wrong at the most inconvenient of times. Incidentally, just because a host advertises that it has 24/7 support does not necessarily mean that it really has that kind of support. Test them out by emailing at midnight and on Saturday nights, Sunday mornings, etc. Check out how long they take to respond. Besides speed of responses, check to see if they are technically competent. You wouldn’t want to sign up for a host that is run by a bunch of salesmen who only know how to sell and not fix problems.
At Promitech we offer support 24/7 , 99% answered in within a hour
- FTP, PHP, Perl, SSI, .htaccess, telnet, SSH, MySQL, crontabs
If you are paying for a site, you really should make sure you have all of these.
Note that some commercial hosts do not allow you to install PHP or Perl scripts without their approval. This is not desirable since it means that you have to wait for them before you can implement a feature on your site. “.htaccess” is needed if you are to do things like customize your error pages (pages that display when, say, a user requests for a non-existent page on your site) or to protect your site in various ways (such as to prevent bandwidth theft and hotlinking, etc).
Telnet or SSH access is useful for certain things, including testing certain scripts (programs), maintaining databases, etc. MySQL (“What is MySQL?”) is needed if you want to run a blog or a content management system. Cron is a type of program scheduler that lets you run programs at certain times of the day (eg, once a day). Check to see if these facilities are provided.
Promitech offers all of these
- SSL (secure server), Shopping Cart
If you are planning on doing any sort of business through your website, you might want to look out to see if the host provides these facilities. These facilities normally involve a higher priced package or additional charges. The main thing is to check to see if they are available at all before you commit to the host. You will definitely need SSL if you want to collect credit card payments on your site.
Promitech offeres SSL Support with all non personal hosting plans
- Email, Autoresponders, POP3, Mail Forwarding
If you have your own site, you will probably want to have email addresses at your own domain, like email@example.com, etc. Does the host provide this with the package? Does it allow you to have a catch-all email account that causes any email address at your domain to be routed to you? Can you set an email address to automatically reply to the sender with a preset message (called an autoresponder)? Can you retrieve your mail with your email software? Can it be automatically forwarded to your current email address?
Promitech offers all this and more!
- Control Panel
This is called various names by different hosts, but essentially, they all allow you to manage different aspects of your web account yourself. Typically, and at the very minimum, it should allow you to do things like add, delete, and manage your email addresses, and change passwords for your account. I will not sign up for a host where I have to go through their technical support each time I want to change a password or add/delete an email account. Such chores are common maintenance chores that every webmaster performs time and time again, and it would be a great hassle if you had to wait for their technical support to make the changes for you.
At Promitech every account comes free with a personal control panel
- Multiple Domain Hosting and Subdomains
For those who are thinking of selling web space or having multiple domains or subdomains hosted in your account, you should look to see if they provide this, and the amount extra that they charge for this (whether it is a one-time or monthly charge, etc).
Promitech offers multi domain and sub domain hosting
- Web Server and Operating System
Is the type of operating system and server important? Whether you think so or not on the theoretical level, there are a few practical reasons for looking out for the type of server.
In general, if you want to use things like write/use ASP programs, you have no choice but to look for a Windows server.
Otherwise my preference is to sign up for accounts using the often cheaper, more stable and feature-laden Unix systems running the Apache server. In fact, if dynamically generated pages that can access databases (etc) is what you want, you can always use the more portable (and popular) PHP instead of tying yourself down to ASP. Another reason to prefer Unix-based web hosts (which include web hosts using systems like Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, etc) using the Apache web server is that these servers allow you to configure a lot of facilities that you typically need on your site (error pages, protecting your images, blocking email harvesters, blocking IP addresses, etc) without having to ask your web host to implement them. Knowledge about configuring Apache servers is also widely available, and can be found on thesitewizard.com’s Configuring Apache and .htaccess pages as well.
Currently Promitech only offers Unix Hosting Plans ( More secure than windows)
I was actually hesitant to list this, but I guess it’s futile not to. However, I would caution that while price is always a factor, you should realize (“realize” in US English) that you often get what you pay for, although it’s not necessarily true that the most expensive hosts are the best.
At Promitech all hosting plans are at very reasonable rates
- Monthly/Quarterly/Annual Payment Plans
Most web hosts allow you to select an annual payment plan that gives you a cheaper rate than if you were to pay monthly. My current personal preference is to pay monthly with all new web hosts until I’m assured of their reliability and honesty. Paying monthly allows me to switch web hosts quickly when I find that the current host does not meet my requirements: this way, I’m not tied down to a bad web host because I have prepaid for an entire year. I do this even if the new web host guarantees that they will refund the balance if I’m dissatisfied, since at the point I sign up, I have no assurance that they will honour their guarantee. Later (usually after a couple of years), when I’m satisfied with the host, I may change payment plans to the discounted annual plans.
Promitech offers monthly and yearly hosting plans, we also give a free month with paid yearly hosting
Not all hosting companies own or lease their own web servers. Some of them are actually re-sellers for some other hosting company. The disadvantage of using a re-seller is the possibility that you are dealing with people who don’t know much about the system they are selling and who take longer to help you (they have to transmit your technical support request to the actual hosting company for it to be acted upon). However, this also depends on both the re-seller and the underlying hosting company. It is thus wise not to rule out all re-sellers there are a number of reliable and fast ones who are actually quite good and cheap. In fact, a number of re-sellers sell the same packages cheaper than their original hosting company. If you find out that a particular company is a re-seller, you will need to investigate both the re-seller and the real hosting company.
Promitech is not a re seller, we actually have a server cluster of over 70 servers.
If you don’t stay in the USA, you have the option of hosting your site with some local provider. The advantage here is the ease of dealing with them (they are after all easily accessible by phone call or a visit), your familiarity with the local laws and easy recourse to those laws should it be necessary. It should be your choice if your target audience is local (eg a local fast food delivery service). On the other hand, hosting it in USA has the advantage of faster access for what is probably the largest number of your overseas visitors (particularly if you have an English-speaking audience). You also have a large number of hosting companies to choose from, and as a result, cheaper prices too.
Promitech offers hosting worldwide, All support staff speak English fluently)
- Others’ Reviews
You should make it a point to check out what others have to say about the web host. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
There are many reviews of web hosts around. Some are reviews made by a single webmaster on their own site, others are posted on webmaster forums. However, as you should always do when looking at reviews (of anything), read them with a pinch of salt. Some glowing reviews may come from people working for the web host itself, disguised as multiple satisfied customers. Likewise, negative reviews of a particular host can sometimes come from unscrupulous competitors of that host.
In addition, even if the review is genuine, be careful about trusting a glowing review from someone who has been with a web host for only a few months. While that person may be perfectly honest, you can’t really tell the quality of a web host if you’ve only been hosted on its server for so short a time. That person could simply be going through what webmasters jokingly call the “honeymoon period”.
The converse is also true. Honest bad reviews about a web host from brand-new webmasters are problematic too. You have to evaluate carefully whether the bad review is actually a reflection of how bad the web host is, or how inexperienced the newbie webmaster is. That is, the newcomer may ascribe faults to the web host that are actually his/her failure to properly understand how to do things. The root of the problem here is that there are many technical aspects to creating a website that can easily trip a newcomer. I have read supposedly-bad reviews of web hosts that actually say more about the newness of the webmaster than the quality of the web host.
Anyway, before you ask, you can read my review of the web host thesitewizard.com currently uses at
http://www.thesitewizard.com/archive/webhosting.shtml. On occasion, I may also make a comment or two about some of the hosts I list on the Budget Web Hosts page on thefreecountry.com.
Don’t skip this step, or you might find yourself being suckered by a host that everyone else is steering clear of.
See our Feedback on out Corporate web site
The Myth of the Perfect Commercial Host
In general, I doubt that there are any “perfect” web hosting companies around. Note that even if you are prepared to pay a huge price for your hosting needs, it does not guarantee that your host is any good. This is an interesting industry where a high price does not necessarily yield quality hosting and support.
On the other hand, one thing you can probably be sure of is that you will not get top-notched support if you only pay (say) $5 a month. At that price, which company can afford to hire enough good help to cater to all its users?
Like me, you’ll probably end up settling for a trade-off between price, reliability and features that you’re willing to live with.
At Promitech we never over sell services, that’s why we have over 70 servers in our cluster. Promitech Technologies Hosting is you best choice! Just ask any of our clients..