Web hosting, although perhaps not as thrilling a topic as, say, the Kardashians or how much Facebook paid to buy Instagram, is an important topic you need to understand (at least a little) so you can be empowered to make a good decision and then fuggedaboutit (that is forget about it for those of you who are not from New York).

COLIBRI will make this as quick and painless as she can, and then we’ll move on to topics more dear to your hearts, such as how to get 1,000 Facebook likes.

Last week COLIBRI shared how to choose a domain name. Now that you’ve got that worked out, it’s time to choose an excellent web host that will be secure, responsive and meet your business or project needs. I am going to include a lot of details that may not mean much to you now and may even seem a little overwhelming. Don’t worry! You can always ask for details in the comments section or send me an email.

So, fasten your seat belts, here goes:

1. Location: Choose a web host in your home country. You will rank higher in search.
2. Reliability: This means how often the server is working, which means how often your clients can access your site. You want a server that works at least 99.5% of the year. My web host promises 100% server availability, with the condition that if they have to go offline they will try to do so in off peak hours.
3. Bandwidth: This is the amount of data transfer your site can handle. For example, video or music on your site requires more bandwidth than text. Many hosts will say they offer “unlimited” bandwidth, but since it costs money to provide, it’s usually not true. They can say it because most users will not use that much bandwidth and so hosts can accommodate the users who do. Ask potential hosts about actual bandwidth limits and charges if you go over, which can be expensive. My host automatically monitors bandwidth and sends an email to customers who approach their limits. In that case, they can change their plans ahead of time and save a hassle.
4. Disk space: Not usually an issue unless you have an eCommerce site. If that is potentially in your future, choose a host that can accommodate it because it’s a hassle to change hosts down the line.
5. Customer service: You will get an idea of the quality of customer service just by making phone calls. You need a host that can be responsive should you have questions and will explain technical issues in plain language. My host provides forums, chats, Skype, twitter, email and telephone responses 24 hours/day. I like that!
6. Server type and technical details: You need a web host that uses an operating system that supports the language(s) in which your site is written. If that is WordPress, use a Unix (Linux) based site because you need a MySQL database and PHP programming language. This may not mean anything to you, but it will to your programmer! If you don’t have a programmer, make sure customer service will answer your questions before you commit.
7. SSL (secure sockets layer) and shopping cart capability: If you are ever planning to accept credit cards on your site or if you ever want to have a shopping cart, you need SSL capability. It means that the server can be secured for financial transactions.
8. Email: You want the ability to have an email account configured like this: [email protected]. Ideally you (or your programmer) will be able to create autoresponders for your email account, forward email to your main email account, and create multiple email accounts in case you ever have employees.
9. Control Panel: Choose a web host that gives you access to a control panel. You may need to delete an email account, change a password or use transfer a file. You don’t want to have to wait for staff to make these simple changes.
10. Multiple domain hosting and subdomains: This means that you can have your main site and you can create ancillary blogs. If this seems like it may be in your future, make sure it is included.
11. Price: cheapest isn’t necessarily better. Take the case of bandwidth (see above). If, for example, you are only allowed a small amount of bandwidth, your suddenly successful viral video could cost you! Perhaps more important, cheaper plans may not provide the level of customer service you want.

Okay, friends. Thanks for staying with me on this! Is your brain burning yet?

Those are the details, but here is the take home: choose a site in your home country that allows enough bandwidth and the ability to expand your site as your business expands. Choose a web host that looks professional, has a site that loads quickly and provides good customer service. In most cases don’t go for the cheapest plan, but give yourself a little room so you can make this decision and then move on to the fun parts of managing your website and blog.

Questions? Email me or leave a comment. COLIBRI will respond ASAP!

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