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How to Find the Right Web Host for your Business

By Chris Kivlehan

Most business owners know very little about how to choose the internet hosting provider that’s best for their website and for their business. What makes a good web-hoster, or a bad one? How can this important decision help, or harm, your business? What types of services are available, and which are best for you?

Whether your business is a tennis shop or a facility, and whether you’re signed on to the Tennis Welcome Center program or not, more and more people will be looking on the internet for information about your business and your programs. Here are some tips to help you make the right decisions about who to select to host your website.

1. Understand the Differences Among the Types of Web-Hosting

It is crucial that you know the distinctions between shared, collocated, unmanaged dedicated and managed dedicated hosting so you can choose the one that is right for your business. As the hosting industry has matured, hosting offers have split into distinct categories, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

2. Ask if Your Potential Host’s Network Has Blackholed IPs

Many hosts care little about who is actually hosting on their networks, so long as the clients pay their bill. That means many hosters will allow porn sites, spammers, and servers that create security issues on their network. Placing ethical issues aside, however, this does have a negative impact on customers in general, for example when a network gets blackholed.

Getting blackholed means that other networks will refuse e-mail originated from Internet Providers (IPs) that are blacklisted. Some hosts have a number of entire class C (up to 256 IPs) networks blackholed and redistribute these tainted IPs to new clients. That means if your business relies on legitimate closed-loop opt-in e-mail marketing, being on such a network can severely cut response to your campaign because your e-mail may never get to its destination.

Check with any hosts you are considering to see if their networks are blackholed. Also, here is a link to a third party source that tracks blackholed networks and lists them: http://www.spamhaus.org/sbl/isp.lasso

The following URL is a good resource to help you understand what is labeled “spam” and what isn’t: http://www.spamhaus.org/mailinglists.html

3. Don’t Confuse Size With Stability

Just because a web-hosting company is big does not mean it is stable and secure. How do you protect yourself? Ask some key questions: How long has the host been in business? Is current ownership the same as always? Are they profitable and cash flow positive from operation-generated revenue?

4. Don’t Make Price Your Only Priority

The old saying “you get what you pay for” applies. When you over-prioritize price, you run the risk of ending up with a host that will provide you with a connection to the internet and little else in terms of support (and even that connection may be running at maximum capacity or have uptime issues).

5. Make Sure Your Host Has Fully Redundant Data Centers

When dealing with smaller vendors, make sure that they have their own data centers and that those data centers are fully redundant in terms of power and connectivity. Here are a few questions to ask:

6. Do They Have Experienced Systems Administrators on Their Support Staff?

When you call in for technical support, it can be a frustrating experience to be stuck talking with a non-technical customer-service rep when you really need to talk to a systems administrator who can resolve your issues. Find out the structure of their support department, how quickly you can get to an actual systems administrator when you need to, and which systems administrators can help you when you need help.

7. Make Sure the Host Is Flexible

It is important that the hoster understands how important quality servers are to your business. Even most managed dedicated hosts will not go near supporting applications that are not part of their initial server setup. Find a hoster that has a vast amount of experience to support a wide variety of applications, and one that can bring that expertise to you through their services.

8. Find Out What Their Former and Current Clients Say About Them

Can your prospective host provide you with success stories for clients with similar configurations to yours? Are they able to provide references from clients who can tell you about their experience using that company?

9. Make Sure The Host’s Support Doesn’t Include Extra Charges

Any host you consider should provide you with a comprehensive list outlining the support they offer so that you can have an understanding of what is supported for free, what is supported at a fee, and what is not supported at all. To win your business, make them get specific.

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About the Author

Chris Kivlehan is the marketing manager for INetU Managed Hosting. INetU (inetu.net) is an award-winning Allentown, Pa.-based hosting provider that specializes in managed dedicated hosting for businesses nationwide in the online retailing, web development, e-learning, financial services and online marketing industries, as well as for governments, nonprofits and civic institutions.

 

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