How To Choose A Hosting Company
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of hosting companies out
there. They come in all price ranges, and with all kinds of
bells and whistles. Here are some things you may want to look
for in a hosting company, especially if your website is part of
your overall marketing plan to sell products or services.
* Money Back Guarantee - I put this first, because if you are
unhappy with your hosting site, you'll want assurances that
you'll get your money back.
* 24/7 Customer Technical Support - This is critical. Find
out if they mean "there's voicemail or email 24-hours-a-
day" or if they mean, "we will answer the phone and help
* Control Panel - The Control Panel where you control all
aspects of your account, such as managing email accounts,
reading statistics, and configuring autoresponders. Make
sure your hosting company has a centralized control panel
for your management needs.
* Website Statistics - From a marketing perspective, it's
important to know who is visiting your site and what pages
they read. Your hosting company should keep track of all
of this information for you, and present it in an easy to
read format. Make sure your statistics are updated on a
daily basis, and that you can configure the display to show
you by day, by week, by month or by year. You can learn
more about how to read and interpret your statistics here:
* CGI - CGI stands for the "Common Gateway Interface" and is
a protocol through which web pages interact with scripts on
a server. Your hosting company should allow you to install
and run CGI scripts your account. They may also offer you
some pre-installed CGI scripts for free as part of your
hosting package, such as a message board or email forms.
* POP Email Accounts - A POP (Post Office Protocol) Email
Account is an email account hosted on your site. Your
hosting company should allow you to have more than one POP
account, so that you can set up email addresses for all
your needs. For example, clients requesting information
about a workshop can send email to workshop@m...,
while clients can send their homework to
homework@m.... Also make sure your hosting company
support email forwarding.
* Autoresponders - Autoresponders allow a visitor to send an
email to a specific email address and automatically receive
a reply. For example, if you have a FAQ, people can send
an email to faq@m... and automatically receive the
FAQ list in their email inbox.
* SSL Secure Server - SSL stands for "Secure Socket Layer".
This is a protocol that allows for encrypted transmissions
on the web, and is especially useful if you are collecting
private information from visitors, such as credit card
* Shopping Cart - If you plan on having a catalog on the web,
like selling your ebooks or audio tapes, a shopping cart is
a must. It lets people browse through your "store" and
pick the items that they plan to purchase. When they are
done, they proceed to the checkout where they can review
their order and pay by credit card. If your hosting
company does not offer a shopping cart system, there are
plenty of stand-alone shopping cart systems you can use
with your website.
* Password Protected Areas - If you want to create a "members
only" or "students only" section of your site, you will
need to make sure that your hosting company supports
password protected areas (folders or sub-webs).
* FrontPage Extensions - Microsoft FrontPage is a web
development tool that's easy to use. In order for this
package to be completely functional, it requires that there
be special software installed on the server called
"FrontPage Extensions." Beware the hosting company who
wants to charge you for using FrontPage Extensions; most
hosting companies offer them for free.
* Mailing List Software - Keep your users informed by
offering to put them on the mailing list. Make sure your
hosting company supports double-opt-in mailing lists, where
the person signs up and receives a confirmation email that
instructs them how to officially sign up for your mailing
* Streaming Media - If you'd like to add multimedia streaming
to your site, you'll need to find out if your hosting
company supports the use of streaming media such as
RealAudio or Windows Media files. Some hosting companies
will charge you extra for this service.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider. Remember,
while some of these may not be important to you now, you'll also
want a hosting company that can grow and support you as your
© Karyn Greenstreet 2004.
Karyn Greenstreet is a Self Employment Expert. Through
consulting, coaching and speaking, she shares tips, tricks and
techniques with self-employed people to create and grow their
businesses, stay focused and motivated, and work at peak
performance. Visit her website at