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Choosing the Wrong Web Hosting Plan Can Cost You Customers, Even Your Business
Do you regularly buy goods online? Does this experience sound familiar.. you go to an e-commerce website, only to find, to your annoyance, an excruciatingly slow response. You wait over 5 minutes for the next page to load. In the end you give up, and never make that purchase. Presumably many other people also give up, causing the loss of many other purchases.
Now imagine that you own that website, and run that online business. You set everything up properly, but you find that many people face the situation described above. You lose customers, and eventually you lose your business, and all this principally because you chose the wrong web hosting plan.
You see, when you set up any online business, I cannot over- stress the importance of choosing the right hosting company and plan.
In choosing a web hosting plan, you must decide whether to go for shared or dedicated hosting. With a shared hosting plan, your website co-exists with other websites on a computer, known as a server. With a dedicated hosting plan, your site, and your site alone resides upon just one server. You can get a good shared hosting plan for under $10 per month, whereas dedicated hosting plans can cost from $50 to over $100 a month.
For shared hosting, one server handles the traffic (visitors) coming to all the websites it accommodates. So if your site shares a server with other high-traffic sites, then it could run slow because the server works extra hard. Maybe the site will run slow at peak times during the day, when you would expect most customers to come and buy, causing the nightmare scenario above. However, hosting companies usually use many servers, with only a limited number of sites on each, thus spreading the load. I therefore advise you to read reviews on hosting companies to see whether people complain about sites slowing down due to overloading. I will say more on reviews later.
For dedicated hosting, your traffic does not compete with traffic to any other web sites. However, this costs much more, so I do not recommend dedicated hosting unless absolutely necessary.
When choosing a hosting plan, you must consider bandwidth. I'll give you a simple explanation of bandwidth. If your hosting plan allows you 10GB of monthly bandwidth, it allows you 10GB (10,000MB) of data transfer from your site each month. If each visitor to your site accesses pages containing 300kB (0.3MB) of data on average, then your plan allows you 10,000 / 0.3 = 30,000 visitors a month, or 1000 visitors a day. Ask yourself, do I need more than that?
Imagine the scene: your site averages 2000 visitors a day. Two weeks into the month, with your monthly bandwidth quota used up, your site "goes offline" until the beginning of next month, or until you buy more bandwidth. How devastating for your business! Take my advice: get enough bandwidth before you start.
Most importantly, you must know the effectiveness of your hosting company's customer support. Many companies offer 24/7 phone support, where you can ring them up any time day or night with a problem. But imagine this scenario:
You created a database on your site for storing all your customers' details. One day, the data gets corrupted, and everybody accessing your site sees an error message. Trust me, it happens! You need an administrator to tweak the database at their end. You must get this sorted out immediately but the hosting company gave you only an email address, so you send an email. Then you could wait two days for a reply. Many companies would actually email you back within the hour. However, a company with 24/7 phone support allows you to talk directly to a real person. He or she could then keep you informed of the situation as it progresses.
Always look at the hosting company's "uptime guarantee". Many guarantee 99% uptime for their servers, which sounds quite high at first, but it does mean that your site could go down for 1% of the time: over 7 hours out of each month! If you can, choose a host guaranteeing 99.7% uptime.
When you decide upon a hosting company, always look at what other people say about them. Go to Google.com and type the web hosting company name, and "reviews" or "testimonials". This will give you a very rich list of sites where you can read other peoples' reviews, testimonials, reports, etc. so you can form an educated opinion. A word of warning, you will always find someone who says something negative about even the best web hosting companies.
So finally, before settling for a specific hosting plan and entrusting your precious online business to them, ask yourself these simple questions:
* Do they provide 24/7 phone support, not just email support?
* Does their bandwidth allow the number of visitors that you expect?
* Does the hosting plan enable your site to avoid going slow? What do the reviews say? What do the testimonials say?
* What uptime do they guarantee? Would your business survive your site going down for the remaining percentage each month?
* And can you find plenty of good reviews, and testimonials of many happy customers, and no too many complaints?
If you can answer yes to all these questions, then go for it! I wish you every success with your online business.
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