When you say "I need a hosting company", do you know what you're actually saying? In a sense, you are saying you intend to entrust your entire online presence, your profits, and even your customers sensitive billing information to (in most cases) a complete stranger. Here are some tips on making sure you get exactly what you need (and nothing you don't!)
Think about that for a moment. As part owner of a hosting company, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that any company you choose to host your web site has COMPLETE access to ANY information you place on their servers. In addition to the fact that they physically own them, they also occasionally have a need to perform various maintenance tasks that might put them face to face with your entire directory structure, which will list each and every file you have stored.
Unfortunately, most small business owners and individuals fail to consider the potential ramifications fully.
I have a good friend who found a 'bargain' hosting company, who promised 99.9% uptime, as well as rock-bottom domain name pricing, for an amazingly low monthly cost of just $9.99/mo! To make a long story short, the 99.9% uptime guarantee was shot when 3 days after she signed up, she experienced hours of intermittent availability for over two weeks. She finally tired of this, and attempted to have her domain transfered to another host, only to find out her 'bargain' host would not release her domain name to her. As this host happened to be located internationally, and also stopped responding to e-mails, her domain name was tied up in arbitration with ICANN for months!
I have heard plenty of stories like this, and time and time again I ask how they came to choose such a disreputable company. They infallibly state "Price." as their motivation, with a sheepish look of remorse and a lesson well learned.
The bottom line is this: If you don't have any experience with a particular company [or just web hosting as a whole], GET A REFERRAL! The chances are extremely great that someone you know already has [or knows someone who has] a web site. Ask them what they think of their treatment, how much they pay, and them about the relationship they have with their host. And ask what they charge to do site maintenance and other tasks...
I know of one host who actually charges $85 an hour... and they charge $39.95 a month for a hosting plan WITHOUT a database. Lets do the math... If you need them to re-upload a SINGLE file from their backups (They do not pro-rate their fee), it will cost you more then double what they already overcharge you monthly to store ALL of your files online. It takes far less than one minute to upload a single HTML, ASP or PHP file. If they do it for you, they have made $85 in approx. 2.7 seconds [according to the test upload I just performed over a DSL connection].
I would be glad to give advice on choosing a good host to anyone who inquires, or, if you'll pardon the plug, consider BMKMedia.net. for a great deal on FRIENDLY managed hosting.(We even offer $9 domain names!)
.:About the Author
William Kinirons is the president of BMK Media, a web and graphic design company based in Coconut Creek that also offers in-home computer hardware & software support. For more information on web design, onsite computer software support, or managed web hosting call BMK Media at (954) 818-2010.