I say "penultimate" because chances are, reading this article won't be enough for you to choose the perfect host for your website. In fact, it won't mean anything at all without the discretion and research coming from you, the entrepreneur. The final decision as far as any business is concerned must come from you, the entrepreneur, and creating a perfect website is a crucial business decision if there ever was one. Choosing a proper web hosting provider for your website is literally one of the most important decisions you will make in regards of getting your business online. This is because before your audience takes a good look at the stunning web design, before they even come to read the beautiful content you have created for them, they must be able to access your website in the first place. This last bit, quite obviously, depends almost entirely on your web host. A proper web host will make sure that your website is accessible at all times throughout the day, with zero downtime and zero server errors. This becomes especially crucial during the peak times of day when your website gets a sudden upscale of traffic, one that will cause lesser hosting servers to falter and fail. Just like a broadcasting station is responsible for keeping a television or radio channel live and functioning, a web hosting server is responsible to make sure your website is up and accessible at all times. Needless to say, it is vital to your online presence.
Your budget is important, but perhaps not the first thing you should be latching on to when considering a proper web host, especially so if your website is meant for commercial purposes. To start with, let us put a myth to bed first. There is no such thing as a free web hosting provider. Not if you want your website to look and seem professional. For casual bloggers, on the other hand, there might be some options. The reason behind this is simple. Nothing is really free. When someone offers you a "free" web hosting service, there is almost always a catch. Perhaps it won't allow you to use a top-level domain (.com, .net, .org, etc.) and force you to settle for a subdomain instead (.blogspot.com, .wordpress.com). Perhaps they will force your visitors to watch ads when they visit your website, without paying you any of the profits derived from the advertisements. Perhaps they will impose strict rules on monetizing your website in any way (advertisement, donations). Chances are, they'll do all of these.
Of course, no business needs that kind of trouble, especially when a few bucks a month can't spare you all this trouble. There are several "cheap" options to consider as well. But anything you get for $5 or less is bound to be jumpy and unreliable. If you want a web host that you can rely on, consider investing at least $10 or above each month on a shared server and invest it on a trusted provider like GoDaddy or Hostgator. This will do just fine for a small to medium-scale business. If, however, you are a mogul like Amazon or Microsoft, you will need to consider costlier options such as virtual private servers or even dedicated servers to host your business online. However, most businesses will do completely fine with a shared server available with any of the popular web hosting providers. If you would like a more in-depth comparison of popular web hosting providers along with price tags, Cheap Web Hosting can offer you some really nice advice. However, the server isn't the only thing worth considering. The human factor in your web hosting provider also plays an important part.
Next up is customer service. No matter how good your hosting, chances are, it will fail you at least once at some point of your lifetime. To get your website back up and running immediately, you will have to put your money on your web host's customer service. Only consider companies that offer 24/7 customer service via live chat and telephone hotline. Also do some research to determine the kind of customer service they provide, whether they actually assist their clients or just walk out on them in times of need. You can do that quite easily by looking at some of the reviews written by popular websites and blogs and on community forums like The Warrior Forum or Digital Point.
A web hosting service is not just as easy as choosing a standard plan based on the amount of hosting space you need. You must also consider the technical specifications of the server that will be hosting your website, such as processing power and RAM. Not only will this determine the amount of traffic your website can take, but also the amount of content it can hold and the kind of addons and services it can support. Wordpress, for example, can eat up a decent amount of RAM if you were to leave about 50+ plugins running on your site for various purposes.
From the last paragraph, it is probably clear to you that there is a lot to your web hosting service than just money and space. Therefore, you will want to choose a web hosting provider that will allow you to swiftly and easily upgrade your hosting plan and server as and when your business grows and you need a server with higher specs. Upscale ability is an important consideration when choosing a proper web host, though most popular options like GoDaddy, HostGator, BlueHost and so on do quite well on upscaling.
Then there is the consideration of specialization. Do you want a web hosting provider specifically designed for WordPress blogs? You may consider using BlueHost, a service provider recommended by WordPress itself when it comes to feasibility and standards. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a web hosting provider designed to go well with a phpBB forum or a static HTML website, choices will obviously differ. When choosing your web hosting provider, always keep its area of specialization in mind. It can come really handy later on as you try and integrate your website to the hosting provider's backend.
Boy! I have probably given you a lot to think about. To keep it simple for novice users, I recommend getting one of the standard shared hosting plans from popular providers like GoDaddy or DreamHost. You can upscale your plan as needed later on. Some popular ISPs such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable also offer a decent suite of web hosting services to match your professional needs. As far as one-stop solutions are concerned, popular website builders like Wix and Weebly also come with proper hosting plans and complimentary domain names with any of the premium plans. Whatever you may choose, make sure you do your research.