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Tips, resources, product reviews and general information relating to web design, web marketing, the latest trends and random thoughts from Keystrokes Design and Marketing.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Looking for a Needle in a Host Stack

Once you have settled on a domain name and purchased it, what comes next? A place to host it, of course. There are thousands of companies who can host your site, and hundreds who would probably suit your needs just fine. So how do you find that perfect fit? It is kind of like looking for a needle in a host stack.

If you are having a designer create your site for you, you should probably get their input first as they may have a favorite hosting company. If you are going to take the do-it-yourself approach, then here are some things to consider.

What do you need your site to do? Will it just be a static e-brochure or does it need to work harder than that? Things you may or may not need:

  • Shopping cart
  • Email distribution lists
  • POP Email accounts
  • Database support
  • Content manager
  • Discussion forum capability
Once you have determined what you need, go shopping! Chances are, if you are just starting out, disk space and bandwidth are really not going to be an issue - just about everyone's entry level package will have ample space and bandwidth for your needs. Narrow your list based on which company and package have the features you anticipate needing. Now comes the tricky part - all other factors equal, what makes Company A's package more attractive than Company B's? How is their tech support? How intuitive is the control panel? Are there hidden fees? What is their uptime record like?

As I have been building web sites for about a decade, I have had a chance to interact with quite a few web hosts and have formed my own opinions. I currently have about 40 client and personal web sites spread out over three web hosting companies.

I have been using Jumpline.com as a hosting company since 1998. I can honestly say, they have never let me down! Their tech support is fantastic and chances are, when you call, you'll get one of the same people each time - they have not experienced much turnover in that department at all. I think they are a bit more expensive, but they are worth it. They offer a very stable hosting environment, great tech support and I have had almost no downtime in all these years. They do have many add-ons available, but they are not always intuitive to install and configure.

If you need custom or creative solutions, then Triangle Web Solutions is the one to go with. They are a smaller company, but offer the flexibilty that many of my clients need. Their control panel is one of the easiest to work with and their mailing list software is tops.

My newest favorite is Host Gator! I have been amazed at what they offer for the price. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, then Host Gator is for you. They have hosting programs to fit every need, the control panel is so easy, and the list of instantly available add-ons is unbelievable. I was able to install e-commerce software at no extra charge in a matter of minutes. They have mailing list capability, discussion boards that are easy to set up and Site Builder tools that even a novice could work with.

Finding the perfect fit may take some time and research, but it will be worth it!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The move from Alabanza was a disaster for some clients and cost one of mine thousands of dollars due to downtime and lost files.

Email spam and lost emails has been a serious problem since the beginning of October 2006. Jumpline's assurances that things would be resolved by various dates have given way to apologies. At the moment there is no reliable spam protection on Jumpline's server.

1:21 PM


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