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Can We Choose Web Hosting Only by Price?

By Virginia Lawrence

There are so many great "deals" in Web hosting it appears that it would be stupid to pay more than $90 per year for Web hosting. This is a topic that comes up all the time with my new Web site clients.

My answer is that the choice of host depends on the complexity of the site and its importance to your business. Here are the main differences in terms of what they mean to the site owner.

Least Expensive Web Hosts

The really cheap Web hosts are saving money somewhere, and it’s usually in tech support and in server support. That is, we’ll wait thirty minutes on the phone to talk to a tech support person who doesn’t know the answer because the problem is not in his database. Or, we’ll wait thirty minutes to talk to someone who doesn’t understand the question because his first language is not English. Plus, the servers in general are not well maintained, and they are far more likely to go down and stay down. That leaves everyone on the server with no Web site and no e-mail!

I’ve had new clients whose businesses depended on the shopping carts offered by their cheap Web hosts. In both cases, those online stores went down frequently, costing clients days of online sales.

Because the staff members at these inexpensive hosts don’t have enough technical expertise, the hosts won’t let us do the technical things we want to do. It’s not possible to install sophisticated software or scripts to carry out various Web site tasks.

Oh, I’m willing to give a new client’s existing Web host a chance. When someone comes to me, asking for an update for a simple Web site on one of the least expensive Web hosts, I’ll leave the site where it is. That is, I’ll leave the site there if we are not scheduled to add new scripting and if the host has not been a problem in the site’s past or mine. I don’t mess with something that’s working, but the minute anything goes wrong and I cannot reach tech support, that site gets moved. I refuse to spend any more of my life waiting for the chance to talk to incompetent tech support.

More Expensive Web Hosts

I dislike writing "More Expensive Web Hosts," because that sounds as though the Web hosts I like are expensive. Not at all. My favorite Web host charges only $9.95 per month for a small site with up to twenty-six e-mail boxes. That’s not much more than the cheapies, but the site owner gets so much more:

  • 24-hour server maintenance. Yes, a server may go down occasionally, but it won’t stay down more than a minute or two.
  • 24-hour tech support with technicians who answer the phone immediately and who understand the system.
  • Full account access on the server so that we can install forms and shopping carts and mailing programs.
  • The fastest possible connections between the site and the rest of the Web. This lets the site come up faster than it would with ordinary, slower connections.

Summary

Saving money is admirable, even on Web hosting. We want to be sure that we have a low-cost, professional Web host that can handle the responsibilities of hosting and keep our sites online and well-connected. Because Web hosting companies are not all alike, we must avoid choosing a Web host by price only.

–© 2006 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is a professional Web Developer and Online Marketing Consultant. She routinely places client sites on the first page of Google and Yahoo search. Contact her at virginia@spawn.org or visit her Web site at http://www.cognitext.com.

 

 

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