A guide to choosing a shared web hosting package

In this article we look at the main factors in choosing a shared web hosting package. We look at disk space, email allowance, bandwidth allowance, scripting versions, customer and technical support.

Shared hosting is the most common type of web hosting available and is typically available at a low monthly cost. It is bit of a challenge however because there a few things you need to ask yourself before committing to buying such a package. There are also so many web hosting providers to choose from, each with their own choice of packages.

Below are some of the important things you should consider. The most important are disk space, email allowance, bandwidth allowance, customer and technical support and security. 

1) Determine your website needs

You should decide what your website is going to do. Will it be a simple company website or a website for a society or club? In this case a shared hosting package is the solution. Will it be an e-commerce website or a forum with potentially massive volumes of traffic and high rates of data transfer? In this case a dedicated server hosting package will be the solution. 

2) Compare the different packages and prices

Having determined what your website is going to do you should look at the packages available and prices.

At present the web hosting providers all offer low cost and basic packages that include a small amount of disk space, email and FTP and some extra features. As the packages get more advanced, with more disk space, email allowance and the number of additional advanced features, the prices increase. 

Make a list of providers that have a good reputation and customer feedback. Also list what each of them provide and compare them to what you are looking for.

There are lots of web hosting firms offering disk space all at different prices, with discounts and all with different features.

Watch for promotional discounts. Discounts are good because you can get at least 6 months of web hosting at a reduced cost. However, see what the regular price is because it may be too much for your budget when the discount ends. 

3) Disk space allowance

This should be your first concern. You should look at the disk space your website available and see if it will be enough for your website and provide growing room for later. Disk space is fairly generous because capacity has gotten larger in recent years and images and video have become geared more to loading faster and to taking up less disk space. More space also allows for room for expanding if you need it.

4) Email allowance

Next you should check out the available disk space allowance for email and the features included.

Will your email address be used heavily and get lots of big attachments? In this case if this is likely then a large amount of space would be advisable.

Will you want to download your email into an email client such as Outlook or Apple Mail by POP3? In this case you if you clear your email box daily you can settle for a small amount of email disk space.

Will you just login into your email on the Internet like yahoo and gmail email? In this case you may want plenty of space. 

How many email addresses will you need? You may need separate email addresses for each colleague in addition to general email addresses if your business is a medium or large one. For a small business, just a couple may be sufficient.

What spam filtering features are there? Spam can’t be 100% prevented from reaching your inbox but a good email service with proper spam and filtering capabilities can filter a majority of out before it gets to your web mail inbox and so you don’t down load it if using POP3.

5) Scripting versions

You should look at what scripting version is used by a web hosting provider. You should ensure that features in your website including scripting such as ASP, ASP.NET and PHP will work when your website is published. 

6) Bandwidth allowance

The bandwidth allowance imposed by a hosting provider is one of the most important factors in choosing a package. As your website gets known and more people find it the traffic will increase. This means more and more information will be transferred and so more of the bandwidth allowance will be used up. If the limit of the allowance is reached the website either becomes unavailable or you get charged extra for the extra bandwidth used.

7) Technical and customer support

Excellent support of customers and technical support are also just as important as everything else when deciding on a package. It is vital that if and when things go wrong that support is there for you to help you with your problem and that is efficient, friendly, and professional. In many cases everything does work as expected. You are billed correctly, your website runs fine and the hosting package is online all day, every day, and all year long.

Choose a provider that has good customer and technical support and well reviewed. Some of the best providers may have some bad reviews but don’t be put off entirely. If on the whole the support they provide is excellent then you can be safe in that knowledge. If support generally not reviewed at well then you should look at another provider.  

8) Security

Excellent security of your website and the hosting is equally important as customer and technical support. Your provider must show that it has security at the forefront of its service so that your account, your personal information, and your website are secure as a reinforced underground concrete bunker against hackers and viruses.