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How to choose a web hosting provider

Question: How do I choose a web hosting provider, and which ones do you recommend?"

There are literally dozens of web hosting providers to choose from, and it can be challenging to figure out the best choice. Price is certainly a consideration, and the features that come bundled with each hosting plan... but it's also important to have good technical support when things go wrong or when you have questions.

For readers who are wondering what a web hosting provider is, it's a company that stores your web pages and makes them viewable on the Internet for others to see. Hosting providers are a lot like TV stations that broadcast TV shows to the world, except they're broadcasting web pages... and over the Internet.

Web hosting providers offer several web hosting packages (plans) that range from a low-cost shared hosting plan, where your site exists on the same server as several other web sites, to a fully dedicated server that offers the highest level of performance and control.

What type of website do you need?

The first step in choosing a web hosting provider is actually to figure out what kind of site you want, because then you'll know what features you need your hosting provider to have.

BLOG: Many people want to start a blog and hope to make money on advertising, which is becoming a very popular thing to do. Blogging platforms like Wordpress and Blogger make it very easy to create blog posts, and don't require you to know anything about coding or HTML.

Hostmonster includes a 1-click installation of Wordpress, so you can quickly and easily install your blog. You'll find complete instructions for starting a blog here

FORUM: If you want to build a site where many people can share their ideas, discuss their opinions, or share their knowledge with each other then you'll want to set up a forum. Where blogs are the voice of one person (you) forums give a voice to many people. Wordpress also has a forum plugin that lets you have both a blog and forum on the same site.

SHOPPING-CART: If you have something you want to sell online, then you'll want to use an ecommerce platform like Square, Spotify, or BigCommerce. All of these commerce platforms can be integrated into a blog or forum, or have a script that lets you embed a shopping cart into your blog or forum.

Square is completely free and very easy to use. You only pay a small percentage of each credit card sale, so you're only paying when you're actually selling. Once your product catalog has been created, they give you a script you can copy and paste into your website for an instant shopping cart.


The playing field has leveled significantly over the last couple of years as hardware and network performance has increased greatly, and costs have gone down.

But there are still a few things worth considering to make sure you're getting as much as possible for your hard-earned money. You shouldn't need to pay more than 5 bucks a month for a very basic web site, and look out for hidden setup fees or charges for adding additional databases or new domains to your account.

In fact, web hosting providers like GoDaddy and 1and1 are offering free domain names and hosting prices as low as 99 cents a day. That means you can reserve a domain name, and set up a website for only about $12 for an entire year!


Bandwidth/Storage: Bandwidth is the amount of traffic the site will support and the amount of file storage you can use. In most cases you'll receive far more bandwidth than your site will ever use, and in some cases the web host will even offer unlimited bandwidth (knowing you'll never actually use that much).

Add-On Domains and Databases: If you come up with another website idea in the future you'll want to add a new domain name to your web hosting account. If you install Wordpress or Drupal then you'll need additional databases to store user accounts and web pages.

Website Builder: Even if you know HTML and are super technical, it's way faster and easier to use a website builder to construct your web pages using drag and drop designers and widgets.

Email Accounts: You'll want at least one email addresses for your site, and in many cases several of them (e.g. info@yoursite.com, sales@yoursite.com, support@yoursite.com).


If your site is having problems, or if you need help getting started, then make sure the web hosting provider offers free technical support from an actual person... not just a ticketing system.

Support has been the number one reason I've stayed with HostMonster for so long. They provide real-time live support so I can pick up the phone and talk to a knowledgeable support tech 24/7 or I can send email or chat with a live technician. They are very prompt and have always been able to quickly solve my problems.

Dear Ricky,

I Stumbled upon your forum on Web Hosting Comparisons and found the information to be very useful since I am seeking a new Web Host for our site. Presently, we use Yahoo Web Hosting. Initially, it didn't seem like a bad service, but I know realize that there are better hosts who don't charge as much as Yahoo.

I liked what I read about Lunarpages on their site. My only question is that we have a URL address through Yahoo that has been out there for several years and I would not want to change to a different URL. I didn't read anything on the Lunarpages site about migrating our URL to Lunarpages. Do you know offhand if that can be done with them? I know I could call their phone line to get an answer, but I would have preferred to email them, however they don't list an e-mail address. I was hoping that you might have an answer. Thank you!


+Bishop Russell F. Coates, Jr., FDP
Rocky Hill, CT

I've worked with the folks at Lunarpages and they can definitely help you transfer your existing domain over to their service. They've always been very helpful to me via phone or email - just use support@lunarpages.com.

As with any domain transfer, you should expect about a 24 hour period where your site is down due to the transfer. It can be as little as a few hours, or as long as 24 hours, which gives the DNS servers time to adjust to the new IP address (each domain name is associated to a unique numeric IP address, and that IP address changes behind the scenes when you switch web hosting providers).

Once you've transferred your domain, you'll be able to access it using the same internet address that you're currently using.

Hope this helps, and feel free to post any other questions you may have.

What about nearlyfreespeech.net? They charge you for only what you use, with accounts similar to a prepaid phone. They charge $0.01/mb/month storage and $1.00/GB bandwidth, and a mysql process costs $0.01 a day allowing you unlimited databases. This is defginitely grat for smaller sites, who may not need everything in these packages.

Thanks for the comparisons. But from my personal experiences i will advise not to use those who offer unlimited or few K GB bandwidth, as soon you will realize many times your website is offline or responding very slow.

Lunarpages can definitely help you transfer your existing domain over to their service. They've always been very helpful to me via phone or email.

The comparison of different web hosting companies in this site has really helped us in choosing the appropriate plan and hosting company. Personally I have found Godaddy better than others but it is costly so Hostmonster is another best solution.

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