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The first thing to consider is what are you going to use the hosting for exactly - that gives specific questions you can answer. Give more info. –  dunxd Dec 17 '10 at 8:56
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marked as duplicate by John Conde Mar 30 '12 at 11:18

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Longevity is another consideration. Do some searches on the provider and see how far back your results go. If they've been around a while, they're much more likely to stay around. Switching when a fly-by-night goes down and takes all your data with them is a painful process.

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Country matters a lot. Modern search engines give attention to the location of the hosting, so the site will rank better

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site will rank better in all countries? no –  JP19 Jan 4 '11 at 6:37
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If you have a website targeted at users in country X, get a server in country X. 2 reasons:

1) Page load time: Why have an average ping time of 200 ms between users and your server when you can have a 100 ms ping time?

2) SEO:

Assume two websites 'A' and 'B' with exact keywords, exact page rank (overall page rank as well exact internal points google has computed), etc. 'A' is hosted in Australia and 'B' in Bulgaria. If a person from Australia searches, site 'A' will appear before 'B', if a person in Bulgaria searches, 'B' will appear before 'A' in search results.

(Note the clause: "all other things being equal" - which includes lots of things).


Other points to consider:

1) Dont pay too much. There are good hosts for cheap these days.

2) Are you paying for an year in advance. Avoid if you are not sure about the quality of provider.

3) Customer service

4) Billing policies. Does the provider store your credit card info? Do they automatically overcharge for overusage?

5) Track record/history/reviews.

6) Do they show too many ads even when you try to manage your site (I don't like godaddy for this - but otherwise its good).

7) Experiment/try out and find what suits you best.

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If you are running php/mySQL I have found I like the following:

Versions:

Some services believe it or not still only run php 4. It's good to be able to run php 4 or php 5 and to be able to change that without calling tech support.

Server:

Linux/Unix is great, but some hosts try to offer php/MySQL on a Windows server, and that is no fun.

Chat:

Live tech support chat is great, much better than having to call.

Databases:

This one is tricky, but I would try to choose a service that doesn't cram many databases onto a single server. This is really where you pay for what you get. If your database is on a server with many other hosting accounts it WILL slow your site down. Not a big deal for a small blog but if you are getting 1000 hits a week or more you will feel the difference.

Even with cheap hosting services this varies from company to company. You might go with $6/month account from Company A and have an okay site and if you went with Company B your site will take over 12 seconds to load every single time!

Basically, google your company of choice and the words "complaints" or "problems" and see what kind of comments are coming up.

Ease of use and control panel:

Depending on how much php/mySQL you know, it's good to have phpMyAdmin installed (if not you can run desktop software like mySQL workbench or whatever). It's also nice to have auto-install of software like Drupal or Wordpress if available.

It's nice have SSH (shell access) as a FREE option.

Also, having a direct link to your control panel (i.e. something like www.mydomain.com/controlpanel/). There is nothing more annoying after while than having to click through a company website five times every time you need to log in and make changes to your service or billing.

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You want to check to ensure they are a legit business, and then run some basic speed / network tests to ensure optimal connectivity to your home or business location where you or your users will be accessing your website from. A good test is to wait until about 4 am and email any providers your thinking about and see how well their replies are, and how quickly they come.

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Speed tests might be a good idea (be sure to test from all locations your visitors might be surfing from), but I don't think emailing potential web hosts at 4am serves any purpose. Most web hosts only provide support to customers and use different contacts & personnel for general inquiries and sales. So just because you email their support staff with a "test" at 4AM and they don't respond to you immediately does not mean their support is slow. Likewise, unless you have a real support problem, you won't be able to tell if their support staff are knowledgeable or not. –  Lèse majesté Dec 17 '10 at 10:14
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Country mainly matters in your ability to deal with the particular webhost and if the location affects the connectivity of you and your target audience to the server.

1. How many resources will your website(s) consume?

Are you just dabbling around on a personal blog or practicing some scripting? You could get by with cheap, shared hosting or a VPS. Or maybe you already have an application/website with decent traffic/activity and want to go straight to a hybrid or dedicated server. For most people just wanting their first website, I'd recommend a managed VPS that has an easy interface for installing applications like Wordpress. You can get a basic package for $10-15/month.

2. Do you know how to set up your server or do you want managed hosting with support staff that can help you do things like install applications and change your server environment for you?

This is often overlooked. Find out if a hosting package is "managed" or not. If you're unfamiliar with things like configuring Apache or working with the command line, you'll most likely want managed hosting. Else, you can find yourself lost off the bat.

3. What are you developing?

Are you just dealing with PHP applications like Wordpress with a MySQL database? Then you can get by on most generic Linux server packages. Do you need access to the command line or the server root? Do you need a webhost that can make server root changes for you?

I'd guess that 90% of people just getting their first website only need a cheap, generic Linux/Apache/MySQL VPS with a support staff that can help deliver their fundamental needs and questions.

If you want further advice, you'll have to give us more information.

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If you specify in webmaster tools what location you prefer and have an address on the footer of your website, Google will understand. If you are in a third world country, DO NOT get hosting there. Get hosting only from a 1st world country.

For SEO purposes every website should have an address on the footer. Google and others use this as important clues in rankings.

I have USA sites hosted in Germany. Australian sites hosted in USA. If its done properly there is no problem.

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If you have a website target at users in country X, get a server in country X. 2 reasons - SEO and second: effective page load time for end users. –  JP19 Jan 4 '11 at 6:36
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