You are here: Home > Networking

Selecting a web hosting provider

  • Server location: Most hosting providers have their PCs in the US. Some Indian companies have their servers in India (many Indian companies would be resellers and so the actual data center will be abroad).

  • How much space is provided and how much would you need? This is the amount of MB that your webpages will occupy.

  • Data transfer limit: The web host provider is actually giving you some physical space on his PC which is connected to the internet. He is going to be charged by his ISP depending on the amount of data that flows from his PC or into his PC. So you will find that hosting space providers will specify a maximum data transfer limit per month – maybe 1GB or 5GB.
    And in case your website uses more than this then you will be charged for the extra.

How do you know much your website will require? Let’s say you have a single webpage of 100KB. So a single access to your website will mean that 100KB of info needs to be sent from the hosting PC to the user’s machine. If another user tries to access your site then that user will download 100KB. So now your website has done 200KB of data transfer. If you have 100 users in a month then you’ve used 100 * 100KB = 10,000KB or 10MB.

Note: It isn’t the number of users alone which affects the data transferred. If the same user access your website today and tomorrow then it is equal to 200KB data transfer to this user. Or if he hits the refresh button 3 times then your website will send the 100KB three times to this user; so total data transferred = 300KB.

It all depends on what you feel about your website - if all the pages are large in size or if you feel the website will have a lot of visitors or if you are putting up some downloadable material (like your own graphics or music) then you should look for plans which offer a higher data transfer amount.

Beware: You might come across companies saying they permit "unlimited" data transfer but this is generally untrue. Shoot an email to them asking what is the limit and they would reply quoting some particular value (the provider assumes that majority of websites will not use that much data transfer and hence will claim to be unlimited but in reality they won't - the limits would be specified somewhere in the fine print).

  • Email: Almost all web hosting providers, provide a limited number of email boxes for your website. There will be a limitation on the number of accounts and on the total size of all mailboxes. You will need a large count here only if you plan to provide email IDs under your domain name for many people; the email IDs will be something like ''.

  • Databases: Do you want to use a database in your website? If yes then decide what DB you want (MS SQL, MS Access, MySQL or will anything suffice?) and compare with the options provided by the hosting provider.

  • Languages supported: If you have pages or want to use .NET pages then ensure that the provider supports .NET. Some plans may and some plans may not.

  • Windows/Linux servers: Some hosting providers specialize in one of the two while many offer both. Generally the Linux option will be cheaper than the Windows option but see the list of supported features under each before you make a choice. For instance if you want to use MS SQL server then this won't be available under the Linux hosting option. Similarly if you want to host .NET pages, you won't be able to do so on a Linux server; but picking a Windows server doesn't guarantee that you will have .NET support either. Do check if IIS or .NET is explicitly called out.

Tips before you register with a hosting provider

  • Cost: Similar plans across web hosting providers will vary. It will be hard to find exactly equivalent plans across providers as well; so it is not easy to compare. Look at what your requirements are and then try to identify which plans will suit you.

  • Renewal vs new purchase: A lot of web hosting providers have a different price when you do a fresh purchase of a web hosting plan vs when you do a renewal. The renewal amount sometimes is even 50% more than the cost of purchasing a new plan. It'll seem strange - a few hosting providers are very clear about this - so they explicitly call out how much for new purchase vs renewal on their pricing page. But some providers don't call this out - so do email/chat with the provider to clarify on this. You can always keep purchasing a fresh plan upon expiry - just that you have to go through the pain of backup and restoring your pages (it'll be like setting up your website fresh on every expiry; but a renewal would not require you to do anything). The reason web hosting providers have this differential pricing is basically to attract new customers. I have seen a few providers in the past who would actually provide a discount if you asked them during renewal time.

  • Discount coupons: for some hosting providers you will find discount coupons available online which can help lower the cost of purchasing the web hosting plan. Just google for the hosting provider and coupon to see if something is available.

  • Check out the response time of the web hosting provider - before enrolling for their service send them some emails with queries and see how long they take to reply back (once you begin researching into hosting providers you'll start having a few questions to which you can't find concrete answers on the websites; so shoot an email and ask them about it). The faster their response time the better.

  •  Check out reviews about the web hosting company - "how to do this" you ask? Just Gooooooooogle the company name along with the keyword "review" in the search box and see if anything useful pops up. You might get some interesting information from reviews.

  • Don't take anything for granted unless it is explicitly stated by the webhosting provider. Do read the terms and conditions (which are always in really fine print) - you will feel comfortable by zooming the font so that you don't increase your eye power in the process!

  • Have some webpages ready before you pay the money and register your domain space so that as soon as the formalities are completed you can immediately put up your website on the net from day 1. It is good if you have the first version of your website ready for deployment before you register the domain name or pay for the space.


Tips after you register with a hosting provider

  • Test your website on your own PC before you go online - every webpage you develop should be checked on your PC before uploading (FTPing) it into the web hosting server. Ensure things work on your own PC before you put it up for the entire world to see. Remember: If a user comes to your page and finds errors (page cannot be found, scripting errors etc.) you are going to lose out on that user.

  • Server on your PC for testing: To test your website on your own PC you would need to have a server (preferrably the same one used by your web hosting provider). If you don't have any server on your own PC then you will be forced to use the web hosting server itself for testing whatever changes you make.

  • There are custom applications provided by web hosting providers - like traffic analyzers, blogging applications, ecommerce apps etc. Go through what is available and make the best use of them in your website. The benefit of these custom apps is that you don't need to recreate these functionalities (the drawback is that if you switch hosting providers you may not find the custom app available in the new web hosting provider) - typically apps like Wordpress will be available on most hosting providers.

  • Refund: Most providers will have a refund option as long as you request for it within their specified time period. So it is important that once you get your web hosting space to test it out immediately and in case you have any issues request for a refund.