Choosing a Web Host
This guide assumes you are choosing a Web Host for the first time.
What are you looking for?
Before you start looking for a host you need to know want from your host, what options you need, how much server space etc. Here are some of the questions you may want to ask yourself:
To begin with, server space: how large is your site going to be? Is it just a personal home page which may probably only be 10 pages? Or a business site where you want to sell products/services? Will 10mb be enough or will you need 50mb? Don't choose a host because they offer 500mb at a cheap price, especially when your site may never reach 5mb!
Do you need many email accounts? No reason why you would need more than 5 anyway, but many offer much more. Do you need to be able to access your mail accounts on the web or will you have to use a mail client such as Outlook Express? How about a mailing list, do you need one?
What about server side scripts? Do you need a cgi-bin or ability to run scripts such as formmail, voting scripts, site search, content management systems?
Do you need the ability to use Server Side Includes or password protect directories with .htaccess?
Will you have a control panel to manage your site? Will you have FTP or how can you upload files to your site?
What about a database? Will your site required that you have
MySQL as backup?
How much are you prepared to pay?
This is not a major issue as most web hosts are very reasonably priced these days. In my opinion you should get all you need for approximately US$10 per month. Many European web hosts are more expensive than this, but may offer some better options. Shop around!
Once you know what you want you can start looking at web hosts. Do a search on the net, check sites like www.tophosts.com or webhostinggeeks.com
Compile a list of the best hosts you can find. Start to narrow this list down to a manageable figure like 4-5 by checking their options and eliminating those who either don't offer what you need or are way too costly for what they offer, compare one host against the other.
Apart from the options there's a few things you should check for:
Once you have narrowed down the list of potential hosts then comes final selection! Start mailing the hosts.
Compile a list of questions! Was their something in their web site you were unsure of? Something not mentioned on their site that you need to know? Something else you need confirmation on?
Make a nice list of questions and send it to each host. Gauge their response time, their willingness to answer your questions, how well they answer your questions, their attitude and so on.
Hopefully after you have received their responses you will have an idea of who you want to host with! If not you can mail them again with more questions or search again and compile a new list.
Choosing a host is really trial and error, the best thing is just to get started! Choose as best you can, select a host and go for it. You should have 30 days to try them out and even after 30 days you can still cancel your account if you are not happy!
Hope that helps!
Summary check list.
In not particular order. What's important to you?