Vital features to look after before buying web hosting

This post is especially for website developers, but it mentions many vital features which can be considered by businesses also before purchasing a web hosting plan for their websites.

Here are mentioned some points which you should consider before purchasing a web hosting plan.


  1. Disk Space

For most small and medium web sites, you’ll find that several gigabytes should be plenty of storage. Some hosts may offer “unlimited storage”: caveat emptor! If you read the fine print (usually, the Terms and Services) you’ll find that it’s unlimited until you go over the “normal site usage.” If you think you might be close to or over whatever “normal” is, make sure you know what you can use before buying.


  1. Bandwidth

Bandwidth is generally the amount of data that your host will let you and your visitors upload and download (cumulatively) in a given month. Say your website is 1 megabyte of data and your monthly bandwidth is 10 MB. At the beginning of the month, you upload the entire site; now you’ve used up one MB of bandwidth. If a visitor to your site views every page, they will have downloaded 1MB of data. That means you can have up to 9 visitors in that month (assuming each views your whole site). After that, your web host will either not allow any more visitors, or (more likely) charge you extra per MB. Of course, your bandwidth is something you’ll want to keep an eye on, especially if you run a fairly popular site or do something media intensive (like host your own video or high-res photos).


  1. Domains and Subdomains

It would be a pain to have to manage a hosting account for each site you own, so make sure your web host will let you host multiple domains. Often, there will be a limit on how many domains you can have on one account; make sure it will accommodate you! Usually, there will be a section in the admin panel for adding your domains and choosing which sub-folders each one will point to.


  1. Number of Email IDs and Features

You’ll want to know how many email accounts they’ll let you set up; also, don’t forget to check out their selections for receiving that mail. Do they have a webmail interface? How about integration with Google Apps (for the Gmail interface)? Can you get your mail in your client of choice via IMAP, or do they only offer POP?


  1. Database Support

You’ll want to make sure you can use the type of database you’re comfortable with. Most hosts today offer MySQL; that’s probably enough for most people, but if you’d prefer PostsgreSQL, Oracle, SQL Server, or another flavour, don’t settle for anything less.


  1. Technical Support

Find out exactly what your prospective host offers for tech support: can you phone them? At what times? Do they have a support email address? Is there an automated ticket system? What’s their promised response time? How about a live chat? Do they have a wiki or library of help articles / tutorials? Don’t final a host until you know precisely what kind of support they offer.


  1. .htaccess Files

.htaccess file It’s a configuration file used by Apache server. You will want the ability to add your own .htaccess files to your directories. You can use them to password protect directories, re-write URLs, redirect pages, and more.


  1. Cron Jobs

Cron jobs are another great feature to have on your web host. Cron is a “time-based job scheduler” that you can use to perform tasks on the server at given times.


  1. Language Support

Make sure the host you plan to choose offers support for the server-side languages you want to use. If you plan to pick up Ruby on Rails in the next few months, you probably want to see it on the list of supported frameworks.


  1. Site Backup

Remember, servers are just big computers that everyone can read files from! What backup options, if any, does your host provide? You’ll want to back up both your site files and databases. If they don’t offer backup, figure out how you’ll be able to do it yourself.


  1. OS Choice

Of course, if you’re developing in ASP.NET, you’ll need Windows hosting; that’s a little harder to find, and often a bit more expensive, but if you’re a Microsoft developer, the extra cost will be worth it. If you’re using an open source language, you probably won’t need to worry about which Linux/Unix distribution you’ll get; however, some hosts give you options, and some developers may have preferences, so it’s worth mentioning.


  1. Additional Applications

Several hosts offer set-ups for social features like forums, bulletin boards, mailing lists. If you’ll be running an online store, some hosts offer setups for e-Commerce solutions.


  1. Server Uptime

Find out how reliable your prospective host is; when you’re doing this, it’s important to read the fine print. Often, hosts will stretch the truth a bit (claiming 99.9% uptime, not counting almost everything that could go wrong), so make sure you understand exactly what “100% uptime” means.