When choosing a web hosting company there are a whole lot of different factors that should go into your decision making process. One of the biggest factors should be:
- Phone support. Email support is nice, but email occasionally falls in between the virtual cracks. Getting someone on the phone when your site goes down can take a lot of mystery out of the entire process. A lot of the bigger web hosting companies offer toll free support and weekend hours to boot. Phone support is a great benefit for any web hosting client.
- Another factor to use in deciding whether to use a particular web hosting company is their history. How long has this company been in business? Web hosting companies that have been in existence for less than a year might not be the best choice. A hosting company with a proven track record and a ton of happy clients is certainly a good sign and might work well for you.
- How about the company's software? This varies widely between web hosting companies. I am rather fond of Cpanel merely because I am used to it, understand where the buttons are and what the features do. It's much easier to stick with something you know than switching to a new User Interface. Some web hosts offer Frontpage features and others don't. Another specific area you might want to research are the statistics programs. What sort of web statistics software is included with your web hosting account? Is Awstats included? This is one area you definitely want to heavily research before signing up.
- Fees. I'd rather pay a little more to get all the features than fight it out with a sub par web hosting company who I can't reach if my site goes down. I've found decent web hosting for as cheap as $4 per month but generally pay around $15 per month if I want all the bells and whistles that I'll need to host a larger site. A lot of people worry about hosting fees, but I've had the experience that I generally get what I pay for.
Finally, I'd look carefully at the web hosting company's refund policy. Most offer a full refund if you aren't happy with your service. If you are paying for a full year of web hosting up front, you might want to examine the company's refund policy in detail.