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How to choose a webhosting company

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The decision you make about which webhosting company to choose is one of the most important you'll make regarding your website, whether it's a personal website or professional one.

Just doing an Internet search for webhosting companies though will return several hundred possible results, at least. There are a dizzying array of options for webhosting.

So how are you to choose just one? Here are a few ideas for narrowing down that list of thousands into something far more manageable.

Check out your competition

There are probably a dozen websites similar to yours, whether you have a personal website or professional website that you need webhosting for.

Look for websites -- you probably already have some of them bookmarked -- that have a similar content and scope with yours.

Look and see which webhosting company handles each site. It is likely that if they can handle a similar site well (in terms of graphics, site size, uptime, etc.), they'll host yours well too. 

Ask around

Chances are, you have personal and professional contacts that have personal or business websites and webhosting agreements in place. Network with your colleagues and ask them about their webhosting experiences.

They are very likely to tell you of positive and negative experiences both. Some of your contacts may use local webhosting companies; some may use the big hosting firms; and some may have a great experience with a smaller reseller.

Personal experiences mean a lot, especially the experiences of people that you know and you trust.

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Compare apples to apples

Many webhosting companies post their service plans and packages online.

They include the monthly rate and the major details, like traffic allowed, storage space, number of email boxes and email space, inclusion of a domain name, programming platforms and databases supported, etc. 

Once you've narrowed your choice of webhosting companies down to say, three to five, make a list of each company and its offerings.

Make sure that you compare apples to apples, that is, if one company charges by the month and another by the year, break down the yearly cost by twelve, so that you can compare it with the monthly-billed plans.

Do the same for the technical specs (like traffic, storage, etc.) and other benefits and support items that you may be interested in, like MySQL, Ruby on Rails, etc.

The thing to remember is to compare each webhosting company's offerings according to the same standard, to get a good idea of what each plan is really costing you and really offering you as a customer.

There are a number of ways to choose a webhosting company. While it may feel like there must be a million different companies to choose from, if you plan out a strategy, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Narrow your choices based on what companies host websites similar to yours in size and nature. Then ask the people you know for recommendations.

Finally, sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil and make a detailed list of what each company offers. That will help you make the right decision.

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