You're getting very close now to having your first website up and on the World Wide Web. It is decision time again. Who is going to host your site for you? You need to find yourself a web host.
A common mistake made by many when they first start out is just to choose the cheapest host company that is available. They may all look the same at a quick glance but believe me they are not.
You need to ask yourself a few questions about your website before deciding on a reliable web host provider.
1. Does your website have a lot of graphics and videos?
2. As you add to your site are your pages going to be made off site and uploaded to your website?
3. Is your website a hobby site, a blog or an e-commerce site?
As you research into the many so-called reliable web host providers you will find you can actually get free hosting. Free hosting is usually slow - which would not be good for your visitors and ads are placed on the site also, which I would think would be a distraction to what you want to be happening on your site. As tempting as free is I think I would steer clear unless you really can't afford to purchase this service.
As you continue looking into reliable web host providers you noticed some are called shared servers and others are called dedicated servers. A shared server is basically when your site is sharing the hard drive and bandwidth allowance with many other sites. On the other hand a dedicated server only has your site on it, you share with no one. It is completely dedicated to you and your business.
Another type of hosting is reseller where you actually become web hosts. This is not recommended for beginners.
Other features that you should be concerned about when choosing a reliable web host provider is how much bandwidth you are allowed. Many will say unlimited but be sure to read the fine print. Usually unlimited does have limits also. Bandwidth is needed for the traffic that visits your site, for emails sent and received for things uploaded and downloaded from your site. Bandwidth is important so if you do not have enough make sure you can at least upgrade to get more.
Do they have 24-7 technical support? How fast do they respond? Are they dependable? Most of these questions can only be answered by people who use them, so see if they have any testimonials from some of their customers.
Do they provide FTP access? As you expand your site and add pages, those pages may be built off site and then need to be uploaded to your website. In order to do that you will need FTP access.
You also need to know how reliable your web host provider is. You do not want your site to be down on a regular basis and if it does go down you want the problem fixed fast. Being down could result in loss of visitors which in turn means loss of business and money.
The only way to know how if you have picked out a reliable web host provider is through your own experience or through word of mouth from other users.
One other aspect of a reliable web host provider that many users look for is whether or not they offer CPanel. CPanel is very user-friendly with easy installation for WordPress, Joomla and other software.
I realize that I have barely scratched the surface on the things you should be looking for when looking for a reliable web host provider but I think you have enough information now to at least motivate you to start looking.
Looking for a reliable web host provider is all part of learning how to start an online business.