By Adam Sullivan
As internet professionals it becomes a necessary thing to know what to expect from web hosting providers. Internet service providers are a dime a dozen and so are web hosting providers but, while you can sit in a coffee shop and check your email through wireless internet if your DSL goes down, many times your business can come to a screeching halt when your web host has issues.
I've been in that situation a few times and with a few different hosting providers. When you run an online business that generates daily revenue a hosting outage or problem can make you lose alot of hair. This is why it is absolutely imperative that you do the research ahead of time to ensure that you get the right hosting provider for your business. For those of you that are too late on this, you can get it right the second or third time around. Do your math and give your business stability and security.
Whatever you do, never go cheap if your making money or expect to be. This is the most common mistake people make as internet business owners. You'll pay $54 a month for cable internet and yet you nab the $4 per month hosting plan for your business because it is the cheapest. Hosting really doesn't cost all that much anymore these days but if you really want your website up time at maximum and a feature rich hosting plan with quality support then don't be skittish about paying a decent monthly price.
Most people pay four times more for dial-up then they are willing to pay for a decent hosting plan. A small business should really never be on one of these plans anyway as the cheap hosting plans typically share one server with up to 1,100 other web sites. This is called shared hosting and works just fine provided that your one thousand other server neighbors don't crash things with resource hungry scripts or host illegal content that gets you in trouble with the search engines. The latter is possible because search engines do a kind of guilt by association for websites sharing a server or an IP address.
These shared web hosting plans usually do use the term "small business hosting" and other terms that target the business owner but in my experience small businesses should look something like a virtual dedicated or fully dedicated server to make sure their needs are provided for. A dedicated server can usually be had for around $100 for an economy box. When you compare this to the overhead of a physical storefront is this really too much to pay for your business?
Another thing for business sites to consider is something like "the slashdot effect" killing your server. This is a term that is usually applied to instances where a piece of content on a site is listed on a major portal that is usually community based. The website then gets hammered with ongoing traffic from the portal. Many times this is almost enough to bring a dedicated server to it's knees. A shared hosting plan and even a virtual dedicated hosting plan could not survive in most cases.
If you're going to put your business online then do the research. If you need to go cheap then skip five espressos a month and at least pout your business on a server that will give you the performance you need.
Take it from me. It's all fun and games with cheap hosting until the mail server goes down and all of your clients are getting their messages bounced back at them. Very embarrassing.