Lots of people are looking for cheap hosting solutions. It is
also true that the price of hosting has decreased over the past few years. It is
now more affordable than ever to host your website. One should be careful
however, of opting for the very cheapest that you can find. Most often, these
providers do overselling. This basically works on almost the same principle as
airlines that do overbooking. Because airlines realize that about 10% to 15% of
people who book their tickets will actually never make it to the plane, the
allow overbooking of tickets of up to 10%.
The trouble comes when EVERYONE decides to pitch up and use their tickets. That is when you get long queues, grumbling passengers and air hostesses that seem to have smiles pasted onto their faces....
The problem is that hosting providers often sell large amounts of hard disk space and bandwidth for very cheaply, knowing full well that you will never use the space. The problem comes in when everyone starts unexpectedly using all their space and bandwidth allocated to them. Then everyone suffers.
But let's look at the principles of shared hosting - what it is and who it works for.
Shared hosting is the best solution for most small and medium websites. The most important advantage is cost. Shared hosting is much cheaper and affordable than hosting on dedicated servers.
Even though in theory you should just sign up for the features that you will really need and thereby avoid paying extra costs, the truth is that web hosting packages are really becoming more and more feature rich while becoming cheaper at the same time. You will therefore GET a lot of features whether you need them or not. This is not a bad thing since it does mean that you can easily upgrade your account or install new software when you find that you are requiring more functionality than when you started.
Shared hosting is also good for web hosting companies. It can host hundreds of small and medium websites on a single server. This reduces the installation and maintenance costs, and gives the hosting company a higher return on investment.
Because of the danger of overselling however, you should ensure that the company uses state-of-the art servers with high processing power. These servers should be connected to the Internet on high speed bandwidth lines so that there is no choking when the traffic spurts. Most of these companies do advertise the type of servers that they use. If they do not disclose their server specifications, it might be better to steer away from them. Ask a friend, family member or Internet expert for assistance in trying to understand which servers are good and which are not.
You should be able to upgrade easily between packages should the need arise to move to a larger server or more bandwidth.
The web host must also offer 24x7 toll-free technical support rendered by experienced and professionally trained technicians.
You especially need to check whether the hosting company owns servers or is reselling hosting solutions. The latter situation is not conducive for your needs because the web host is only a middleman and is not in control of the solutions that he is selling. You may find that the services provided are not in keeping with the promises made.
~Your exit strategy~
You must always have a backup plan in case your web host goes bankrupt. This should include maintaining a backup of all your data you post on the web site. You should not depend on the backups done by the hosting company themselves but should make sure that you run your own backups through the control panel (and you definitely SHOULD have a control panel!)
This is also why you should always register your domain name with an independent registrar and not with the hosting company itself, since if they do go bankrupt, you might not only lose your website content, but your complete domain.