No matter how good a website is, it's all a complete waste if the hosting isn't up to basic minimum standards. Before starting anything, it is absolutely essential to find the best web host to match the purpose and needs of the website. Here's a few tips that'll help narrow down the options.

Reviews: Good reviews are the life blood of this business. There are plenty of the best web host review sites, but it's easier to find reviews for a specific host directly through search. Do a search for ‘xyz hosting reviews' and read all the reviews. One review won't cover all the aspects, so take some time finding reviews and make sure that the host is reliable, and capable of providing the requisite level of service. Note: Be careful with what you see on review site as you may notice the same companies are the top 10 for every review site. This is because these companies pay the highest affiliate commissions. These review sites get their revenue from referring customers to the best web host. The problem with this is that the additional cost is actually paid for by the customers in that they are paying a lot more for a mostly lower quality service.

Awards: A better measurement of the quality of a web host although be careful with these as well. There are a lot of sites who perpetrate to award web hosting companies; they give the awards to the higher paying affiliate programs as well. A good resource is the Webhost Directory at they do not use the web hosting affiliate links and are not paid to give awards. The customers vote for each company and the results are tabulated by the system. They have the best system for granting awards compared to other sites but this is also not without trouble. Some of these same top 10 hosting companies pay people to place votes for their company, thereby ensuring they receive more votes than the other companies.

Price: Rates are subjective, since it depends on many factors. For instance, how much space and bandwidth does the website need? Is the project big enough to warrant a dedicated server, or will shared hosting be sufficient? How many domains, sub-domains and email accounts are required? Then there is the add-on pricing to be considered. Some hosts offer free domains, while most will ask site owners to buy a domain. Some hosts are eCommerce ready, and others offer free design tools. There are so many things a website might need, and it's better to figure out the needs, and then find a host that offers everything required under the base price.

Windows vs Linux: The server OS is an important choice that need to be made, because it's hard to switch once the site is operational. Some scripts such as WordPress don't run on Windows servers. On the other hand, Microsoft's ASP won't run on Linux web hosts. If all this doesn't make much sense, it's best to look it up now because it gets pretty hard later on if a website needs a blog and it's hosted on a Windows server. SEO: It's an open secret that search engines respond well to some web hosts while giving short shrift to others. It's not favoritism, just part science and part algorithm. Every host offers different page loading speeds, IP ranges and hosts specific types of web sites. This is why it's necessary to understand things like a Class-C IP address and what it means to have a website stuck in a bad neighborhood. It may seem like a lot of geek talk, but it does have a big impact on search traffic.

Features: Regardless of budget or needs, some things should always come by default with every package. The must-have features include a control panel (cPanel or Plesk), POP/POP3 email accounts with webmail access, FTP access, scripting support (PHP, CGI, MySQL database, etc) and web analytics with access to log files. The list of features every web host offers is huge, but the aforementioned things are the ones which are sometimes left out by a few hosts even though they're all necessary for most websites.

Source by Marv Dreyer