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Best Web Hosting Resources

What exactly is a web host? Basically, a web host is a company that rents out space on their web servers (special computers designed for viewing websites on the Internet) for a monthly or annual fee. Choosing a web host and purchasing web hosting services warrants a bit of time on your part to find the most reputable and stable services. After all, you want your websites to be available 24x7, you want them shown to your users with good speeds, and you when you need a real person for help, you want to be sure that someone is there for emergencies that you actually talk to or at least live chat with.

Web hosting providers are many, and they come, and they go, and are purchased by each other in a seemingly never-ending cycle. But at this point of Internet maturity, there are many reputable, well-established hosting providers. My goal in this section is not to tell you who I think are the best web hosts, but to point you to resources that will help you research and ultimately choose what web hosting company to entrust with the job of serving up your web pages to the world. What is most important to consider is to find sites (as listed below) that provide independent web hosting reviews (and you can even use that as a key phrase to search Google with too). You should hesitate to trust the opinions of websites that accept money from the website hosting companies they review.

There are many web hosting niches, depending on your technological requirements. You could be looking for:

Windows Web Hosting - MS SQL databases, ASP .net, Coldfusion
Dedicated Server Hosting - larger sites use greater resources
FrontPage Web Hosting - support for FrontPage extensions
E-Commerce Web Hosting - what shopping carts are supported?

And the list of what may be required goes on ...

When I need to investigate new hosting providers, these are the sites I turn to for inspiration:

1.) WebHostingTalk
A gigantic forums of everything web hosting. Actually, it can seem a bit daunting at first to figure out where to start, and if the web hosting terminologies are unfamiliar to you, you may feel overwhelmed. If so, the WebHostingTalk Wiki would be a good place to start your journey, and presents a very comprehensive guide to explain what all the different types of hosting are the the advantages and disadvantages of each. This can also help you determine whether you need a dedicated, managed or shared hosting plan. The recent redesign of the site also has enhanced usability and makes use of an efficient seach feature if you are researching feedback on a particular web host.

2.) TopHosts
TopHosts has been maintaining a top 10 web host ranking for over 10 years now, and is considered one of the premiere locations to begin a search especially for shared hosting resources. You'll find linked from the main page a number of articles that help explain the different types of website hosting options you could consider. Each is concise, accurate and to the point. There's also a pretty active forum on TopHosts as well so you can search the postings there or make one of your own to check on feedback from other users.

3.) WebHostMagazine
Again, another resource that's been independently reviewing web hosts since the mid 90's. You'll find a lot of pertinent information here, neatly categorized by the types of hosting you are looking for. Especially good if you already know what you are looking for. You'll get to the meat of the reviews very quickly. The reviews here are always comprehensive, frequently updated, with a nice ratings scale, and comments from site users are available for review and not edited. All in all, an excellent resource for a hosting search.

Designer's Tip: Search the net and some of the popular forums with webmasters (DigitalPoint, SitePoint, WebmasterTalk) for more info and feedback, and also for some useful coupons to help you save some extra money when you sign up.


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