Choosing the right hosting company is a very important step in putting up your website. The content of the website itself will be put to naught if it can't be accessed because of a lousy hosting company. Picking the best company that perfectly suits your needs saves you a lot of trouble in the future, while getting a bad one will prove to be a constant thorn as the months go by.
First, look at your budget. How much are you willing to spend on web site hosting? If you're short on cash, it doesn't matter if you want a top-of-the-line hosting service; you'll probably end up with free or cheap hosting. The following are the types of hosting services:
Check out free hosting. Yes, it will not cost you a cent to have your website hosted by these services. However, "free" comes at a price - the free hosting provider might add advertisements to your sites, and the URL (web address) will have the provider's name on it (e.g. http://examplefreehost.com/nameofyoursite). The long address might be fine for personal sites, but an absolute no-no for business and big organizations. Because you're not paying for hosting, the provider can shut down without due notice and offer very limited technical support.
Look into paid hosting. You can choose from several packages offered by the myriad of providers. The more expensive the hosting package is, the more features and support you can expect. Should you decide to purchase paid hosting, here are the next steps:
Choose the right package for your site. If you have a small website, don't waste your cash on the higher end of packages. The two main things you have to check are the hard disk space and bandwidth. If your site packs a lot of megabytes (or gigabytes) - possibly because of high-resolution pictures, sound files, and videos - go for packages that offer lots of space. If you expect a lot of people to visit your site and download your files, choose the package with high bandwidth. Other things to look for in a package: money back guarantee (e.g. the first 15 days), 24/7 customer support, control panel, email accounts, and website statistics.
Check what other people are saying about the hosting provider. Do a web search for the company's name. Skip the company's website and look for customer's posts in blogs and forums. What are they saying? Are they recommending the company or did it give them hell on the Net?
Ask the hosting company questions. Some of the stuff listed on the hosting packages might seem jargon for you, so you can shoot them an email and ask them. One thing you can inquire about is where their servers are located. If your site is stored and backed up in multiple data center locations across the land, that's a good thing - a hurricane or earthquake in one city can't erase your data. This is also a good way to gauge their customer support - if they can entertain you fast with open arms, chances are they'll cheerfully be there when you have a problem with your site.