Hosting is a service that allows individuals and organisations make their own website accessible via the World Wide Web. Hosting companies provide space on a server which they own or lease. Servers they do not own can be located in a data centre called a co-location. It is crucial that research is done to find the most reliable and suitable host for your site. An important step in selecting the right hosting provider for your online business is to first identify your hosting requirements such that you can effectively evaluate and compare the different options available.

It is important to scrutinise the level of customer care and support services that would be available when choosing a hosting provider. It is a good idea to find out when their support offices are closed, or do they have 24hr contact facilities. Carrying out a test by submitting a query and seeing what their response time is would be a very helpful exercise.  Make sure to select a provider that is fully focused on customer care.

Check to see what level of uptime the host provider has for the past six months or so and what’s the longest it has been down. It is evident that downtime results in lost revenues and productivity so it’s important that the provider is adamant about service levels.  

When choosing different packages offered the amount of storage required is often overlooked. The possibility of expansion in the future months/years is very possible. So make sure that the flexibility is there to move to a larger storage amount. Also when choosing a host there is the option of sharing a server or having your own dedicated one. When sharing is chosen your site is located on a server that also provides hosting for a number of other sites. This costs considerably less than a dedicated server. Most small online businesses use shared hosting but if they’re expanding, it is common to move a dedicated server. When businesses have specialised requirements this is the more suitable decision. When using a dedicated server you have full control over everything. You configure the server the way you want it. It is almost like the server is in your office and you are administering it remotely. 

The security of your server is very important. Check to see what type of facility the provider has and how is it secured to ensure only appropriate people have access to your site. Also question what type of firewall systems are used to keep intruders out of the network. It requires many layers of Internet security, from firewall barriers to password protection to defend your site from hackers. Make sure the hosting provider you choose has enough security measures in place to ensure that your data is completely protected. 

In conclusion when you find a provider that meets all your needs review their website for customer testimonials and references. Then contact their customers to see how superior their services are. If you follow all these guidelines you should have no problem sourcing a first class hosting provider.
Below are some Hosting related links.

Lets Host
Host Ireland
Hosting Ireland
Digi Web
Just Host
Host Gator
Generate Revenue
Top 20 Websites
Irish Success Stories
E Payments
Business 2010
Virtual Offices