Ecommerce: How to Choose an Ecommerce Web Host
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Because of the risks and the work involved in ecommerce, an ecommerce site has special needs. It's not as simple as personal web design and maintenance where you really don't have much to worry about. Ecommerce is business. Here is what you need to know to find the best ecommerce web host:
ECOMMERCE WEB HOST CHECKLIST
- SERVER HOSTING. Does the ecommerce web host provider offer Shared Hosting and Dedicated Hosting? At what rates? A dedicated server is like having an entire floor of a department store to yourself. It's for big business and gives faster access and bigger web space. (Or privacy? Bill Gates is said to have rented an entire hotel to ensure privacy during his wedding.) For smaller businesses, shared hosting would do.
- HOSTING PLANS. An ecommerce web host provider, in fact any provider, should have ecommerce solutions or packages ready. They'll be divided into usually 3-5 categories like: Individual/Personal, Small Business, Enterprise and so on. You'll know which ecommerce web host would best suit your needs. Ask about upgrade costs too. After all, you're hoping your business will grow!
- HARD DISK AND BANDWIDTH. The more, the better. These are indicated in the hosting packages anyway. Try to get web space of at least 300 MB for a small business.
- UPTIME GUARANTEE. Will your ecommerce web host provide 24 hour uptime or availability? This is absolutely necessary for your business. Of course they will all boast that they can give you this. But don't take their word for it. Ask others in a forum for feedback, and visit their subscribers' web sites.
- MULTIPLE E-MAIL AND SUB-DOMAINS. How many e-mail addresses do you get? Are sub-domains, that is, subdomain.domain.com available? For how much?
- ECOMMERCE TOOLS. What scripting languages does the ecommerce web host support? (PHP is better than ASP in our opinion!) Is there an autoresponder for your e-mail accounts?
- SSL AND ENCRYPTION. This is important. What security solutions does the web host offer? Can you secure your pages? Can you password-protect certain pages?
- PRICE. Of course?!
Also, don't overlook technical support. But most of all, visit their members' web sites. Test them. See if they are accessible and load quickly.
Finally, if you're really serious about ecommerce and you can afford it, you can be your own ecommerce web host provider. You'll have to do everything, but you'll also get to control everything. You will do all the hardware and software work. A web service provider will only help you connect your private server to theirs (and the Internet) and that's it. This is the most time-consuming of all and is best left only to real techies.
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