do I find reputable ecommerce web hosting?
By Rick Gelson
Consumers can find an excellent shared ecommerce
web hosting provider by using ecommerce
web hosting directories or by directly soliciting
hosts for comments on their service packages.
Using hosting directories is a highly recommended strategy,
because such sites aggregate a tremendous amount of
information about the ecommerce web hosting
industry and its participants. By leveraging
a host directory, regular consumers can contrast and
compare the different features of several ecommerce
web hosting firms.
The most credible hosting directories have catalogues
that allow you to search for hosts that match specified
criteria, whether it is based on cost, technology or
geography. Most of the more sophisticated hosting directories
also include an "advanced search" option that
allows consumers to fine tune their ecommerce
web hosting requirements.
Users of these resources must be cautious and exercise
due diligence however. Some ecommerce web hosting
directories only allow paid advertisers in their catalogues,
making the directory non-meritorious in composition.
Consumers should be aware of how the list is compiled,
updated and what criteria are used to add companies
- especially if the site offers a top ten or twenty
Many ecommerce web hosting companies
only conceive of hosting directories as marketing channels.
For this reason, some disreputable ecommerce
web hosting companies and executives have developed,
purchased or even influenced certain hosting directories
to boost their own revenues.
Too often, a directory will actually sell the most popular
listings to various hosts who are willing to pay top-dollar
for an award or recognition. Consumers should thus make
no correlation between an award and quality.
Kudos, awards and recognition are indicators that a
host has financial resources to advertising online,
but does not indicate whether the host offers credible
and reliable service.
Not all awards and recognition are purchased advertisements,
however. When recognition is not purchased, you only
need to inquire how the host was specifically selected
for an award. This can usually be determined from an
evaluation formula that is posted on the Web site.
Consumers should also note that many hosting directories
not only offer a large list of hosts, but also detailed
information about the host's features, price ranges
and provide consumers with the ability to compare hosts
again each other.
More sophisticated hosting directories will also include
in-depth articles, message forums, evaluation tools
and even promotional campaigns that will save you money
with the most credible hosting firms. These features
are also important because they allow consumers to obtain
more in-depth and personalized information about a hosting
Other resources that consumers may want to consult are
online bulletin boards. Specialized bulletin boards
contain and solicit postings from consumers who provide
their opinion and experiences concerning their experiences
with a hosting company. These resources provide users
with a candid understanding of the inter-workings of
Savvy consumers should also consider searching for online
comments concerning a specific host that they are seriously
contemplating. Finding comments from dissatisfied consumers
is as important as finding complements about the company.
Consumers can find comments by conducting a search,
using the candidate hosting company's name, in a search
Another strategy that should be employed is direct correspondence.
The concerned consumer should actually send potential
hosting companies pre-sales e-mail to determine what
features are available. Sending a pre-sales e-mail will
also give the consumer an indication of how quickly
the host responds to general inquiries. A credible
Web host will respond in less than 24 hours. However,
consumers must be aware that most hosting outfits will
always respond to sales inquiries faster than technical
When composing a pre-sales e-mail, consumers should
ask the following questions (consider simply copying
this following list and sending it to a candidate Web
• Is there a discount if I pre-pay for a number
of months in advance?
• What payment methods are available?
• How many months in advance am I required to
• Is there a set-up fee?
• Is there a trial period or money-back guarantee?
• What is your bandwidth, transfer or hit limit?
• May I visit other sites hosted by you?
• Will I have my own IP number or is it shared?
• Do you offer an unlimited, 24/7 technical support
• How much space is available with your package?
• What is the OS and version of the server my
site will be placed on?
• What are the hardware specs of the server?
• How many sites are currently running on the
• How many more sites do you think you will put
on it before it is full?
• How do you decide what constitutes a full server?
• Is there any way for us to set up a mailing
list for announcements?
• Will I have 24-hour FTP and telnet access?
• Will I have anonymous FTP?
• Will I have an automated control panel to access
• Do you provide a full, free CGI directory?
• Can I run CGI scripts outside of the CGI directory?
• Is there a limit to how many scripts I can install?
• Do you provide full shell access?
• Can I debug a problematic CGI script on the
• What version of Perl do you use? Does it contain
a full set of modules?
• Do you offer a Web statistics package?
• Will I also have access to the raw statistical
• Does the space used by my logs count against
my allotted disk space?
• What is your acceptable usage policy?
• How long have you been in business?
By employing a strategy of due diligence through the
combined use of credible, hosting directories and direct
correspondence with hosting firms, smart consumers can
find an excellent shared hosting provider.
the Author: Rick Gelson is an internet ecommerce
consultant working at vavio.com
,a web design company.