A website of your own is no longer a pipe dream. If you have even a modest budget there is an excellent range of low-cost hosting options available, some with free website building facilities. The advent of free hosting providers even means that a quite passable site can be within the grasp of almost anyone with an internet connection.

First of all, however, you must decide where and how the site will be hosted. The key to deciding what you need in a hosting provider is to understand the nature of the website you are planning to put on the Internet.

For instance, if you are posting just a few personal web pages that hardly anybody will access, a very basic, perhaps free hosting service may be just the thing for you.

But before you dive in to either free or paid hosting, here are some tips that will help you avoid time wasting or costly mistakes.

1. Uptime
Simply put, uptime is time that your site is available for Internet users to access it, browse through its pages, and place orders. For you, uptime means time that you can receive orders and make money.

Uptime is generally measured as a percentage – the percentage of time a website is up and available to Internet visitors. In industry terms, the more ‘9s’ a hosting provider achieves in uptime performance, the better.

2. Security
If your website will sell goods or services then you will need to collects credit card payments and personally identifiable details from customers. In this case security is of utmost importance. In fact, your customers must feel confident that your site is secure, or you will not receive their business. Security is also linked directly to uptime.

3. Redundancy
In addition to security and standards compliance, a good hosting provider will provide adequate redundancy. In simple terms, this means means having more than one of something – multiple servers, multiple firewalls, multiple databases and storage units, etc. In other words a hosting provider with redundant servers, for example, can ensure more uptime because if one server goes down, another can takes over and do the work of the first without losing website performance.

4. Facility Maintenance and 24/7 Monitoring
To protect against disaster and other threats, a good hosting provider will maintains a locked, temperature-controlled data center equipped with fire protection and an alternate power source. The facility should be monitored on a 24/7 basis, as should performance details such as server uptime, load, traffic, etc. Monitoring should include an established intrusion detection system to guard against security breach.

5. Technical Support
The amount of technical support you receive from your hosting provider is often contingent on the amount you are willing to pay in monthly hosting rates. Some low-cost providers offer no technical support at all, while others in the low-to-mid-cost range offer email or online chat support. Some of the best hosting providers offer phone support (sometimes toll-free, but not always) in addition to online support methods.

When browsing the Internet in search of a suitable provider, or turning the pages of a computer magazine, check what they have to say about these five areas of their service and keep these tips in mind before making a decision.

I wish you success!