The best solution for most small and medium websites is to opt for shared hosting. This has several advantages. The most important advantage is cost. Shared hosting is much cheaper and affordable as compared to hosting on dedicated servers.
You can purchase a web hosting package that matches your business needs. There is no need to sign-up for an all-inclusive account if you are not going to use most of the services.
Shared hosting is also a boon for the web hosting company. It can host hundreds of small and medium websites on a single server. This reduces the installation and maintenance costs, and gives the hosting company a higher return on investment.
However, before opting for hosting on a shared server you should ensure that the company uses state-of-the art servers with high processing power. These servers should be connected to the Internet on high speed bandwidth lines so that there is no choking when the traffic spurts.
The hosting solution should be scalable, and should be able to accommodate your needs as your site grows. The web host must also offer 24×7 toll-free technical support rendered by experienced and professionally trained technicians.
Before signing up with a hosting firm, ask for references. You need to consult other webmasters who are running sites on the same server. It is a good idea to browse these websites and find the response time during peak and non-peak hours.
You especially need to check whether the hosting company owns servers or is reselling hosting solutions. The latter situation is not conducive for your needs because the web host is only a middleman and is not in control of the solutions that he is selling. You may find that the services provided are not in keeping with the promises made.
You must always have a backup plan in case your web host goes bankrupt. This should include maintaining a backup of all your data you post on the web site. You should also have administrative control over the domain name right from day one; your host should be listed only as a technical contact.
You should also check the nature of other sites hosted on the server. Avoid those web hosts who host adult sites. Such shared hosting has two disadvantages. The first is adult sites generally attract high traffic and invariably corner a large part of the bandwidth. The second is they come to share their IP address with your site. This may cause you problems if some search engine decides to blacklist all sites hosted on that IP address.