Choosing a web host is never easy. There are just so many unknowns when it comes to finding a host. It's hardly ever possible to walk into a web host's office, look around, meet the owners, and get a feel for whether or not you'd like to do business with these people.

It's important, though, that you bend over backwards to establish whether your prospective web host is a credible provider – or a fly by night artist.

The webmaster industry is awash with horror stories about signing up with a web hosting company, onlty to find out later that this ‘business' is run by a 14 year old who lives at home.

you can make your decision using whatever information you find online about the web host.

Start out with the website of the web host you are considering.

Is it professionally designed and written? Typo's and spelling errors may signal that this is a company ran by kids or amateurs.

Is the website easy to use? Is it designed with a view towards helping people? Are help materials available online? This should give you a flavor for whether the company is client oriented.

Where is the company located? Is there an address? Can you email them?

Look at the Terms of Service. Does your prospective web host clearly spell out what may be expected of them and what is expected of you? Every deal is different, but both parties should clearly know what the deal is.

Next, do a search for the company on Google. Are you finding any negative statements? Try different searching techniques, like typing the company name followed by the word “scam”, or by the words “poor support”.

Now, try emailing their customer support department. Do you get a fast reply? What about their sales department? Do they answer inquiries quickly? Let's face it…if they won't pay any attention to you when they're trying to get your business, how much more will you be neglected after you sign up?

If you follow these simple suggestions, your chances of signing up with an excellent web host increase substantially

Visit one of the many forums about web hosting, ask the members for advice or search threads from those that have asked before you. Once you’ve located a few hosts to research, the ten questions below will take you a long way towards making an informed decision. You may be able to find many of the answers to these questions on the hosts’ web sites, but always feel free to call the host and quiz them about their operations. The quality of the answers and degree of professionalism you get from a potential host often transfers to the type of support you’ll receive once you become a customer. Without further ado, the ten question to ask your web host:

1. How long has the web host been in business?

2. Does the web host own its data center?

3. How many upstream Internet providers does the web host have?

4. Does the web host monitor its customers’ sites twenty-four hours per day? How?

5. Does the web host provide 24/7/365 phone and email support?

6. What levels of redundancy does the web host’s architecture provide?

7. Does the web host automatically backup customer web sites in case of data loss? How often?

8. What is the web host’s billing policy?

9. Does the web host provide the features that you need for your web site?

10. Does the web host have the products and services to handle your growth?