These best practices apply no matter whether you keep your current account, upgrade your shared account, or move to a VPS or Dedicated Server. (Many of these were gleaned from readings on webhostingtalk.com and lowendbox.com.)

Pay Monthly

It can be very attractive to pay annually or even prepay several years in advance because hosting companies often provide deep discounts or “freebies” such as a free domain registration. This can be a mistake for a number of reasons:

  1. You may be happy with your host now, but service or performance may deteriorate over time
  2. The company may go bankrupt taking your prepaid money with it.
  3. The company may be bought out, and you may not like the new management.

Make your own automated backups

Many web hosts make tout their automated back ups, but relying solely on them is not a good idea unless you like Russian Roulette. See points 2 and 3 above.

Use a host that allows shell access

Even if you use a shared account, you should still choose a host that allows shell access. This greatly facilitates making your own automated back ups.

Do not register your domain with your webhost…even if they offer free registration

It is slightly less convenient, but it tremendously adds to your mobility. If you leave web hosts, but your host registered your domain, it adds another barrier to leaving. If there is a dispute with your host, or if your host goes out of business, you still have access to your domain name, and since you made your own back ups it’s fairly easy to get back up and running without losing too much in time or content.

I’ll go over the steps in how to do this in the next installment.

Consider an alternative DNS host (nameservers)

Some web hosts, such as Lunar Pages, make it very difficult to customize your DNS records. Managing your own is slightly more complicated, but it is vastly more flexible.

I’ll go over how to do this in the next installment.

In future installments, I’ll talk about:

  • Steps to take in preparing to change webhosts
  • Considering Google Apps
  • Setting up a Linux VPS
  • Making the move

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