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What To Look For In A Web Host?
So, you've registered your own domain name and now
it's time to pick a web hosting service.
But where do you start? If you check the listings
and ads, you'll see services with monthly fees ranging from $3.95
to $395. Some hosting companies even offer to host your site for
free, but you'll have to let them slap ads on your page.
Most hosting companies provide a range of
services, starting with low-budget packages and moving up to more
advanced, expensive features. Obviously, when you pick a hosting
plan, you need to make sure it provides enough disk space for your
site at a price within your budget. But what else should you watch
for? At the very least, consider the following points.
Most hosting plans limit how much data you can
transfer to and from the servers in a month. It's also called
bandwidth. Once you reach 1GB or 2GB of data transfer, most
companies charge you by the megabyte for any additional traffic.
How many bandwidth, or monthly transfer, do you need? That depends. Even
fairly busy sites that average more than a hundred visitors a day
transfer less than 1GB a month. However, if you provide a
three-minute MP3 file or a short video clip for visitors to
download, your site will soon break the bandwidth barrier.
If you have some idea of your anticipated traffic,
pick a plan accordingly. If not, estimate and watch your usage
carefully for the first few months. Read
this article for more information on calculating
For small information sites, 50MB storage
space with 3GB bandwidth should be ok. If your site applies
multimedia technologies such as video, audio, mp3, flash, you have
to plan something much bigger.
Or, if you find a host like
this offering 500MB disk space, 30GB bandwidth at such a low
price, just go for it ;-)
Note: there's no such thing as "unlimited"
bandwidth. If someone claims to offer "unlimited"
bandwidth or transfer, he's simply lying. Be careful.
Script And Extra
If your web site uses or will soon use SQL
databases, CGI scripts, FrontPage extensions,
SSI (Server Side Includes), ASP (Active Server Pages)... you'll need a hosting plan
that supports these extras. These sorts of higher-end development
tools may or may not come standard.
At the very least, make sure you have your own cgi-bin
and SSI capabilities. Even if you hate technical stuff, you will
Some hosting companies offer you more extra
features such as mailing list management programs, autoresponders,
search engine submission, sub domains, which will be very handy
when you need it.
File Transfer Options
You'll need to upload your site from your local
machine to the server it lives on, look for a host that allows
unlimited FTP uploads to get your site online. If you prefer using
FrontPage or a web interface for uploading files, make sure your
service provider supports it.
You may want people to be able to download files
directly from your site. Make sure you are allowed to do that and
check what file formats are allowed.
If you intend to broadcast streaming media from
your site, say Realplayer
videos, make sure that your hosting plan will allow for
hosting companies charge a small extra fee for streaming media
while some don't support it at all.
How much email accounts will you need for your
domain? Estimate the number of mailboxes you want. You might pick
one for each employee, if you have any. If you are running a one
man show like me, you should add some for functions such as sales,
info, support, feedback, besides the most important one,
Another must-have is catch-all capability so that
you won't miss any email sent to your domain. Also, look into
forwarding options so that you can relay messages to an
Take into account how you want to receive the
emails. For example, if you want to be able to use your favorite
email software, such as Microsoft Outlook, you'll want POP3
access. However, look into web based email if you want to be able
to check your messages from any computer when you're not in
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Article by Zac Hewlett at
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