Your new website will reside on someone else’s servers; another company will “host” your website. This is your web hosting company. New home-based businesses setting up a website for the first time should look for web hosting that is simple and easy to use and can expand as the business grows. In order to make a wise decision about your hosting company, there are some basic terms and site requirements that you should know. These are explained below.
No Free Lunch
Web hosting companies, like every other type of business, have to cover their expenses and make a profit. Consequently, when you see the word “free” attached to a web hosting ad, understand that there is no such thing as “free”; someone is going to pay for it. Hosting companies that offer you free space for your website are gong to sell space on your site to other companies, or require you to place banner ads or Google adsense ads on your site. Free web hosts who do not require you to place ads on your site are not necessarily good news, either. Such sites are usually new and trying to build a client base, so they offer “free” services and then can’t pay their bills. Such companies go out of business at an alarming rate.
Paid Hosting Services
I can tell you from experience that there is no relationship at all between what a company charges for their service and the quality of service they provide. Paying a high price for web hosting does not guarantee good service, and paying $5/month does not guarantee lousy service. Before you pay for hosting services, do an internet search for the company under consideration and look for complaints. In the Google search bar, type complaints: (your hosting company). Read the posts; they will be enlightening. Be aware, however, that most web hosting companies will have complaints of some sort, because the are so many non-technical people trying to build websites. Ultimately, you will want to settle for a company that has good customer support, a reasonable price, a good sitebuilder, and supports the type of files you want to have on your site.
Be Wary Of Resellers
Not all web hosting companies own their own web servers; some of them simply re-sell hosting services for a larger company. GoDaddy, a large hosting company, has a small army of resellers on the web. Many resellers don’t know the first thing about the product they are reselling, so if you need technical support they will forward your request to the actual hosting company. This is not always the case, though; some resellers are technically savvy and excel at customer service. Just be careful and investigate a reseller thoroughly before signing up for their service.
How Much Space Do You Really Need?
Less than you might think. Most sites use less than 5MB of web space. The variables are how many pictures your pages use, whether you need sound files, video clips, or other large files. When choosing a web hosting company, determine if they impose a maximum size on your files. Also, determine what kind of files they allow; some hosting companies do not allow certain kinds of files. The most up-to-date hosting companies now support FTP, PHP, Perl, SSI, .htaccess, telnet, SSH, MySQL, and crontabs. If you are paying a premium price for hosting, make sure you have all of these. Also, if you will be selling products via your site, you will need a shopping cart; if you will be keeping a customer list you should have an autoresponder and email accounts.
Another consideration is bandwidth allotment, which is more a function of how much traffic you expect to get rather that the size of you files. Make sure that you can increase your bandwidth allotment if your site starts to pull down a lot of traffic (you should be so lucky).
Originally posted 2011-03-09 09:57:00.