A web host, quite simply, allows you to rent space on a web server. Your web pages are then stored on this server, and the host computer allows other people connected to the Internet to view them.
There are literally hundreds of web hosting companies to choose from. How to choose the right one?
As with trying out any new service, you won't really know how good a web hosting company is until you try it. Therefore, ask around and see whether you can get any recommendations from those who already use a web hosting company. You might also want to consider how long the company has been in business, how reliable it is known to be, and how expensive it would be if you want to upgrade your plan in future.
Other areas to consider include:
How much disk space do you need? Does you website have less than 10 pages? You'll need only a small amount of space. Is it a huge site that has thousands of pages? You'll be needing a lot of disk space. Most web hosting plans limit how much space you will have, so make sure the plan you choose meets your needs.
How many e-mail accounts do you need? You'll probably need one for each employee and one for each department (sales, accounts, support). Make sure you purchase a hosting plan that has enough e-mail accounts. Also, do you want full POPS access, Web-based e- mail, or both?
How much data do you need to transfer? Most hosting plans limit how much data transfer you are allotted each month. If you expect a lot of people to visit your site, you'll need a plan that allows for plenty of data transfer.
Will you be selling goods or services through your site? If not, there's no need to sign up for an e-commerce web hosting service. If you are, e-commerce web hosting services such as shopping cart software, SSL support and a merchant account will be vital.
Database, script and extension support
Some hosts will try to blind you with all the features they provide: Frontpage, MS Access, MySQL, MS SQL, Peri support, PHP support, ASP support and SSI support. Do you really need all these features? If not, make sure you are not paying for extras you'll never use.
Do you want a UNIX hosting plan or a Windows hosting plan? Unix is the most commonly used operating system among Web servers. It is known for its flexibility, reliability and stability. Windows hosting plans give you the ability to utilize many forms of dynamic content and specialized databases. Windows hosting plans are often used for sites utilizing Frontpage, ASP, MS Access databases, MS SQL Servers and other Microsoft applications.
Is customer and technical support available 24/7? Can you easily get through on the customer support hotline? Or are you on hold for hours?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh has been involved in web development since 1996. He now helps business owners get their own websites up and running with a free easy-to-understand guide, and 7-part e-course at http://www.1st-For-Businsess-Web-Hosting.com.