internet home business ideas
 

Choosing a Web Host

Lesson #5 Choosing Your Web Host

When choosing a web host you have 3 choices available to you:

  1. Host your website on your own computer 
  2. Host your site on a dedicated server 
  3. Host your site using a web hosting company 

1. If you are choosing a web host for a small internet home business, the first and second options are not practical, those options are for larger, bigger businesses.

Hosting your website on your own computer requires speed, maintenance and expertise that the average business owner shouldn't have to deal with.

2. Hosting your website on a dedicated server is where you lease an entire server that is not shared with anyone. This is also not practical for the small internet business owner although as some websites grow and become more interactive they may choose to go with a dedicated server later on.

3. A much easier, cheaper and more practical option is to use a web hosting company. This is a company that will put your site on their servers using their connection and you will access the service remotely through FTP (file transfer protocol).

 

What to Look for When Choosing a Web Host

When shopping for a web hosting service ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there plenty of disk space that will sustain me without upgrading in the near future? 
  • Is it easy to use? 
  • Does it have Cpanel or have an easy to use interface? 
  • Does it come with tools and scripts? 
  • Does it have responsive and reliable customer support? 

Before you make a final decision always compare web hosting services but here are also some helpful tips for choosing a web host that fits your budget, provides the tools you need and is reliable:

• Free or Paid Web Hosting?

If you are putting up a personal website or just practicing, free hosting may work for you, but keep in mind that free web hosting will place ads on your site that you will have no control over.

A BIG frustration with free hosting is.

  • No customer support.  
  • There are also restrictions on using scripts.
  • They have smaller bandwidth.
  • Very limited disk space.
  • Servers can also be slow which means it will slow down the users on your site.
  • Email sent through free web hosting often get flagged as spam. That can hurt you if you are a business.

I currently use the hosting services of Hostgator and have for about 6 years now. As much as I love Hostgator and how affordable it is, pricing can be confusing as you'll find with most hosting sites.

Read this if you've been to Hostgator and are confused about pricing.

• Web hosting disk space considerations

Statistically, the average website is about 5mb in size, that can be a site with a little over 100 pages. A typical website will have text, graphics, sound, or video files that occupy disk space on a server.

• FTP access (file transfer protocol)

Free hosts, and the cheaper hosts, only allow you to design your website using their online builder.

However if you are using a website builder like Xsitepro, Frontpage, Dreamweaver, etc, you'll need FTP access so that you can create your web page and transfer it to your host.

• Bandwidth or Data Transfer

Your bandwidth size is the amount of traffic your website uses per day or per month. This means that if the pages on your site get beyond a certain amount of visitors, your website could be disabled.

The minimum bandwidth for an average business site starting out should be about 2-3 Gigabytes but again be sure you can upgrade when the time comes.

Having an adequate amount of bandwidth provides a safety net against comment spam and search engine crawlers that can consume bandwidth database, and other site resources when they come to your site.

Be sure your bandwidth is adequate or that you can upgrade if you need to.

 • Emails an Autoresponders

If you have your own website you will most likely want email addresses associated with it, i.e. webmaster@yoursite.com. Find out how many emails addresses you are allowed.

An Email autoresponder is a feature that allows you to automatically reply to an email with a specific address with a preset message. A good feature to look for. Not all web hosting companies offer it, however if an autoresponder is something you need, you'll have to pay for it separately.

• Reliability

A quality web hosting company will guarantee at least 99% up time for your website but you need to make sure that really happens by talking to people that use the host.

A guarantee of 99% up time doesn't mean much if they can't make good on the claim. They might refund your money but you still suffer a loss in site visitors, not to mention the logistics and the hassle of switching web hosts.

• Responsive & Helpful Customer Service

Is there customer service 24/7 and are they helpful? Be sure they offer an email address or other method for contacting their technical support staff should you need them.

Any company that claims they have good tech support but offers no way to get personalized help isn't worth your time, or money.

Here's my last experience with poor web hosting support, read my personal update here, it's why I had to switch web hosts.

• Site Statistics

Most web hosts offer some form of site statistics but in case they don't there are good alternatives like Google analytics.

Site statistics are important for analyzing how many visitors you get, where they are coming from, how they found your site and what keywords they are using to find you.

All useful information in helping you develop your site and drive traffic.

• What software does the web host provide?

Examples include message boards, FrontPage Extensions (more on that in the create a website section), shopping cart, web design service or templates, sub domains, mailing lists, databases, password protected pages, etc.
 
• Subdomains

Perhaps you may want to start another website, what will it cost to add a new site or a subdomain?

• Snap In Scripts

Be sure to find a host that has up to date scripts that makes installing other programs easier.

For example, if you want to install a blog or a forum on your website there are handy scripts that make installing these applications easier and faster.

• Look for the Fantastico Cpanel feature 

Cpanel simply means 'Control Panel'. The CPanel interface is ideal because it makes navigation of your web hosting service much easier. Most quality web hosts use the CPanel feature.

Continue to Lesson #6 How To Create a Website


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