Whether you’re a growing business planning on starting a website business or just a website programmer looking for a good hosting account, its a good idea to learn how web hosting works to ensure that your website launch goes smoothly.
There are many website hosting companies on the internet, and all of them offer a different list of services for different types of websites. Here are some of the common features that you’ll see on most web hosts and how to decipher them.
Website Space: Website space is the actual location of where your website files and images reside. Your HTML web pages and even your web programming pages will be stored at this location. Some web hosts offer 100MB and others offer up to 10,000MB or more.
If your company’s website only uses up five to seven pages then even 100mb might be too much space because almost all average web pages take up very little space.
If your website is content based and requires tons of images, text, articles, videos, then you should ensure that your host has more then 100mb of web space. Many times though web space will not be a major factor when searching for a web host. Most hosts will provide you with a lot web space for the average website.
Bandwidth / Traffic / Monthly Transfer: Bandwidth is how much information can be transferred from your website.
Think of it this way. If you have 1 web page which takes up 1mb and you’re monthly bandwidth limit is 100mb. This means that once 100 people visit your website, then your bandwidth limit will be maxed out. You will not have any bandwidth available until the next month. Most of the time though website hosts offer monthly bandwidth limits of 3,000 MB or 10,000 MB. Don’t worry about bandwidth because 99 percent of your web pages won’t take up 1mb.
Once you start generating thousands of visitors monthly and see your bandwidth increase then you may have to pay additional fee for that month for the extra bandwidth, and consider upgrading your hosting account. As with website space bandwidth should not be an issue when searching for a web host because most will provide you with adequate bandwidth for your website.
Website Programming Language: If you have features like Comments Form – to email comments directly from visitors to online email account, Newsletter Opt-in for your visitors or any other dynamic features then you need to have support for a web programming language. There are several web programming languages. To find out which one you need for your website ask your website development team and find out. They might already know which programming language they plan on using for your website. Common Web Programming languages include PHP, Net and CFML.
Web Programming language will be a big factor when searching for a web host because each firm will offer a different combination of support for web programming languages, so pick carefully.
Database: If your website needs to store visitor’s email address, name and other important information, or keep a catalog of all your products then you will need to use a database. Some of the most common databases that are widely used include Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and Access. Almost all hosting plans will provide support for at least one of these databases. As for web programming, you need to ask your website development team which database they plan to use.
Domain Hosting: Most of the time though a website hosting company will allow you to host one domain name such as a com, or net, but some website hosts support hosting for several website name. This is a great feature because this allows you to host multiple websites on one host, and manage everything from a convenient place. The downside is that you will have to share your website space, your bandwidth, and maybe even several other features with your other website. If you’re goal is to have more then one website then it’s a good idea to find out exactly how many domains your web host allows on your account.
Email: Email should not be an issue when searching for a web host. Many web hosting firms support some type of email account which allows you to have an email address with your website name: sales at yourwebsitename or something like that. Remember the amount of website space you use for your email may be limited to your overall website account, so if possible delete large and unwanted emails.
Customer Support: Support won’t be a factor until it becomes one. This is why its a good idea to speak with a hosting staff and see how they respond. Great customer service will become a very important factor, and usually up to your website firm that will be working with them.
So how do you decide which web host is right for you?
A good method is to first find out which of these website hosting is more important for you. If your website offers business training videos that takes up a lot of bandwidth then you should find a website host that can provide you a lot of bandwidth unless you’d rather wait until it turns into a bottleneck. Videos often take up hundreds if not thousand times more bandwidth then regular webpage and in this case your first priority during your search should be to ensure that your host includes adequate bandwidth. If you find a host that you like and if bandwidth does turn into an issue then make sure that the hosting firm allows the ability to upgrade your hosting services. Be prepared and make sure to find out the expenses for the upgraded plan.
Once you find a good host try hosting your website on a monthly basis instead of the long term discounted plans. Just like other companies, firms will offer lower price to motivate you to buy long term contracts. There’s nothing wrong with having a long term contract, but it’s not worth it if you decide you don’t like this host, or if you find a better host.
If you’re still not sure which host to sign up with then just ask you webmaster. They can recommend web hosts or offer to host your website with them. You will also see website hosts provide you with additional features such as ecommerce functionality, website statistics, easy to use control panel software such as Plesk, and other great features and software programs that can help you manage and create a great website.
If none of those plans sound right or if you plan on creating a gateway type website, with tons of content, images, videos, and if you want to be able to install your own custom software then there’s another option for you, a dedicated server. With a dedicated server you can install your own software, support for your own choice of programming languages, and as the title suggests it is dedicated for your website or websites depending on what you need. The cost is usually 8 to 10 times more then your average web host, but it allows you more control and provide you more ways to customize it. And if you plan on hosting dozens of websites then you should consider using a dedicated server.