Personal, SOHO & Business Website Hosting.
What to look for when looking for a website host for your personal or small businesses site.
Before you buy Website Hosting; Some stuff to think about...
Size Does Matter
Your business may be small now, but you are going to be getting visitors from all across the country - indeed, the whole planet - so it's important that your host is large enough that they have good internet connectivity everywhere that your potential customers are.
You'll also want to take into account that there are hundreds of web hosting companies - and new companies are entering the market every month. Over the next couple years some won't survive and others will be swallowed up by bigger companies. While losing your hosting service won't be the end of your business, it would still be a major pain in the neck to find a new one in a hurry.
Also: smaller, newer companies will lack the experience that older, well established companies take for granted. Any hosting company that has been in business for a couple years has probably dealt with hackers, power failures, acts of God, bad software upgrades and a pile of other 'Murphy's Law Events' - and they have evolved procedures to deal with each of them in the shortest possible time.
So, Your hosting provider choices just got a lot smaller, didn't it? Unless you are willing to risk the future of your business and your livelihood to a small, untested hosting company.
Some Minimum Requirements to consider...
Starter Packages - In the beginning, a package offering 10GB/month Bandwidth and 5GB disk space may seem like it's plenty big enough, but it won't take your natural growth into account... and if you outgrow your host in a year or so it will just be too bad for you... So either start with much more than you will need, or make sure that they will let you change service plans without headaches.
So that brings us to:
Scaleability - Unless you are willing to buy a package with much more 'stuff' than you need now, you will need to be able to easily and inexpensively upgrade to more bandwidth and/or more disk space as your business needs change. Read the 'fine print' to make sure that there won't be any expensive surprises down the road.
Versatility - not all hosting companies support all the scripting & programming languages. You may not need to use PHP or CGI scripting, Apache handlers or Anonymous FTP service, but limiting yourself to a host that won't support all the possible features you may want to add later may not be the best decision.
Add-Ons and Features - Most hosts we looked at supported some sort of e-commerce solution, but make sure that the shopping cart service is versatile enough for all of your possible needs: now and in the foreseeable future. Likewise with your guestbook, message board, chat rooms, email server, etc.
Checklist - So, before you go shopping around, decide what you need now and try to forecast your future needs, and make yourself a checklist of the features and options you want from a webhost. You'll be a better informed consumer, and in a better position later as your online business grows.
Some details you'll want to look at when shopping for a website hosting provider...
What kind of Control panel do they give you?
How much Disk Usage (or Disk Space) is available?
What is the maximum Bandwidth Usage?
Do they provide POP3 Email Accounts - and how many?
Is email Forwarding supported?
Are email Auto-Responders allowed?
Can you employ Email Filters on your POP3 accounts?
How many 'MySQL' Databases do they allow?
Is the supported PHP version up to date?
Do they support Frontpage Extensions?
Do they supply a free Shopping Cart?
How often do they Backup the files on their servers?
Do they support Mime Types, Apache Handlers, ht_access, etc?
What kind of customer support do they provide?
Do they have a customer forum or FAQ database you can use for help & information?
Even if you are not planning on using (for instance) FTP access or PHP includes, if you change your mind in a year you should not have to pay extra for it.
Our Top Pick for the best website hosting...
this is the service we use, and recommend:
HostGator is a world leading provider of shared, reseller and dedicated web hosting with a full in-house support team of over 400 industry veterans.
The most popular plan is the Baby Croc plan, which comes with support for unlimited domains, Unlimited Disk Space and Bandwidth... plus Unlimited Sub Domains, FTP Accounts, and Email Accounts! We especially like the free scripts and the online web site building software they provide.
(Of course, the 'no setup fee' and the money-back guarantee helped too)
Build Your Site Online With the Easy to Use Site Studio Template System!!
A Few Good Reasons To Try HostGator:
* No Setup Fees & No Contracts
* Unlimited Disk Space
* Unlimited Bandwidth
* Unlimited Domains on 1 Plan
* Free SiteBuilder Tools
* Easy-To-Use Control Panel
* Easy 1-Click Script Installs
* 4,500 Free Website Templates
* Get $100 Google AdWords Credit
Transfer from another host and they
will even Help You Move!
Get Web Hosting With Quality 24/7 Support Via Phone, Live Chat, and Email!
Affiliate Disclosure: Yes, we like their service so much that we signed up as affiliates... I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that whenever you click the links on my site and purchase items, in many (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. Your support in purchasing through these links enables me to pay for this site and keep it going, plus (usually) a little more to help pay the bills. So - Thank you! :)
Linux vs. Microsoft Hosting
Linux or Microsoft…? ~ both can work for you!
The operating system that you use on your computer should not govern your choice of hosting platform. If, for example, your computer runs on Microsoft® Windows®, you are not obligated to choose Microsoft web hosting.
Which is best for you?
Both technologies are suitable for beginners, professional web developers, and everyone in between, but it is essential to choose the technology that is more suited to your style of web building. Each technology has its own distinct advantages for users.
Linux is widely considered to be the best operating system for web hosting servers. Characteristically reliable, stable and efficient, Linux has been proven in the most demanding web and mail server environments.
If you plan to incorporate work that uses PHP, Perl or MySQL, Linux is the solution you should choose. Linux is also ideal for the kind of websites that display information as a brochure, in newsletter format or as data sheets. Linux works well for 'brochure-ware' sites that offer interaction via inquiry forms, online purchasing and other e-commerce functions.
Essential programs such as Microsoft FrontPage® can also be successfully used with Linux technology. In fact, HostGator offers FrontPage Extensions with Linux hosting packages.
Microsoft should be your choice of platform if you plan on utilizing Active Server Pages or other Microsoft applications to design your web pages.
MS hosting also offers an advantage if you wish to incorporate searchable databases into your website. The Microsoft platform delivers reduced development time and better functionality for databases.
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Should I Use Paid Or Free Web Hosting?
When you are putting your site together you may start looking for good free hosting, and you may wonder if there is there a catch with the free hosting providers.
The truth is that nothing is totally free. Think about it: How do free hosting providers stay in business? They have costs just like the paid hosting providers: servers, bandwidth, server software, maintenance, salaries and so on...
How do they pay for all that without charging for hosting? The answer is advertising. They place ads on your site and usually have tracking software to determine if your visitors click on their ads and generate income or not.
If your web site does not turn out to be profitable for them, you could easily loose it. Those free hosting providers that do not place ads on your site may simply be stealing your traffic, or may just decide to close your site and show their own web page to take advantage of your residual traffic.
Some of the other negative things associated with free hosting are:
* PHP, CGI & Perl Scripts are usually disabled.
* Very limited disk space and limited bandwidth.
* Limited access to useful tools, site builders, eCommerce, etc. (things that paid providers offer for free)
* No email address associated with your domain name.
* They can change their terms of service without any warning.
* Very few of them offer much in the way of technical support.
* Few free web hosts offer a real control panel for users.
With a paid host you eliminate all these inconveniences for a very small monthly fee.
If all you want is a simple page of information for your friends or family, then free hosting is probably fine for you.
However, if you plan to have a serious site, especially for a small business, then you will eventually want (or need) web tools like PHP, CGI, eCommerce support, adequate bandwidth and other such things. If that is the case, then we recommend choosing a paid hosting service like the recommended reputable company listed above.
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