Choosing A Web Hosting Provider
There are several features that you should consider before purchasing the cheapest package you can find. Not all web hosting providers offer the same services for comparable prices. You need to carefully scan each offer and look for the features that you require to host your website.
1. Disk Space
Disk space, or web space, is the term used to describe the amount of information that you can store via your web hosting account. Whether you’ll be using HTML, images, sound or video files, they all take up disk space from your web hosting account.
Now-a-days, even the cheapest shared web hosting packages offer plenty of disk space to host your site. Do not settle for less than 1 gigabyte of disk space even if you don’t need it. Most web hosting providers offer their clients hundreds of gigabytes at incredibly cheap monthly fees.
2. Monthly Transfer Volume
The monthly transfer volume, also known as bandwidth, is a term used to describe the amount of information that your particular web hosting account can receive and send during the month.
Most web hosting accounts will give you many Gigabytes of bandwidth per month. The more traffic your website receives, the higher your bandwidth will be. Keep an eye on this traffic. If it gets close to your monthly limit, consider moving to a higher web package that offers a higher monthly bandwidth.
Web hosting providers that offer a high starting bandwidth means that you’ll be able to stay in that plan longer which is a benefit to you. Most good web hosting providers will offer bandwidth in the range of 250 Gigabytes to over 1 Terabyte of monthly traffic.
3. Linux vs. Windows Hosting
Most beginner web hosting packages will offer Linux based web hosting simply because it’s often cheaper for them to run. However, Linux is an extremely fast and reliable operating system. Most Linux systems run the Apache web server which accounts for over 50% of the Internet’s web hosts. It does not matter that you are creating your web pages on a Windows PC. They can be hosted on a Linux server without any problems.
Window web hosting is ideal for those requiring Active Server Pages (ASP) functionality or need better integration with Microsoft SQL server.
Linux plans normally tend to be slightly cheaper, which is why you’ll see more of them around. This is probably your best option unless you have specific requirements that only a Microsoft server can meet.
4. Web Databases
Whether it’s a MySQL or Microsoft SQL database that you need, make sure that the web hosting plan you purchase has access to some. Even if you don’t need it initially, you may need it in the future and most beginner hosting plans offer at least access to one database in their packages. Plan ahead and save yourself headaches later on as you expand your website.
These databases have a wide variety of uses. From storing proprietary information for your company to forming the back-end storage for blog add-ons such as WordPress or Joomla, you will need to have access to a database to make these features work.
5. e-Mail Space and POP3 / IMAP Access
If you want a professional appeal for your site, an e-mail account with your business name is vital. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem since most web hosting packages now give you access to POP3 and IMAP accounts to setup for your business use. Just make sure there are enough accounts for each employee who needs access to e-mail on your business site and that there is enough web e-mail space for all those combined users. E-Mail space is usually quoted as a separate listing from web space. Pay close attention to what the web hosting provider gives you since this space is divided up between all allocated e-mail users.
6. Free Website Plug-In Scripts
These are scripts that are available for you to automatically install as needed. Most web hosting companies use the Fantastico Deluxe set of scripts. Some of the scripts included are: WordPress, Joomla, PHP Nuke, Help Center scripts, Polls and Survey software, Guestbooks, and Form-mail scripts to name a few.
The automation allows for very simple integration with your website. Many of these products are very powerful and robust packages, so this is an excellent add-on to have available.
7. Secure Shell (SSH) Access
Being able to log into your web hosting account and make changes from the command line to your web pages is an incredibly convenient feature. However, power users will benefit the most from this option since some knowledge of the underlying operating system, Linux, is required to navigate easily.
Not all web hosting providers offer this service, so if you feel you may need it, make sure to find out ahead of time whether or not it’s available. Some offer it free as part of the package, others have it listed as a paid add-on.