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Web Hosting

There is a old saying "You pay's your money and takes your choice." there is no other area where this applies more than finding a suitable host for your website.

There are quite a few things to consider when deciding to host a web-site I list them here in no particular order.

Data Storage

How much space does your website take up on your hard disk? If you have a copy in on your local hard right click the folder to see how many Kilobytes (KB) , Megabytes (MB) or Gigabites (GB) of data there is. It is surprising how little space simple HTML pages take up and how much high quality images and MP3 (music) files take.

Do you intend to expand your website or add a picture gallery? Take that into account when you work out how storage you will require.

Band Width

This is a measure of how much data your visitors download from your website. It is usually measured in GB/month or TB(Terabytes)/month.

It is dependant on the size of your site and how much traffic you get. For instance if your site is 1MB and you expect 1000 visitors a month you would need 1GB of bandwidth. Always allow a bit extra for your emails and the search engine bots especially if you have database driven pages.

Reliability

This is measured in percentage uptime. So a host that offers 99% uptime could be offline for 7 hours a month. Normally routine maintenance is done in the early hours of the morning (local time) If your site is located in a different continent their "early hours" could be your prime time. How much will that cost your business? Do they offer compensation for downtime over and above their stated percantage?

Service

If you are just using simple HTML webpages you may not require a great deal from the host's service department, but when you do what level of service do they offer?. If you are new to PHP or running specialised scripts you may require a greater level. Do they offer email support, telephone support or instant messenger support. And how much does each call/ service request cost? What is their advertised response time?

Cost

As I said "You pay's your money and takes your choice.". Is cost more important than any other consideration. Are you running a "hobby site" where reliability and service are less important than cost or is the website a critical factor in you business.

It pay's to shop around there difference in cost between two different hosts offering the same or similar packages is astounding.

Many companies offer a discount for an annual fee paid in advance.

Software

If you intend to run PHP scripts it goes without saying you will need a PHP enabled site. Check how many MySql databases they allow you to use and if there is an additional cost. Check if they use a standard cpanel or do they use they have their owncontrol panel and is it easy to use? If you are new to PHP you may require easy ti install scripts like fantastico.

If you get into web development you may need to request additional PHP modules over and above the standard package, will you host set these up for you and is ter an additional costs.

Multiple Websites

If you are running multiple websites does your host allow you to add on more domains? It may be more economical to buy a reseller acount.

Flexibility

How easy is it to change plans especially if you have paid in advance? Can you get additional bandwidth to meet seasonal demands? Do you have to sign a contract for a specified period of time. With the majority of hosts they require monthly payments and your contract is on a month by month basis.

Location

As a rule of thumb the costing of hosting in the United States is cheaper than a similar service in the UK. There have been suggestion lately that search engines downgrade .co.uk sites hosted in the states.

Email

How many email addresses does the host allow for an account. How many does your company need? Do they offer webmail, POP3 or Imap or all three?

Conclusion

I think getting webhosting is a bit like buying a car. Do you want the speed of a Porsche the luxury of a Rolls Royce or are you content just to get from A to B in a ford Fiesta? -- "You pay's your money and takes your choice."