How much disk space do you need? One of the criteria that usually separate one web hosting plan from another is the amount of space you get on the server for your website files. This is similar to the space on your computer’s hard drive and is calculated the same way – in gigabytes, megabytes, and kilobytes. You can calculate the amount of space you need by adding up the size of all the website files. Do not forget to include all the graphics and images.
Also, look into how much bandwidth web hosting company can give you. Bandwidth is calculated by the size of each file a visitor to you website sees multiplied by how many times a visitor sees it. For example, if your home page file is 11K (kilobytes) and it has two 7K images on it, that will add up to 25K of material transferred every time someone looks at your home page. So, if you have 700 visitors in a month who look at your home page, that will be 17,500K transferred, or about 17M (megabytes). This will be calculated for every page visitor looks at, as well as any video, audio, or other files they download onto their computer.
Most web hosting companies set a limit on the bandwidth that you can use per month. But make sure that this is the case when comparing plans. Remember, one gigabyte equals 1024 megabytes and one megabyte equals 1024 kilobytes.
You may also look into the e-mail options that you can get from your web hosting. Some things to look for are the number of e-mail addresses you can have, mailbox storage size, POP3 / SMTP service (you can send and receive e-mail from your account), if you can have e-mail aliases or forwarding (an address that sends all messages to another address’s mailbox), online e-mail access, and spam filtering.
Also consider your company’s current and future needs when evaluating your web hosting plan. One of these areas is in making changes to your website yourself.
Depending on the level of website expertise in your company, you may want to handle updating your website in-house, or you may want someone else to do it. There are many website hosting companies that offer website maintenance as part of their package and you may find this an attractive option. But, be aware of how quickly will the web hosting company make your changes, and, will they allow you or a third party (that you hire) to make changes, or do all changes have to go through them.
Look for the term “FTP” access which means that you have access to the user name and password that will allow you or someone that you authorize to add new pages or change files on your website without going through a middleman.
Also find out what special scripts or functions will your website use. Depending on the purpose and functions of your website, and who designs it, you may need your web hosting company to support any of the following: databases (such as Microsoft Access, SQL, or MySQL), Flash/Shockwave, multimedia, e-commerce, and various scripting languages (such as ASP, PHP, and ColdFusion, all of which come in various versions, cgi, and perl).
If you are considering moving your current website to a new web hosting company, talk to the website designer / developer to see which of these, if any, apply to your website. And if you are planning to have a website created, choose your designer / developer first and then ask him or her assist to you in determining which scripts or functions the website will be using and your web hosting plan.
You may also consider tracking and analyzing your visitor traffic. Some web hosting companies include a traffic statistics program in all of their hosting plans. Others web hosting offer it as an add-on service while some do not bother with it at all. If you want to have any clue about whether your website is making a positive difference for your company, you will need to have access to good traffic statistics.
Personally, this writer favors the program “Urchin” which is offered by several web hosting companies. It is easy to use and allows you to look at a variety of data in various time ranges. You can also export data to Microsoft Excel or Word or a text file.
On the availability of customer support options, most web hosting companies will offer free support by e-mail, but you may also want to be able to talk to them by phone. See if they charge for that. Some also offer “live chat” over the internet at certain times, which may or may not be helpful, depending on how many customers are trying to use it at once.
On what other people say about these web hosting companies, check out third party reviews at sites like CK Web Systems, Inc. Focus on the customer’s experience on using the hosting service. If there is good customer support, find out their experience regarding “downtime” – times when the web hosting company’s server is not working and no one is able to visit your website. This must be close to non-existent.
Avoid free web hosting as this is usually not a good deal. They are likely to display advertisements on your website that you have no control over, there is little to no customer
support, and they may close up shop without warning. Quality website hosting is available now for a very low price from many companies so being careless in this area will only hurt you,so choose wisely your web hosting company.
You will also want to carefully read a web hosting company’s terms of service before signing up with them. Some have restrictions on what material you can put on your site or what kind of e-mail you can send (such as ads that might be regarded as spam). If there are restrictions, make sure you can live with them. If not, find a different web hosting company.
Do not choose a web hosting company based on price. Price surely can affect your decision but if there are two hosting plans that are equal in all ways except the cost, go with the cheaper one. Your main criteria shall be the rest of the items discussed in this article for your web hosting needs.
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