Hosting A Web Site

There are lots of different ways for hosting a web site, so how do you find the best solution for you?

This page has general info on web site hosting, what to look for, and a couple of web hosting suggestions. I'll be adding more web site hosting information so come back for another look later, or better still, subscribe to the RSS feeds or to the newsletter.

Top Website Hosting

If you're looking for top quality inexpensive hosting HostGator is one of the best hosts you'll find. It's user friendly, totally green powered, and constantly gets good reviews. Plans start around $5/month.

If you're looking for a value-for-money total website building/hosting solution, Site Build It is the best around. I've used it for a few years now, and I like the way it saves me lots of time, and the fact that I get all the tools I need (top quality) for a lot cheaper than I could get them separately from other sources.

What Is Web Site Hosting?

Hosting lets other people look at your website on the internet. Typically for a small business or home business web site you'll rent space on a web server (another computer with web server software)  that is connected to the internet 24/7. You upload the web pages that you've built on your own computer to the web server using FTP (file transfer protocol).

Your web site is then available to be viewed 24/7.

Different Types Of Web Site Hosting

Most small business/home business websites use shared hosting. Your site is hosted on a server along with possibly hundreds of other websites. If you just consider the cost of the hosting itself, it's the most cost effective solution. Prices range from about $5 a month.

The performance of your site can be affected by other sites on the same server, and quality of service can range from really good to not so good.

With a virtual private server you still share a server with other websites, but you get a guaranteed share of the computing resources on the server. Prices range from about $50 a month.

With a dedicated server you're renting one whole server from the hosting company. Prices start at around $100 a month.

You'll often get free hosting from your internet service provider, but that isn't suitable for a business site for a variety of reasons. It may be fine for a personal site though.

There are service providers that advertise "build your site in 5 minutes". They provide the hosting and the site builder, and you can get a nice looking website up quickly. But it takes an awful lot more work to actually get traffic.

The most cost effective solution for a website is an all in one solution that gives you all the web tools you need for one price. It costs more up front, but it will save you money in the long run.

Web Space and Bandwidth

When you're hosting a web site, you'll need enough space on the web host to put all your pages, and you'll need an allowance for data transfer, which is usually referred to as bandwidth. 

Every time someone looks at one of your web pages data is transfered and some your allowance is used up. So just how much space and bandwidth do you need?

Space is usually measured in megabytes  (Mb) and bandwidth in gigabytes (Gb).

For this web site which is largely text based, at 50 pages I'm using about 6 Mb of web space. A site with lots of large pictures would need a lot more space. If I was getting 2000 visitors a month with an average 3 page views per visitor I'd be using less than 1 Gb a month bandwidth.

As the site grows and page views grow, requirements would go up.

Email

Email is another essential when you're hosting a web site. You'll need multiple POP3 email accounts which are the traditional me@mywebsite.com accounts. Then there is email forwarding, where you can send your emails to another email address, aliases, and autoresponders.

With an alias, you can have another name that looks like an email address e.g. webmaster@mywebsite.com that forwards mail to your real email address e.g. me@mywebsite.com.

An autoresponder lets you send an automated email or series of emails to someone. It could be as simple as "thank you for your email, I'll get back to you as soon as possible". or it could send out a series of emails  such as a seven part e-course.

Uploading Your Web Pages

Generally you'll use an FTP (file transfer protocol) program to upload pages to the web host. Filezilla is a good free FTP program.

More about how to upload web pages.

Ease Of Use 

Personally, I hate things that are hard to use, so ease of use is a big plus for me. Two things I think are great are the cPanel control panel and Fantastico.

cPanel has a graphical interface that is intuitive and simple to use and it makes managing your web site quite easy. Fantastico is a part of cPanel that lets you integrate third party programs easily, such as blogging programs, ecommerce, image galleries etc.

Other systems can be used. For example I like Site Build It (SBI) which has every web tool you'll need including hosting. SBI uses its own software and everything in it is designed for simplicity and time saving.

Support

When you're hosting a website support can be critical. Chances are that you'll have a problem with your hosting or you'll need a question answered. When that happens you'll want an answer quickly.

There are a lot of different ways host give support. There can be phone support, 24/7 email support, forums, live chat support, or a knowledge base with frequently asked questions on it. Often there will be a ticketing system where you email in your question via a form. The ticketing system lets the support team keep track of the questions and responses until the problem is finally resolved.

Working Out What Is Best For You

You'll need to look at your needs and goals to work out what is the best solution for hosting a web site for you.

Look at your requirements, such as how big you expect your web site to be and how many page views you expect. If you are a normal small business and you're building the web site yourself shared hosting or an all in one website/hosting solution will be fine. You can always upgrade later if you need to.

I'd suggest you look at your total expenses, not just hosting. For a successful website you'll need a quality autoresponder/newsletter program and at least until you get your website finished you'll want a good keyword tool. That's around $20/month each. With $8/month for hosting, that's almost 580/year.

An all in one package can save a lot of money. For example, Solo Build It has every tool you need, they're all top quality, and it only costs $299/year or $29.99/month

If you go for shared hosting HostGator is one of the best. It hosts over 2 million websites, is 130% wind powered, and is constantly rated highly in reviews. It uses cPanel, has a site builder and templates, and unlimited disc space and bandwidth. Prices start from under $5/month.



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