Advertisements for web hosting are ubiquitous. Everything from free
web hosting to full packages for $9.99 are in your face wherever
you browse. Itís easy to fall for this type of advertising and find
yourself in an agreement with insufficient space, bandwidth or features.
As with anything, watch out for all the cheap tricks businesses
play to try and get your business. Just like a $1.99 oil change for
someone who knows about cars, you realize that thereís got to be
a catch. But, cost of web hosting has decreased quite a bit due to
inexpensive hardware and good old American competition. Hereís what
you need to consider:
1) What exactly are you getting? Is it low-cost because they run
advertisements on your site? You probably donít want random ads
if youíre in business. Do you have a ďcontrol panelĒ or do you
have to go through a website to upload your pages? Do you have
FTP (file transfer protocol)? Does it include email (with both
POP3 and SMTP)? Are you planning on building the site or hiring
someone? If you hire someone you will usually get a better deal
letting them handle it.
2) How much space do you need? Most websites donít need a ton of
space. Where space issues come in a lot of time is with email (and
this is something most folks donít consider). What happens if you
go over? Do emails just bounce? Do they automatically charge you
an overage (like cell phone companies)? As far as video, audio
and high resolution pictures are concerned, bandwidth will be more
of an issue than space. But you do want to make sure you have enough
space for your videos, your images, site, and emails.
3) BandwidthÖthis is the BIG issue. A lot of sites offer great
prices on web hosting, but then they put a bunch of website on
one actual physical server. The result is a bottle neck and your
site loads at a snailís pace (frustrating many customers). Another
issue is that while the space they sell you may be sufficient,
they donít offer you enough bandwidth and your site and email are
either temporarily disabled, or bounced. Either way, thatís not
good. You want enough bandwidth to give you all the wiggle room
you need and no fear of your site going down (beyond regular routine
maintenance which is acceptable for most small businesses (you
can always pay the big bucks for redundancy if itís not)).
Say you get a 100 MB site with 1000 MB (1 GB) of bandwidth. Say
youíve got 5 video clips that are 10 MB a piece. Your website is
2 MB, so that leaves you with 48 for growth and email. If no one
were to ever view your site, just your videos, and no one ever
sent you an email nor did you send an email to anyone, your bandwidth
would only allow your video clips to be viewed 20 times in one
month. Obviously, that wouldnít be good for business, and not very
realistic. So determine how big of videos you want to use first
and then find sufficient bandwidth.
Another factor already mentioned, but certainly worth elaborating
on, is email hosting. Youíll want email service with your hosting
that provides both incoming (POP3) and outgoing servers (SMTP). Youíll
probably also want to ensure that you have access to your email through
the web so you can check your mail from wherever you are. Email space
is usually part of the overall hosting package as is bandwidth. If
youíre going to be sending and receiving emails with large attachments,
factor that in to your space and bandwidth needs.
Site statistics are valuable for businesses who want to know how
many people are visiting their site, where they came from and how
they got there. Having a visible counter is not considered very professional,
so opt for an invisible one. You can pay for web statistic services,
but many hosting companies offer this as part of their package. These
statistics can show the country and IP address of each visitor as
well as what search term they used to arrive at the site or if they
made a direct access. Web statistics will also help you keep an eye
on your bandwidth.
Beyond researching the features of a web host, another good investigative
move is to check some of the other sites they host. Do they load
with ease or do they appear sluggish?
Finally, with the ever-growing problem of SPAM, it may be good to
check if the host has any blacklisted IP addresses. Even if you follow
all the laws set forth for SPAM, if the host allows another customer
to use the same server or IP address to send SPAM, yours could get
blacklisted as well. Youíll end up with emails never reaching your
clients, and you may not even know until itís too late.
© Web Renown, 2005
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