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Mailing Lists A mailing list is a discussion group that is email-based. They are useful as a promotional tool. You can also use a mailing-list program to distribute your ezine.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) It allows you to transfer files to and from your Web site quickly and easily. This service should be provided. Only some free web hosting services don't offer FTP. I would be really be worried if a web hosting service doesn't offer this basic service.
Anonymous FTP Accounts This function allows you to set up an FTP site that people can access to download files. If you are distributing software or giving away free ebooks, this is a great tool. You can also have files transfered directly from your Web site, but it's sometimes handy to have an FTP site as well. FTP sites can resume interrupted downloads. If someone is transfering a file, and their ISP or phone company cuts them off half way through, they can come back and continue transfer where they left of. This works great for large downloads.
A Secure Server - Referred To As SSL Server This is a must if you plan to take orders online or transfer sensitive information. The secure server allows redit-card information typed into a form to be encrypted before being sent from user's Web browser to server. You may have to pay an additional fee to use secure server. You don't have to have a secure server to take orders online, but you may lose a lot of orders if you don't provide this for your customers.
CGI Scripts You can use CGI to take information from a form and send it to your email account and some shopping cart programs use it as well. A good Web hosting service will have a library of CGI scripts you can use. Find out if you can add your own CGI scripts. Don't get a service that won't allow you to do this. You may regret it in future even if you don't use them now.
Advanced Features Does The Web Host Provide Advanced Features Such As Database Access, Java Applets, RealAudio/Video, PHP,Password Protection...etc If You Need Them !?
Backups A good web host will backup your web directory daily. This is pretty standard throughout industry. If a web host doesn't provide this service, don't even consider using them. Some web hosts will even do redundant backups to insure your web site is not lost.
A Guarantee With so many web hosting services out there, make sure you choose one that offers a guarantee. Services that offer a moneyback guarantee are confident that you'll be satisfied with their service. Look for at least a basic 30 day money back guarantee.
Flexibility The ideal web hosting service will have lots of options and upgrades to accomodate future growth of your web site. You may need to add ecommerce to your web site (shopping cart, storefront, merchant account), or more web space, a forum, or you might just need to have your own dedicated server. A good web hosting company will have all these resources available to you if you need them.
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