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Good stuff to have if you need it
Telnet access - Being able to access your site from Telnet (command line) is useful to me, but most webmasters will never need this function. This is especially true if functions such as CRONTAB (scheduling tasks) can be done through control panel.
Custom CGI scripts - If you are paying for a host, then you should make sure you can install your own CGI scripts. This is not important, of course, if you don't plan on including any of your own scripts.
PERL Support - If you use PERL routines, then this is essential. Again, this is not absolutely necessary if you are not using PERL.
SSI Support - Server Side Includes are a very nice way to make it easy to make changes to your web pages. Again, you either need it or you don't.
PHP Support - PHP is a great server-side scripting language (far superior to ASP). If you can get it on a host (and most paid hosts support PHP) then you are doing well.
MySQL Support - MySQL is database tool. This allows you to get input from visitors, store it on your web site and allow your visitors to retrieve it later.
Unlimited autoresponders - I think most web hosts offer unlimited autoresponders with feeling that they will not be used much. They always seem surprised to find that I've used them at all. Autoresponders are a great way to automate your web site, so it's a good idea to get them. If your host doesn't offer them and you wind up needing them, then you will need to purchase them from somewhere else.
Direct access to server logs - You can get along without accessing server logs, but it sure makes it easier to tell how you site is doing.
Upload from control panel in addition to FTP access - I almost always use FTP access to upload (and download) files from my site. However, there odd occasions when I've used control panel upload. Not essential, but nice to be able to use once in a while.
SSL Support - This is needed if you want to run secure web pages from your site.
Subdomains - A subdomain is a domain in format of subdomain.domain. For example, wallpapers.internet-tips.net is a subdomain. These are very useful for separating functional areas of your site. A good web host will allow you to have as many of these on your site as you want.
FrontPage Support - Well, if you use FrontPage then you will obviously need to be able to upload pages. Personally, I would just as soon use FTP, as it's usually faster and better, even when using FrontPage for site development.
Not incredibly useful to most people
Web hosts like to say these things are important, but in reality they are mostly bells and whistles.
Search engine submission - All web hosts will boast in their promotional materials that they will submit your site for you to search engines. You should be doing this anyway, so it's not incredibly useful that a host will do it for you.
BGMAILBOX and everyone.net support - These can be nice services, but they really are not necessary for most people. I think main reason why I would want these in a host is simply to know they are available.
PERL modules - A few hosts will install PERL modules for you. This is a way to extend functionality of PERL, and it's not very useful to most webmasters. However, if you do find a host which will let you do this, then you can be sure you can do almost anything.
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets at http://www.internet-tips.net - Visit our website any time to read over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.