So, you know how to create HTML files (web pages) and want to start a website. You have a domain name but don't know where to store files (web host). You find countless web hosting companies offering a wide range of products but you can't make heads or tails of all features to decide which plan is right for you.
Does this sound like you?
If so, this article was written for you. Hopefully after reading it, you will have a better understanding of all terms associated with web hosting and find a hosting company that is right for your business.
File Storage Space
Usually hosting companies sell different packages centered around storage space. Storage space is specified in kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB), or gigabytes (GB); a megabyte is 1000 kilobytes and a gigabyte is 1000 megabytes.
How much storage space do you need? Well, that depends on what you are planning to do with your website. If you have only a few pages of text and little to no graphics or images, a 25 MB should be more than you will ever need. Most hosting packages start at 25 MB of storage space. When comparing web hosting companies for file storage space, be sure to check their terms and conditions to make sure they do not charge another setup fee for upgrading to a packge with more space.
One way to determine size of your files in Microsoft Windows, right click Start button and click Explore. Scroll down and select file(s) or folder(s) you plan on using for your website. Right click on selected file(s) or folder(s) and click Properties and you will see size.
Bandwidth is measure of how much data flows through your site. It is usually expressed in GB transfered per month. If you are expecting a lot of hits (millions of page views) to your site you will need to get most bandwidth you can afford. For new web sites it may take a while to get up to a significant bandwith. If you find you are approaching bandwith limit, you can always upgrade to a plan with higher bandwidth. Some plans allow you to increase your monthly bandwidth for an additional monthly charge.
Most hosting plans include a significant number of POP e-mail accounts and unlimited e-mail forwarding.
POP accounts can be accessed with your current e-mail program and some hosts may include a webmail interface for your POP accounts. If you have several people that work for your web site/business and want them to have their own e-mail address, you will need to select a hosting plan with enough POP accounts.
E-mail forwarding is when e-mail that is addressed to your website gets redirected to another e-mail address that you specify. Most plans include unlimited e-mail forwarding. An example of e-mail forwarding: for one of my websites mail addressed to mike-@-mrgoodbeer.com, sales-@-mrgoodbeer.com, and webmaster-@-mrgoodbeer.com all get redirected to my Gmail address. With e-mail forwarding you can easily track where your e-mails are coming from. Be careful though...the more e-mail addresses you have, more SPAM you will receive.
Shared vs Dedicated
When comparing hosting plans, you may notice plans for shared hosting and dedicated hosting. Shared hosting simply means that your web site will be hosted with other websites on same server or machine. Shared hosting is good for average web site where speed is not a priority.
A dedicated server is just that, a server that is dedicated to your website. The advantages of a dedicated server are speed and control. The disadvantage is cost, you will usually have to pay a much larger monthly fee for having a dedicated hosting plan. If you know nothing about Unix, Linux, or network administration make sure to get a managed dedicated server. The hosting company will take care of all security and software patches/updates that arise over time.