Whether you already have a website or are thinking of setting up shop online, sooner or later you'll have to deal with issue of web hosting. Although it may seem like a "no brainer," there are actually many factors you'll need to consider before making this important decision. Your first inclination may be to look only at cost, thinking "cheaper is better." However, that old saying "you get what you pay for,"is especially true in this situation. Here are some of more important points you'll want to look at when considering your next host.
UNIX/ NT/ The two most popular hosting platforms to choose from are UNIX and NT. UNIX is by far favorite, as it was only choice way back in early days of Internet. It is easy to configure, great for setting your own file permissions and platform for most of free scripts available for download. It is flexible, reliable and supports scripting languages like Perl and PHP3.
NT is Microsoft's baby. One problem that I have found with NT servers is a lack of readily available scripts that work on this platform. Also, (unlike UNIX) many NT users need assistance from their Web Host Administrators to set file permissions. NT supports MS applications such as ASP, Access, FP and scripting languages such as Perl, Cold Fusion and ASP.
TECH SUPPORT/ When you need help you'll want to make sure you can get it. Some web hosts offer phone support or even live chat. Make sure they have good tech support in place as there's nothing more annoying than needing assistance with your site and not being able to get it.
SET UP FEE/ MONTHLY FEE/ Some hosts charge an initial set up fee to get your site set up and running on their server. Make sure you check on this when comparing prices. I've seen monthly fees ranging from 9.99 to 39.99, depending on plan and services offered. My advice to you would be to look past cheapest and most expensive ends of scale and go with a mid-range pricing plan to be on safe side. You should be able to pick up a reliable web host for 20 to 25.00 per month.
HARD DRIVE/ SPACE/ How much space they're willing to give you is important if you're going to compare apples to apples. You need to keep in mind size of your site when deciding how much space you really need. Generally, 20 to 30 MB is plenty for a small site. You might want to ask if you can pay for more space should your site ever outgrow its present state.
FTP ACCESS/ TELNET ACCESS/ Even if you plan on using Frontpage to manage your site, you'll still need to have FTP access. It is usually standard, but it never hurts to ask. Make sure you keep your user name and password in a safe place. You'll use FTP to set file permissions and to upload your files to web server.
Telnet can be very useful for troubleshooting CGI scripts and changing server configurations. There are some servers that will not grant telnet access.