Web Hosting: Which is the host with the most?Written by Marc Eberhart
So you want to publish a web site do you? Welcome to club. These days it seems that almost everyone has a web site of some kind, and thousands more continue to be launched every day. It's challenging enough to design a site and fill it with interesting content, but when all is said and done another challenge still remains - where to host it?
A popular choice for newbie webmasters, and even experienced ones, is to secure a free hosting plan with a company such as Yahoo! Geocities, Tripod or Angelfire. While these are easy to setup and free of charge, they do have limitations. Most free hosts don't offer all nice features that paid hosts do such as FTP access, CGI-BIN, or your own personal domain name. Instead you're stuck with minimal features and a generic URL such as www.freewebhost.com/marcswebsite. This somewhat limits your web site‘s potential. Most free hosts also require you to run banners or pop-up ads on your web site to make it worth their while - these banners and pop-ups can obstruct view of your web page and ultimately annoy visitors and drive them away. Lastly, most free hosts have a daily bandwidth limit that is very small, so if you do get a lot of traffic you'll most likely exceed allotted bandwidth and your site will be temporarily disabled. Overall I would recommend free web hosts for people that are new to web hosting and want to get a feel for how it works. I'd also recommend them for web sites that are personal in nature (such as an online journal) as well as web sites that don't plan to generate any revenue. Free web hosts are a great stepping stone to paid web hosts - I myself starting building web sites 4 years ago using free hosts, and today I run several high traffic web sites that are hosted on paid web hosting plans.
Now it's time to get into good stuff - paid web hosting. Web hosting companies that charge money for their services are plentiful on Internet, and feature a wide array of hosting packages at various price points. First we begin with so called "budget" web hosts, who claim to offer you world for only $1 per month. Having used numerous such companies I feel I must tell you to proceed with caution here, as these companies aren't all that they are cracked up to be. Many claim to offer 24/7 e-mail support, which in my experience turned out to be 0/0 e-mail support. My e-mails were either never answered or answered a week after I sent them. Even when I got a response it was generic in nature and completely unhelpful. Also, expect frequent outages with these budget web hosts as they rarely even have their own web servers - often they are reselling space on someone else's web servers over which they have no control. One budget web host I used went down unexpectedly for 6 days, and they didn‘t even bother to notify their customers. As a result, my web site was down for 6 days and I lost most of my visitors as well as my hard-earned search engine rankings. Lesson learned: if reliability and success of your web site is important to you, budget web hosting might not be answer. However, this is not to say that all budget web hosts are bad - 1dollarhosting.com is one of leaders in budget web hosting arena and has quite a good reputation.
The Basics of HostingWritten by Ric Shreves
At its most basic, getting an Internet project up and running requires two essentials: access to hardware and access to Internet. Hardware and bandwidth are a major consideration in light of both potential expense and issue of quality of service. This is one of those areas where you can pay as much or as little as you like. There is a correlation between what you pay and quality you get, but there are plenty of good deals to be found in current market, so shop around.
Let’s take one step back and make sure everyone shares some common ground, in terms of terms.
"Servers" are hardware that holds and distributes information to people via Internet. A small site may reside on a server with a number of other sites, a large site may require hundreds of separate servers in a variety of physical locations, all connected together and running as one cohesive system.
Servers can handle a wide variety of functions, from housing websites, to running mailing systems. For a quick rundown of server terminology check out Webopedia server listing.
While some firms are interested in owning and feeding their own equipment, most firms these days choose to outsource all, or at least part, of task. Outside of firms with special needs, it is hard to make a case for purchasing hardware in current market. Like a new car, a server depreciates massively moment it is taken from dealer. Add to equation maintenance of hardware and software, and you have a cost center that not only becomes more expensive over time, but less functional relative to newest technology.
A web hosting company (sometimes called an "Internet Data Center" or "IDC") will offer a variety of packages, including rental of hardware. The low monthly costs associated with hosting these days tips hardware scale firmly toward decision to rent, rather than buy hardware. Let web host’s staff worry about changing disk drives, updating operating system with newest security patch and keeping electricity and Internet connection going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Outsourcing lets you focus on your core competencies, and fact is that most IT departments weaned on office networks are in no position to support a real time data center-type operation.
When we talk about outsourcing hosting, another term you are likely to hear frequently is “collocation”. Co-location facilities physically house hardware and equipment in a secure location. The facility generally offers some degree of security against physical intrusion, fire, and power or bandwidth interruption. The quality of physical facility and staff is generally related directly to price and a site visit is appropriate where high-reliability installations are required.