Web Host Tutorial






Which Web Host Account to Order:  What You Need and What You Don't

One of the hosts I like, iPowerWeb, only offers one account so if you go with them it's easy - you don't need to worry about figuring out which account to get.  That one account has everything you will ever need and then some.  Most other web hosts, however, do offer a choice of plans.

So, how do you know which plan to get?  When you compare web host accounts you will see a lot of techie jargon.  Here is a sample of a web hosting plan:  50 mb storage, 500mb bw, pop3 email account, FTP, mysql database, cgi, php, python, ssl, ssh, Front Page extensions.

Seems confusing, huh?  Don't let the techie jargon throw you.  If you are just starting out here is what you need to know; the things you should care about and the things you can ignore:

1.  Storage Space - this is the amount of space you are allowed to use on your web host's servers.  If you are just starting out don't worry that the plan you select won't have enough space for you.  It will.

All you will probably need is 5 mb of storage space. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it's really a HUGE amount.  The average website uses between 2-3 mb of space.  As a guide, one of my sites has over 100 pages and uses less than 3  mb of space.

Since the most basic plan offering for most web hosts offers much more space than that (10, 50, 100, 500, etc.), if you get the cheapest plan and it provides at least 5 mb of space you should be fine.   

People who need extra space:  photographers who are putting their portfolio on the web, people who want to put movies up, people running a lot of databases/chat rooms/other programs.

2.  Bandwidth - whenever someone visits your web site your web host's server has to "serve up" your site to them.  The space it takes up when your host delivers the site is called bandwidth.  This is also called data transfer by some hosts.  The more times people request your site, the more bandwidth is used.  Thus, the more popular your site, the more bandwidth you will use.   

Most sites never exceed their allotted bandwidth so you probably will never have to worry about this.  If your site gets hugely popular your web host will tell you that you need to move up to an account with more bandwidth.  A good problem to have.

3.  Email - most web hosts plan offer a POP3 email account and either unlimited email addresses, auto-responders and forwarders or else a substantial amount. 

A POP3 account lets you send and receive email from your computer using a program like Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, etc.  That way you don't have to log into your web mail to check your mail.  You can receive it and send it directly from your desk top. 

Email Addresses (also called aliases) lets you create a bunch of different email addresses using your domain name.  For example, you could create you@yourdomain.com, sales@yourdomain.com, support@yourdomain.com, etc.  

You really don't need to worry about the email offerings since most web hosts offer all of this as standard. 

4.  CGI - if you want to get a bit technical and offer certain scripts from your site such as Refer a Friend, Bookmark this Site, Newsletter sign up, etc. then you want to make sure the hosting account you sign up for includes CGI access.  This allows scripts to work on your site. 

If you use a web host's site builder to create your web site you don't need to worry about this - they will have offerings on your site which will allow you to easily do this.

5.  Front Page Extensions - this only applies if you are using Front Page to build your software.  Your web host needs to support Front Page extensions in order for you to transfer your site to your web host's servers using front page.  Most do, but a few still don't.  If it doesn't say so on their site, check with your web host prior to signing up just to make sure they do support Front Page.

6.  PHP, Perl, MySql, SSI, etc. - if you don't know what something is and I haven't explained it above, you don't need it. 

So, now you know what you need, what to look for and what to look out for.  You are now set to begin your web host search.  Not sure where to start?  So many people asked me to recommend hosts that I've put up a list of the web hosts that I like. 

Click here for: The Web Hosts I Like


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