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Web Site Creation: Finding a Host

 

Introduction

A web site is one or more computer files that are placed in a machine called a server and these files can then be accessed by interested people. The server is just a computer. Because of, or based on, the complexities of the Internet (file management, security, protocols, etc), it is not particularly easy to simply put a file in any computer and make that file available to others. There are so many issues involved that various details must be taken care of (name translation, name resolution, security, etc) before the file can be accessed by a browser.

Although you can take care of making your web site available to others, in the beginning, or most of the time, it is better to let another company worry about this. Putting a web site (which is primarily one or a list of computer files) on a server is referred to as hosting. A company that takes care of this is called a host.

Find a Host

Unless you plan to host the web site yourself, after registering a domain name, you can shop for a host. There are various companies on the market and dedicated to this business. The Internet is probably the best place to shop for a hosting company. To proceed, you can open the browser, access a search engine, and do a search on "web hosting." You should be presented with various links of different companies. Each company will present you its products and services.

There are various aspects that will drive you to one company rather than another:

Type of Plan: As stated already, web hosting consists of storing the files of a web site on a server. One server can be used for different sites. In fact, the companies that conduct this business deal with people and individuals from different parts of the world with different types of web sites hosted on the same machines without any problem or confusing. This scenario is referred to as sharing a server and it is cheaper. An alternative is to have a dedicated server. In this case, only your site can be hosted on a particular server: no other site is supposed to share your server (of course, there is no way you can check this). Having a dedicated server is more expensive and you should consider it only if either you know that that's what you need or if the company hosting your site suggests it (usually because your site may be getting too much traffic than the shared server can handle). If you are starting a web site and don't know yet what is coming, choose a basic plan. You can always change later.

Hosting Price: Like any other service in a capitalist system, the cost of hosting a web site varies from one company to another, and from one hosting plan to another. If in doubt, when shopping for a host, most companies provide a telephone number you can call. Of course, if you call just to inquire, they will try to get you to sign with them. If you are starting a (small) web site, choose the cheapest (basic) plan that allows you to use your own domain name.

Server Space: Normally, most companies nowadays give you as much space as possible: memory is not expensive (anymore). Still when the prices are equal for the same type of plan, choose the company that gives more space.

Bandwidth: The bandwidth is the amount of traffic that a web server can handle, or the amount of traffic that the host is allowing to your web site. If you are starting with a small web site made of just a few files, you may not worry about this. Most companies give you enough bandwidth in the beginning. Depending on your intentions, if your site may start attracting more visitors. Then, the bandwidth will be an issue. Still, when shopping, if two companies offer the same hosting prices, choose the one with more bandwidth.

Company Reputation: Among the attributes you should consider from a company are the control panel (it is web page you will be accessing privately to manage your web site). In the beginning, you may not be able to distinguish one good control panel from another. Only more experience will guide you eventually. Another aspect you should check is the so-called down time. In reality, every company will boast that it's down time is 99.99% (what ever they think that means). Probably the most important aspect of a hosting company is its support: it's ability to answer to your support questions the soonest possible. You may have heard, of you will hear, stories from one person telling about a company that can be reached easily. Another person would tell you that the same company replies to emails only a few hours later or only the following day. Only experience with the company will help you decide for your self.

Microsoft FrontPage: There is no need to dispute that Microsoft FrontPage is the most popular software used to develop web pages. One of the strengths is also that it makes it relatively easy to upload your files (transfer your computer files to the server that is hosting your site). To make this possible, your hosting company must do something on your account (they will usually ask you to do it yourself, which is usually easy).

Other issues that may interest you are the operating system (hosting on Linux is usually cheaper, requesting Microsoft Windows may be a little expensive), the database server (MySQL is the most common and is usually available with most basic/Linux plans), (unlimited) email (most companies offer this even in their basic hosting plan, so there is no reason your company would not include it in your plan), photo, video, blogging, forum, etc.

Getting a Host

Once you have decided on the company to use, you must create an account with them and make the (first) payment. When you sign with a company, you will create an account with them by filling out a form. When doing this, you will create a username and assign a password (some companies will create a password for you). All the information you provide or create will/may still be sent to you by email.

Probably the most tricky aspect about signing with a company is the payment. Once again, if you have a credit card (Visa or Master Card), you can easy make the payment. Most companies offer other forms of payment.

 

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