Choosing a Web Hosting Provider
Once your website has been designed and you’re ready to launch it on the world wide web, you will need to find a place to host it so people can see it. There are three ways to get your site from your computer to the World Wide
- Installing a web server on your computer and connecting it to the Internet. (This method is expensive and complicated. In Nigeria it is not advisable because of epileptic power supply)
- Hosting your website on your Internet service provider’s space. (Cheap, but lacking some of the services a business site needs.)
- Hosting your website using a web hosting provider.
Of these options, most business owners find using a web hosting provider is the easiest and most cost-effective. A web host also provides a lot more storage space than you can usually manage on your own.
There are a number of options to look for when choosing a host. Ask about the following to ensure you find a provider that will meet your needs.
Cost: Most web hosting providers charge both a start-up fee and a monthly service fee. Monthly fees range into the thousands of dollars, but most businesses can get the space they need for between $30 and $100 a month.
Disk Space: Make sure that you have enough disk space to accommodate your current web site content as well as the expansions you expect down the road. Most sites use less than 5MB of web space, but depending on your use of pictures, graphics, Flash, or multimedia files, you might need more. Ask how much space is included and how much extra space will cost should you need it.
Bandwidth: Bandwidth refers to the number of bytes transferred from your site to visitors when they browse your site. The higher the bandwidth, the faster your pages will load, making the browsing experience better for your visitors. Be sure that the host you choose specifies exactly how much traffic it will allow. Most new sites require less than 3GB of bandwidth per month.
Domain Names: Your web hosting service may offer you free registration for your domain name. If you need more than one domain name – one for your home page and one used to promote specific products, for example – ask if there will be an extra fee.
Email Address: Most hosts offer at least one email address associated with your site. Make sure you can get several email accounts to accommodate your current and future employees as well as addresses that are dedicated to support and information, for example, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
File transfer Protocol (FTP): FTP allows you to transfer files to and from your web site and is a necessity for most sites – and it's included by most host companies. If you are selling software or other downloadable goods, you may need an anonymous FTP site so that users can access and download files.
Security: If you plan to take online orders or transmit personal information (such as credit card numbers), you’ll need a secure server (often called an SSL server). There may be an additional fee for secure service, but it will pay off in the long run because many customers won’t make a purchase or submit their information from an unsecured site.
Activity Reports: Activity or access reports provide you with information about the people who visit your site. These reports can include information about which pages were viewed the most, how long users viewed each page, and how users found your site. Find out exactly what information will be provided and how often you’ll receive updated reports.
Passwords: If you need password protected pages (account logins, for example) be sure the host offers this service.
Support: Find out how service and support will be provided. Ask if calls are toll-free, and see how long you can expect to wait for a response to any calls or emails. Ask if customer service is free, and because your web site will function 24 hours a day, make sure you have access to support at any hour.
Finding the right host for your site is like finding a new place to live. You want to have all of the basic amenities, plus a few extra perks to make it a little nicer. Choose an experienced provider you feel comfortable working with, one that address all of your site’s needs, and you’ll have the right home for your site in no time.