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					?Choosing the right Web Hosting package for you can be a bewildering task. With so
many packages, prices, terms, conditions, companies and countries vying for your
business, it's important that you understand what you need, so you can choose a
company who can give you what you want.

So here's a list of the major types of Web Hosting available on the market - what they
are, and what they're suitable for. And to make it a bit easier, we'll follow the career of
Dave*, a budding web entrepreneur making his first forays into the world of Web
Hosting.

Free Hosting

Free Hosting is exactly that, and although the old adage 'you get what you pay for'
doesn't exactly apply - as you are getting something, after all - Free Hosting is not
recommended for anyone with any kind of serious aspirations for their site. Of course
we offer Web Hosting so we would say that, right? Well, the two main things to
consider when looking at Free Hosting are 1 - someone has to pay for it, and 2 - what
happens if something goes wrong.

With regards to the first point, it's often the case that your Web Hosting is paid for by
advertisements on your site, and as that is what makes the Web Host their money, they
could well be as interested in advertising on your site as they are in getting you to use
their service so they can have more adverts. This leads on to point two - what kind of
support do you think you will get from a company that is giving you something for
free? What kind of guarantees can you have that your Web Hosting is reliable or
secure?

It is also common for Internet Service Providers (ISP's), amongst others, to offer Free
Hosting as part of a package with other services (such as Broadband or Digital TV).
These are better solutions as they obviously come attached to a reputable (well...)
company, and will be able to provide support. Again, though, remember that it is their
other service that pay for your Hosting - the Hosting is an enticing extra. Support may
well suffer, too, if the company specialises in other products and services.

Some companies, for instance Blogger, will offer free online spaces for specific sites
(in Blogger's case, you get a free online blog). However, you're limited to what you
can do with the templates they give you, and you won't be able to expand your site or
even have your own domain name. So, only go for Free Hosting if you are completely
satisfied that the company will be able to provide you with what you want. We
wouldn't advise choosing Free Hosting for a business-related site in any circumstance!

In Dave's instance, he has been given some Free Hosting as part of a deal with his ISP.
Dave's never made a website of his own before, and he's certainly never had any Web
Hosting. He's interested but a bit lost, and manages to build a basic, personal site with
only a few difficulties. He stumbles across Wordpress and finds that he doesn't get any
databases with his Free Hosting. As the Hosting is part of his package - and free - his
ISP don't have any facility to upgrade his account. Dave decides he wants his blog on
the Internet, and after talking to one of his friends on Blogger and thinking dreamily
about maybe starting an online business, Dave contacts some Web Hosting companies
to see what is available to him.

Shared Hosting

This is the most common form of Web Hosting available. A company sets up one or
more servers to be used for Web Hosting, and their customers in turn pay for a portion
of that server and share it with other customers. So a server may be responsible for
several hundred web sites at a time.

Shared Hosting has many advantages. It is the cheapest form of commercial Hosting,
as the cost of the server can be offset by the many customers who can use it at once.
They don't require advanced technical knowledge to use and you only need to
administer your account - at no point do you have anything to do with the server. As it
is a paid solution you will have access to customer support, a contract, uptime
guarantees and so on.

The disadvantage is that, as you are sharing a server with other customers, you are
also sharing the resources of that server. The server, just like a home PC, has only so
much memory, CPU and disk space available, and if other customers are using it
heavily - or if the Web Host has put too many people on the server - or even if the
server isn't particularly fast in the first place! - you may well find that your web site
appears to be slow.

You will also find that Shared Hosting doesn't allow a lot of the advanced, powerful
features that higher end options present to you. There is a slight increase in security
risk, too, as you can never be sure how secure your 'neighbours' are - but bear in mind
that the server will be very secure in the first place, and the risk is not something to be
alarmed about.

So our friend Dave starts out with a very simple Web Hosting package, with a little
web space and a database. He installs Wordpress and starts to blog seriously, and then
decides he wants to start his online business. With his basic account he commissions a
Web Design Company to build him an eCommerce site, with his blog built in as one
of the features. As his store grows, he finds that he can expand his site fairly easily,
without having to worry about any limits like he had with the ISP.

Shared Hosting is the ideal solution for most sites and users. With a few exceptions,
only people who want their own server and/or control over the contents of it will need
anything else. So Dave, like many people, is perfectly happy, until he decides to quit
his day job, and go full time with his eCommerce site. At this point, Dave, who is a bit
more knowledgeable about Web Hosting now, considers if there is anything he can do
to improve his site.

Reseller Hosting

Reseller Hosting is a generic term that applies to several different kinds of Web
Hosting. It isn't a definition of the kind of Web Hosting on offer, as such, as the kind
of person offering it.

A Hosting Reseller purchases a larger Web Hosting account from a Web Hosting
company, and in turn sells portions of their account to their own customers. They are
essentially providing the services of a Web Hosting company, without having to set up
and finance the expensive hardware and the maintenance of it themselves. This kind
of Web Hosting is popular with, for example, start-up Web Hosting businesses,
companies with a large portfolio of sites, and Web Design companies wanting to offer
Hosting to their clients.

A Hosting Reseller may be offering Shared, VPS or Dedicated solutions (see part two).
Customers tend to benefit from cheaper Web Hosting as a Reseller often purchases
their Web Hosting at a discount. The only major drawback with Reseller Hosting is
that the Reseller is also a customer of the company they have bought their Hosting off
of in the first place. The more advanced the Hosting they are offering, the more
support the Reseller can give you directly - but as a customer of a Reseller, it is
possible that you will contact the Reseller about a technical fault, who will then in
turn have to contact his or her Hosting company.

Reseller Hosting is only of use to Dave if he decides to sell Hosting to other people,
or expand his business with a large portfolio of other sites. If he wasn't looking to do
either of these he'd probably stick with Shared Hosting - as it is the most common
form of Hosting it is also the most popular, and he'd get more use out of it. For now
though, Dave thinks he is happy with a single site, he would just prefer to have more
control and performance as his site is getting quite busy and he has a few demanding
redesign plans in mind. So, in the second part of this article, we'll look at some of the
more advanced Web Hosting options available to Dave (and you, of course).

*Dave is not real. He is just for illustrative purposes only, and any resemblance to any
Dave or any events that have happened to any Dave, living, dead or otherwise, is
purely coincidental.
# Ewan MacLeod
# NuBlue Web Solutions
http://www.bestdedicatedhosting.co.uk

				
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