An Affordable Web Site Host: It’s about more than the price tag! Some people always go for the freebies, but if somebody offered you a dozen rotten eggs for free, would you take them? Of course you wouldn't, you’re smarter than that! But, what is "affordability" anyway? For some people, affordability is really about the price tag. However, it doesn’t take long before people realize that affordability is about much more than that. Purchasing a cheap hosting package from a company promising to be an affordable Web site host is, in many ways, a lot like buying the cheapest sound system or car on the market. I know you wouldn't do that, so read on, and I'll explain to you why purchasing the cheapest Web hosting package isn't the right decision either. Currently, there are so many Web hosting companies out there offering cheap hosting packages. In fact some of them offer these hosting packages for ridiculous prices. Many companies even offer unlimited service for $5.95 per month! But, when you think about it, they often talk about their soaring global sales, they're specially trained staff, their vast fiber-optic networks, and they're fully redundant Cisco networks at the same time. How is it possible for them to build such a vast infrastructure while maintaining their equipment and training their staff? You can bet they're cheap Web hosting packages have nothing to do with it-you can see that from their price tag. Many of these companies offer promises (like cheap Internet hosting packages) that are, quite simply, impossible. At the same time, they also reveal their modest understanding of today's technology. Is it even possible to offer “unlimited” anything? The truth is (with the exception of outer space) nothing in this world is unlimited. So, let's be serious: if nothing is unlimited then surely we can agree that bandwidth and disk space are not unlimited either. Generally speaking, when choosing a cheap Web hosting package people are always concerned about speed as opposed to bandwidth or available disk space. Why? Because, for example, you can always get more disk space. However, server speed and responsiveness are things that money simply cannot buy. In fact, as the server begins to fill up, not only is space disappearing, but the speed of the server itself begins to deteriorate. So, if the company offering you a cheap hosting package offers you unlimited services for a low price, you can be absolutely certain that their servers will be filled with data from too many customers so they can generate a profit. Of course, that means slower speeds for you which will never get any better. Suddenly, you're cheap hosting package is no longer as wonderful as you thought it would be. But there are many more factors that you should consider. For example, think about what you can actually do with the service being provided. Many companies take the safe road and install virtually everything onto their servers and offer that as a single package. But what happens on a computer that runs ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, Pearl, Python, mySQL, MSSQL, SSI and so on? Under the worst-case scenario, absolutely nothing happens. What is often the case, is that once the company gets everything working, the server will have so many workarounds and security holes that should actually be pulled out of service to be repaired. Unfortunately, for many companies (and many of them are the ones who are offering cheap Web hosting packages), this rarely takes place and instead of being concerned about their clients safety and security, they're more concerned about getting everything working so that they can continue advertising all their fancy features. Of course, as time goes by, companies offering affordable Web site hosting simply apply updates which rarely work. It is not uncommon for them to apply any number of funky configurations so as to get the computer running again. Their approaches resemble a lot of the games I used to play in the springtime when I was a kid-like trying to direct the water from melting snow in a particular direction. When you think about it, it's not like you tell the flow where to go but, rather, where not to go. Of course, no matter how hard I tried, the next morning the water was always going where it wanted to go. You see, the problem wasn't with my tools or my technique. It was with my original idea of wanting the water to go on forever in a direction it simply could not go. Companies offering cheap Internet hosting often follow a similar logic as they typically have all their technologies running in a single box. It sounds cool, and it often sounds promising, but at the end of the day it simply does not work. You see, when you opt for a cheap hosting package, your site will be hosted on a server with configurations similar to those I described above. This being the case, you'll be forcing your Webmaster to code within what is essentially a broken environment. Often, this environment will also include old drivers because the new ones caused problems in the first place. In addition, the code the Webmaster provides to the server will have to be filled with workarounds similar to the ones in the operating system configuration. Of course, when the company offering the cheap Web hosting package discontinues its services because it became clear to them that nothing was working, you will have to change your host. But wait, things can get worse! To your astonishment, the code you previously used will not work on the new server. Why? Because, unlike your cheap Web host, the new server doesn't have all those special configurations in the operating system. Of course, this means you will have to contact your Webmaster to get things working again (of course, this presumes you can get in contact with the same Webmaster you previously had and that he remembers something about the workarounds in the code and why they were implemented in the first place). It sounds expensive, doesn't it? It is, especially when you consider how much time and money you used trying to incorporate all the workarounds. So, what it comes time to choose a company offering an affordable Web site hosting package, you should make sure you search for a host with prices that are reasonable in comparison to the services which they offer. Cheap Internet hosting is not always the best option. What you're looking for is a company that can afford to keep all their technologies working properly and in top-notch condition. Of course, what this also means, is that your environment will be stable and productive and that all development on the server will be as fast and cost effective as possible. So, don't believe the gimmicks that claim to be offering a "cheap Web hosting package" or that claim to be offering unlimited mailboxes, disk space, bandwidth, or anything else for that matter. Such things are not possible and often indicates that the company is driven by those in the marketing department who are more concerned with their own profit. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Web Hosting Offers Always Look Good: But what are your Web hosting needs? Once you make a decision to create an Internet presence that will require both a Web site and the company capable of offering you stable Web hosting, is extremely important for you to understand what kinds of resources you will need. By understanding exactly what kind of services you need, you can avoid overpaying for services or features that you will never use. Being aware of what your Web hosting needs are, will also help to ensure that you get the functionality you require. What type of Web site are you intending to build? This is a very important question, and is one that few people take seriously enough. Do you intend to use your Web site for an e-commerce business? As a site where you can write about your personal interests? Will your site be either static or highly interactive? Will it use a blog or an online forum? Will it provide information to the users and generate revenue? If you plan on running an e-commerce Web site, you'll have to find an online payment system and you might have to ensure that your Web host supports the secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption and you should also inquire as to whether they are able to provide shopping carts like the MIVA merchant. If you intend to develop custom e-commerce software, it is extremely important to you know a lot about the Web hosting environment so you can be absolutely sure it your software will work on their systems. A blog or online forums site will likely require PHP/CGI scripting and in most cases access to a database system like MySQL, PostgreSQL, or Microsoft's SQL Server. When looking through various Web hosting offers, also seriously consider how much storage space you will need. In addition to storage capacity, the bandwidth the company is able to provide is the next most over-hyped feature. If, for example, your average Web page (HTML code and graphics) is approximately 5KB, and you receive an average of 100 hits per day, you will be using up approximately 500 KB of bandwidth per day. Now, multiply this number by 30 and you have your average monthly figure. So, before you accept any Web hosting offer, it is crucial that you think carefully about exactly how big your Web site will be, how popular it will be, and what kind of service you'll be providing to your users. For example, online forums use up a lot of bandwidth because users usually stay online for long time as they read posts or make contributions. In addition to this, online forums often have a large number of people who return to read new messages. So, be careful. Before choosing one of your Web hosting offers, be sure to consider how much bandwidth you will actually need. Exactly what kinds of features will you need? The truth is, a plain vanilla colored HTML based Web site requires completely different resources when compared to a PHP/CGI/ASP based Web site that uses a database, special image libraries, and custom programming. So, if you intend to develop something more expensive than an HTML based Web site requiring custom programming or any kind of scripting language, make sure your Web host supports these standards and features. Often, when you read Web hosting offers, the companies will list everything they offer up front. But if you have any questions at all, it is crucial that you ask. In addition to specific programming languages, you might need special access to your Web site through either FTP or Telnet. Almost every paid Web hosting company allows FTP (file transfer protocol) access to Web sites. However, Telnet or SSH access is rare and may actually cost you more. This is the same when it comes to mail. Virtually every Web hosting company will provide you with SMTP/POP3 and Web based access to e-mail. However, if you require IMAP or secure access protocol, be sure to check with the Web hosting provider. As you can see, when sorting through various Web hosting offers, there's a lot you should consider. Don't Let Your Domain Name Be Hijacked! Today, domain names are very hot commodities. In fact, is becoming increasingly common that people steal domain names in order to sell them for profit. Today, companies are finding that they can no longer get their trademarked names as domain names because very few good names are left on the market. But sometimes it seems like extortion when a particular fortune 500 company discovers their name has been reserved by an individual who has absolutely no intention of ever developing a Web site under that domain. Instead, the person simply "parks" it somewhere in cyberspace and patiently waits for the company to offer an outrageous sum of money for the domain. Don't let your domain name be hijacked! Currently, there is a lucrative market for domain names that are short, memorable, and generic like Loans.com or Homes.com. Domain names like these can effectively capture an entire industry. Perhaps one of the more frustrating issues in the domain name marketplace is when an individual reserves a small business name or the name of a new product with the intention of making a profit down the road. For example, many small-business owners ask the following question when they're looking to get started online: "I've trademarked my name, but the domain name is already taken and was reserved by another company immediately after I registered my trademark. Do I have a legal right to obtain the domain name?" For more information and answers to this question, the following link is to a page called "Domain Names, a Trademark Owner's Nightmare." http://www.mdWeblaw.com/home/domainnames.html?=wshd This link discusses all the legal issues surrounding the ownership of domain names and actually cites two real cases which have been taken to court on the basis of domain name hijacking. If you ever find your domain name hijacked, the people who did it may have done so intentionally or unintentionally. Generally, you won't have a solid legal case unless you have a long, well-established history of using the trademarked name and can prove that the registrant was intending to extort excessive fees from you based on the assumption that you or your company would eventually try and buy back that domain name. Even if you do have a case, sometimes going to the legal process will cost you more than it is worth in the end. Domain name hijacking is really an unresolved battle at the present time. Until such time as specific laws are passed (which is not likely anytime soon) there are few ways to acquire the protected domain name other than being the first person in line to reserve it in the first place. While it is true that you may have a legal case if the individual is actually harming your business in some way by inappropriately using the name, it is a completely different story if they are simply using the domain for other purposes. In fact, you might want to consider selling them the trademark instead. Try contacting the registrant of www.your-trade-mark.com to see who it is. This is the best way to find out who the registered owner is and you can do so by simply typing in the domain name of interest to you. http://www.networksolutions.com/cgi-bin/whois/whois/ After you enter the domain name, the system will return a registrant name, hostname, and the servers name. With this information, you can contact the individual and explain your situation with respect to your trademark. Moreover, you can explain to them that you would like the domain name in question and ask them if they would be willing to consider a reasonable solution to the dilemma. You might even want to consider offering them twice the amount they paid for it in order to avoid a costly court battle. Ideally, they may be willing to sell it to you if they haven't spent large sums of money developing a branding strategy for that particular domain name. In fact, if it's only been a few months since they actually purchased or registered the domain, they might not have had enough time to develop their site or their overall strategy. This being the case, they may be more likely to settle a dispute with you. While many of us assume nothing but the worst, you may be pleasantly surprised to find a friendly person willing to settle for a solution that is fair to both of you. Keep your eyes and ears open and don't let your domain name get hijacked. Good luck! Internet Domain Registration Tips You're likely heard that it can be extremely difficult to find an available domain names on the Internet. A few years ago, that was certainly true when domain names were limited to a maximum of 22 characters. However, since 1999 the limit was raised to a total of 63 characters. You have nothing to fear! All of the good domain names are certainly not taken. All things considered, you want a domain name that effectively conveys your product and/or service. Perhaps the best way to think of it, is that your domain name acts as your online identity. This being the case you certainly want your name to be catchy, yet simple and easy to remember. Remember, because your domain name often provides the user with a first impression, you want to make sure that first impression is a great one! Here are some important do’s and don'ts when deciding which domain name to choose: Be Professional The best domain Web addresses sound extremely professional. While it is true that customers are often impressed by a quality product or service and its value, they also expect professionalism. So, you want your domain name to convey that message. If you're capable of coupling a quality product or service at a genuine value with the right domain name, you will not only prove that you're a consummate professional, but you will also be more likely to earn your customer's loyalty and continued trust. Get a “.com” Extension It is generally good practice to obtain a .com extension as opposed to a .net, .org, or .biz extension. Why? Because out of habit, most people automatically add a .com extension when entering a domain Web address into their computer. Now, of course, there is nothing wrong with owning other extensions, but if you own a domain with a .net extension without first owning the corresponding .com extension you will certainly begin to lose visitors. You might also want to try and register a .us domain extension as well. Although not as popular at the present time, you may benefit in the long term when things change. Use Keywords If your domain Web address contains common keywords, search engines will be more likely to find your Web site. This is how it works: search engines discover and list Web sites by sending out "spiders" which crawl from one Web site to another. The spiders go through every page while looking for and cataloging each keyword they find for later reference. Once they decide to list your site, the domain name is considered part of the ranking. So, if your domain Web address contains specific keywords, it will usually get a higher ranking. Don't Use Hyphens Unless a word or phrase in your domain Web address contains a natural hyphen (words that, when properly spelled, are hyphenated) be sure to leave all hyphens out. For most people, hyphens are harder to remember and you will lose those individuals who either forget to enter it into the domain Web address or who assumed it did not exist in the first place. Don't Misspell Anything! Always make sure the spelling and structure of your domain Web address is crystal clear. When you think about it, if a particular visitor heard of your site through word-of-mouth, perhaps from a friend, they're likely type in the incorrect address if you misspell your domain name. Consider this example, “www.UltimateEntrepreneursGuide.com” contains the obvious spelling of each word. However, “www.UltimateEntrepreneurzGuide.com” has spelling and a structure that is not intuitive. Replacing the "S” with a “Z” at the end of a word is fine if you are a pop rock band. However, if you're serious about your Web site, and you do it in your domain name, you will likely lose most of your visitors to your competition because of your incorrect spelling. Be Memorable Make sure that your domain Web address is easy to remember. It is difficult to remember, you will never get the kind of traffic you need to be really successful in the industry. Remember, always keep your potential visitors in mind and try to put yourself in their shoes when choosing the best domain Web address. A good way to begin is to write down as many potential addresses you can think of and then ask yourself, "would I remember this domain name if I heard it once on the bus?" If you answer “yes” you’ve likely found the best domain name for you. Best of all, registering your domain Web address is quick and easy. The entire process usually only takes about 10 minutes once you've found an available name that appeals to you. Remember, your name is your brand to be sure to always choose it wisely and with care. At the end of the day, choosing the right domain name could be the difference between total success and complete failure. Good luck! Building An E-Commerce Web Site Requires The Right Provider If you're in the market for building an e-commerce Web site, you’ll find endless companies willing to promise you absolutely everything. In fact, many of these companies go as far as to suggest that they will make your Web site look extremely professional and that they will use the most advanced Web services available on the market today. Many will promise to use Java or Flash in an attempt to sound as technologically advanced as possible. If you're lucky, some might even build a shopping cart for you! Other companies will tell you what a fantastic job they will do as your e-commerce Web host. Like any other company on the face of the planet, they will tell you that they have a great set of features available and that your hosting account will incorporate some of the most advanced technologies available. Like the others, they too will support the use of Java or Flash or any other technologies you desire when developing your e-commerce Web site. They might even provide a shopping cart with their e-commerce Web hosting services. But what do you really need to look for when choosing a company to start your online e-commerce business? Below are five important tips for choosing the right e-commerce Web host provider: Always make sure you choose a complete provider. When building an e-commerce Web site, many business owners often find themselves stuck in the middle between the requirements of the Web site on the one hand and the services needed from the e-commerce Web hosting company on the other. Ideally, the company you eventually choose should have the capability of designing and supporting your Web site in its entirety. If the design company is unable to host the site, can you imagine how difficult it might be to find a company willing to host the Web site while also being able to accommodate the specific details of that site? Selecting an e-commerce host that is able of providing you with both design and hosting services will save you time, frustration, and perhaps even money. Best of all, many design companies offer discounts on packages when you decide to have them host and build your e-commerce Web site. Always make sure you ask for examples of their work. When seriously considering any e-commerce Web host, ask if they can show you samples of similar sites they've previously created and/or hosted. If the company in question has done a site for your type of industry or business in the past, it is likely they will be able to provide you with what you will need for your e-commerce Web site today and into the future. In addition, always be sure to ask the company what else you will need before you get started. Often, companies will simply provide you with a design and hosting quote but nothing else. Remember, simply having a quote from the company does not necessarily mean that your idea will be turned into the finished product you had envisioned. For example, sometimes a company willing to build e-commerce Web sites will be unable to provide you with a payment gateway or merchant account that will accompany you're shopping cart. In the end, you might a have a great looking store online, but it will be unable to accept credit cards. What a disaster! This being the case, be sure to find out upfront if you will need to seek out other possible solutions above and beyond what the company is currently offering to do for you. Always be prepared to pay a respectable price. Although we often don't like to hear it, today "you get what you pay for" is undeniably true. The do-it-yourself tools and instant e-commerce Web hosting solutions on the Internet will never get you where you want to be, whether it be economically or conceptually. Remember, professional services and products are always distinguishable on the Internet. Should you decide to take the do-it-yourself route, it will be clear to everybody who visits your site that you did just that. So be prepared to pay a respectable price for top-quality products and services. In the end, it will only benefit you. Always pay attention to the conversations you have with your e-commerce Web hosting company. Make sure that all the questions you have are answered properly and that you get business related answers for business-related questions. In addition, always make sure the company is willing to pay attention to what exactly you are looking for and that they're willing to show you how they will make your vision a reality. If, at any time, company representatives are not answering your questions, or do not promise to put your vision into reality, it may be time to search for other e-commerce Web hosting companies. Of course, I'm not trying to suggest that conducting business online means you have to pay a tremendous price in order to reap the benefits of e-commerce. All and all, the Internet is generally geared towards helping businesses with quality products reach audiences which were originally out of reach. It goes without saying, that as a business owner, you want to receive the best possible service and/or product for the best possible price. Using these tips, I suspect you'll be better equipped to make the best decision possible. Which Web Hosting Platform Should You Choose?: From ASP to PHP and beyond. Operating systems for Web hosting: In order for computer hardware and software to work seamlessly together, an operating system (OS) software package is required. At the present time, the most popular operating systems for home computers include Windows and Macintosh. However, deciding which operating system to use for Web hosting is somewhat of a different matter because one has to become familiar with the various technologies that are currently available. Servers require special software for rendering Web pages on the Internet. The software is often referred to as "Web server software." In today's marketplace, the most common Web server software's include Internet Information Services (IIS) for Windows and Apache for all platforms (Windows, Linux, and Unix). Choosing the Right Operating System Windows Microsoft Windows is extremely popular for a number of reasons, chief among them is the fact that it is extremely user-friendly, thereby making the windows environment easy to navigate. As many of us know, virtually any task within the Windows environment can be accomplished by the simple point and click of the mouse as opposed to the writing of complex DOS commands. Given its user-friendly nature, Windows is generally recommended for novice users both because of its simple configurations and the extensive help available from either Windows or the Internet. If you plan to use Active Server Pages (ASP) or .NET as the server technology on IIS, than Windows is perhaps the best operating system to choose. In addition, if Microsoft Access or MS SQL Server is used as a database, Windows should also be used. Pros: It is undoubtedly true that server management is much easier within the Windows environment and most software vendors support Windows technology because of its popularity. In addition, Windows contains built-in software (including e-mail) which makes life somewhat easier. Cons: Despite its user-friendly nature and its undeniable popularity, the Windows server software is costly (approximately $300-$600 per license). With a piece like this, you will inevitably face higher Web hosting costs. In addition to this, the portability of applications to other platforms can be extremely difficult if using Windows server software. Finally, it has been suggested that Windows server software is potentially more vulnerable to security flaws and hacking. UNIX Often considered the father of the operating system, UNIX has been used for servers over the course of the past few decades. It proclaims itself to be the most stable and reliable system available on the market today. Currently, it is being used in almost all large and highly complex computer systems around the world. Hardware that is aptly suited for UNIX is provided by vendors such as IBM, HP, and Sun Microsystems. Purchasing servers from these vendors in particular is an extremely costly affair (servers often costing thousands of dollars each). However, at the present time, a free version of UNIX-referred to as FreeBSD-is now available to those who have small scale Web hosting needs. The FreeBSD software operates on a cheaper server that is manufactured by the Intel Corporation. Cons: When it comes to large-scale implementation of UNIX servers, cost can be an important factor. Nevertheless, FreeBSD is becoming increasingly popular because it is versatile and is a free means by which a UNIX platform can be established. However, server configuration and the maintenance of the server requires special knowledge and technical skills. Moreover, software for this platform is not as common when compared to Windows. Linux Linux has become increasingly popular as a Web hosting platform, primarily because of its cost (it's free), open source, and its support for a variety of technologies including PHP and MySQL. Pros: Overall, a UNIX environment will provide better stability, reliability, and performance when compared to Windows. Most importantly, the operating system software is entirely free, so Web hosting costs are subsequently very low. Support for the most popular free PHP hosting, free MySQL hosting, free ASP hosting, and free CGI hosting is also available. Given its popularity, a lot of the support users require is now readily available on the Internet. Cons: As mentioned before, server configuration and maintenance requires special knowledge and technical skills that are perhaps not available to everyone. Lastly, software for this platform is not as common or as widely available as it is for Windows. What To Look For In The Best Web Host Now that your domain name is registered, it's time to find an affordable Web site host. But the marketplace is crowded, and finding a Web hosting offer that suits your needs is not always easy. In fact, with services being offered from anywhere between $3.95 to $395 per month they can be downright confusing. Some companies claim to be the top Web hosting company in the market while others advertise themselves as offering “cheap” Internet hosting. Still others offer to host your site for free (that is, if you're willing to allow them to advertise on your site). Most Web hosting offers include a range of services, ranging from inexpensive packages on the one hand to some of the top Web hosting packages on the other. Of course, when choosing your hosting plan you’ll have to be sure that you'll be provided with enough disk space for your Web site at a price that is entirely within your budget. But knowing what to watch for can be increasingly difficult. When you begin your search, consider the following points: Usage Limitations: Many paid hosting plans will actually limit how much data you can transfer to and from their servers in a given month. For example, if you were to have transferred 1 GB or 2 GB of data, a company may actually begin to charge you per megabyte for any additional traffic on their server! If you not paying attention, that can get very expensive. How Much Bandwidth Do You Need?: Answering that question can be somewhat difficult because it depends on how busy your site is over a given period of time. Sites that cater to over 100 visitors per day transfer less than 1 GB per month. But what if you want to offer your users something far more extensive? Perhaps a video clip or an MP3 file? It is entirely possible that you will break the bandwidth barrier. Just something you need to consider when sifting through endless offers looking for the best Web host possible. When looking for the best Web host, pick a plan according to your anticipated rate of traffic. If you're unsure as to how much traffic you'll be getting, try estimating it, but be sure to watch your usage carefully during the first few months. You don't want to be caught off guard and be penalized by the Web hosting company. There are articles available to help you calculate your estimated bandwidth-try this one: If you plan on operating small information sites, somewhere between 50 MB and 30 GB of bandwidth should meet your needs. However, if you're intending to use multimedia technologies including video, audio, Flash, or MP3, you may have to consider something much larger when searching for the best Web hosting offer. PS: If the company claims to offer you "unlimited" bandwidth or transfer, they are not telling you the truth. There's actually no such thing as "unlimited" bandwidth in the industry. Be careful, even if they claim to be the best Web hosting company in the marketplace, they may not always tell you the truth. What about Script and Extra Features?: If your Web site will be using SQL databases, CGI scripts, FrontPage extensions, SSI, or ASP be sure the Web hosting offer includes support for these extra technologies. Although generally offered by some of the best Web hosting companies, many of these higher-end technologies and development tools do not come standard. When push comes to shove, make sure you have your own CGI-bin and SSI capabilities because you will certainly need them. Many companies offering paid hosting will offer you extra features, including mailing list management programs, sub domains, auto responders, and submission to search engines which can be very handy when it comes time to design and operate your site. Whether you're looking for the top Web hosting company, or one that offers affordable Web site hosting, look to see whether or not these features are included. File Transfer Options: Free Web host FTP access is crucial. When it comes time to upload your Web site to their server, you want to be able to do so as many times as you wish without being penalized. As you can imagine, free FTP uploads can make life much easier. If, however, you prefer to use FrontPage or a Web interface for uploading your new site files, make sure your Web hosting offer includes such opportunities. Mail Options: Just how many e-mail accounts do you require for your domain name? It can be tough to say, especially in the early stages of development. This being the case, simply estimate the number of mailboxes you will need (perhaps estimating one mailbox per employee in your company?). If, however, you are the only employee in your company you should be sure to add extra mailboxes for functions such as sales, support, info, and feedback. Of course, don't forget to include one for the Webmaster! When considering mail options, be sure that you have catchall capability so that you won’t miss any e- mail sent to your domain. In addition to this, be sure the company offering your paid hosting will permit mail forwarding options. Finally, consider how you want to receive all your e-mail. If you want to use Microsoft Outlook, you'll require POP3 access. Of course, if you're going to be spending a lot of time on the road, you might also want to look into gaining access to your e-mail via the Internet. These ideas, and those provided above, are just some the things you should consider when looking for the best Web host to suit your needs. It’s Not Hard To Find Free Web Hosting, But Is It Worth It? Cheap Internet hosting is not hard to find. But what about free Web hosting? Actually, it’s not uncommon either. In fact, legions of people believe it to be the fastest and most cost effective way to get their material online. Now, if you are one of millions of people who create and post Web pages on a routine basis, you’re probably already fully aware of one simple fact: It is almost impossible to find enough space for all your important content. From graphics to multimedia content, even a relatively small Web site can quickly max out the storage capacity made available to you. And, what if you need a way to mirror your site on a limited budget? Acquiring extra space isn’t always easy and getting it from ISPs that are not offering free Web hosting services can be expensive. So, what do you do? One possible solution involves finding free hosting services that may also include free domain registration. Over the past 3 to 4 years, the number of companies offering free domain registration and free Web hosting services has increased considerably. Now, generally speaking, free Web hosting services have a lot going for them. The fact that they are totally free is an obvious advantage, allowing you to store your glorious Web site on their servers for absolutely nothing! For those of us who simply can’t afford to pay inflated fees for a complete Web hosting package or who access the Internet using a public terminal or FreeNet, finding free hosting services is nothing short of a blessing. Now, depending on which company is providing you with your free Web site hosting, you may be allotted anywhere from 3 to 35 MB of total storage space. Not bad, especially when compared to what most other ISPs will offer you for their standard fee. Free hosting is also really convenient, because you can usually achieve almost everything you need to do with a company offering free hosting services. For your convenience, many of these companies offer an online HTML editor and a useful file management tool to get you up and running. Of course there are usually limits to what you can do with those tools. Most file management tools only let you delete or rename the files and nothing else while the HTML editors range from simplistic workspaces to complex, full-fledged graphical interfaces. What’s more, often these free Web site hosts make it easy to transfer your files from your home or office computer to their servers (of course, you can always use FTP to get the job done). For those of you who are relatively experienced Web users, the learning curve is virtually non-existent – just do what you’ve always been doing! So, while some companies offer cheap Internet hosting, others offer free hosting! If you can find a company offering free Web hosting and/or free domain registration, take a serious look at what they have to offer. How to Host Unlimited Domains Under One Account Imagine you operated numerous Websites, and imagine if each one of them had their own separate domain name! The cost of maintaining separate hosting accounts can quickly add up. Even if your ISP offers you a typical add-on domain feature, their fees will mount soon enough. So, I bet you’re wondering, “is it possible to host unlimited domain names under one account?” Indeed, it is. Hosting multiple domains can be achieved by opening up a reseller account. In the past, reseller accounts were created so that Web designers would be able to offer their many clients Web hosting services; so they could become a one-stop-shop for all their client’s Web needs. But you see, these days you don’t actually need to be a reseller to take advantage of multiple domain Web hosting. Reseller accounts that allow you to host unlimited domains are usually slightly more expensive. But, what one has to remember is that when all is said and done, it is a far cheaper route to take when you consider how much you will be paying in add-on fees in order to host multiple domains via traditional ISP packages. In the end, reseller accounts allow you to make the most efficient use of your bandwidth and space. When choosing a reseller account to accommodate your multiple domain hosting needs, consider the following: Make sure that the company promising you unlimited domain hosting will actually do just that! Verify that there is no limit to the number of domains you will be allowed to host. Also, inquire as to whether or not you can have your primary Web site hosted for free so that you don’t have to use up any of your bandwidth or space in your hosting plan. For example, if you are a reseller your primary site will be your business Web site and the space and bandwidth you’re concerned about will be set aside for your clients. If, on the other hand, you are not a reseller, this will allow you to make one of your sites a primary one (usually this site will be the largest of them all or perhaps the most popular one). Finally, ask whether you can upgrade your plan without incurring any additional costs. Exactly how much space and bandwidth will you need? First, decide how many sites you will be hosting and how many pages each site is likely to have. Then, think carefully about how many visits those sites will attract. For example, if you intend to host 10 sites with 20 pages each, at an average size of 50KB per page and approximately 100 visits per day, you will need 10MB of space (10 x 20 x 50KB) and 1.5GB of bandwidth per month (10 x 100 x 50KB x 30). If you’re worried about the price of all this, there are reseller accounts out there for as little as $10/month (of course there are also accounts out there for hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month!). Like most things, the cost will depend on your needs and the company providing you with the ability to host multiple domains. If you’re looking to host unlimited domains, this may be the best way to do it, just remember to ask the right questions and shop around for the best possible deal. What Are The 5 Characteristics Of A Top Web Hosting Company? Strangely, many business today choose their Web hosting company solely on the basis of price or the name of the company. Taking the price into consideration is always a good move, especially given how challenging it can be to create and maintain a profitable company these days. But when it comes to making a decision on the basis of a company’s name, things get a bit more complicated. In fact, people sometimes end up paying for inferior services because, at some point, they saw the company’s name on the Internet or in an advertisement. Choosing the best Web hosting company for your needs on the basis of these two criteria is a mistake because, neither the cost nor the company’s name are real indicators of service quality. To help you find the top Web hosting company for your needs, we have compiled a list of important characteristics (in no particular order): Quality Support: Top notch Web hosting companies provide quick and consistent support so that questions can be answered and problems solved in a short period of time. In addition, the advice offered by their technicians should not differ from one person to the next (of course, this is not as easy to detect when looking for the best Web host). Scalability: When push comes to shove, a top Web hosting company should have the ability to grow as you grow. So, when the time comes to find more storage space or access more bandwidth, your company should be there for you. Site Management: It is also crucial that you make sure your host is capable of offering you the tools and resources you will need to manage your site properly (remember, you’re going to be transferring, adding, and deleting files and email accounts quite often). Superior Network: The best we hosting company should always have a reliable network already in place. What makes a network reliable you ask? (1) Speed – multiple servers with multiple points of connection; (2) Bandwidth – the network should have several backbone servers and high quality routers; (3) Security – a good network always has backup power generators and quality firewall software; (4) Stability – there should be a reasonable number of users per server and it should have a reliable operating system and server software. If your prospective hosting company doesn’t have a reliable and secure network, it’s possible your site could be off-line for long periods of time and your sensitive data could be in danger or lost. Software Support: Always ask what software is installed on their servers so that, in the future, you are not caught off guard. It is often the case that some hosts are unable to support CGI scripts while others lack the software needed to support ASP of FrontPage. Remember, software support always varies from one host to the next. So, before you make a decision about which is the best Web host for you, make sure they have the software you’re in need of already installed. It goes without saying that this list is far from complete. It is, however, a great place to start when considering which one of the many companies out there is the best hosting company for you. It might seem strange that price is not even among the 5 characteristics we identified. This wasn’t a mistake. You see, price is becoming less of an issue these days because many of the hosting companies out there offer their services within a similar price bracket. The top Web hosting company is the one that can promise that your site will be accessible and working properly ever single day. Of course, if you find two or more companies that satisfy your needs, then by all means choose the one that does it for less! If this happens to you, then you’ve likely found the best Web host for you. Good luck!
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