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A Guide to choosing a host

Come across a term you do not fully understand ? Visit  our glossary by clicking here 

Hosting is available in various forms..... But can be broken down into two main types, which can be classified as free hosting and paid for hosting. Please read both as some things are common throughout. 

With respect to Adult Content Please ensure you read the terms and conditions of the host to see if it is allowed. 

On the same note I cannot overstress the importance of reading and READING AGAIN the hosting company's terms and conditions. If you break them you could see your site disappear without any notice (all that hard work gone) and what is more you could also find yourself subject to legal proceedings. 

 

    

FREE HOSTING

" There is no such thing as a free ride ! "

Around the web there are a lot of opportunities to have your site hosted for free. You pay for that privilege by various means such as advertising placed on your pages.
FAIR ENOUGH? Maybe but looked at from another angle You are providing them with free content and all your time and hard work to make their site bigger.

That said it is a good way for the beginner to test the water so to speak with out incurring lots of costs. Infact many of the larger sites out there started off as a 1 or 2 page homepage site.

The first choice is to look at any free web space provided by your ISP . Quite often you will find you have something like a 5Mb to 20 Mb website provided free. ( yes but in order to keep your space you are tying yourself to them  and their domain name) The main advantage is that  you normally have clear web space without advertising all over your site. 
The things to look  for............
ISP's do not normally allow the use of cgi scripts although a lot of ISP's now have various scripts you can use preinstalled.
They do not normally allow ADULT sites
They normally have a limit on the number of visitors to your site although most do offer an upgrade to paid for hosting.
So once again read their terms to see what you get and what you can do with your space.

Next up is those sites that provide you with free web space in return for advertising placed on your pages.
These sites vary so much from those that just place a header to your pages to those that use  those annoying pop up windows and headers footers and watermarks. There might be ways for the experienced web designer to over ride these features but by doing so your site is likely to disappear just like that.

The things to look  for............
Firstly look to see what they do on some of their current sites (but remember they can change that as they wish)
Next look at the speed of accessing pages on their free hosted sites at peak times (not their own pages they are likely to be on a different server)
Next look to see if they provide FTP access (an added bonus if they allow telnet as well)
Do they allow you to run cgi scripts?
What are their restrictions on bandwidth?

Tip for Adult sites   Some of the AVS services will host your sites for free. Normally it is good quality hosting but you will find restrictions in place such as the amount of advertising you can carry, not linking to other AVS protected sites etc.  (they take your referral fee or a cut of your commission again No Free Ride but do normally promote your site some to some extent)

Summary ........
Read the terms and conditions see what you can and can not do.
See if you can get any support at all.
Visit some sites to see what you get.

TIP

Always keep a complete backup copy of your web pages on your computer and another copy on a disc or tape ! 
Those system crashes always happen when your website server has just crashed and you have lost all those hours of work. 



PAID FOR HOSTING

Remember you only get what you pay for !

Paid for hosting can be broken down into three main categories 
1:) Virtual Hosting
2:) Dedicated Hosting
3:) CoLocated Hosting

Virtual Hosting ......
Virtual hosting means you generally share a server with other websites. You maybe offered a virtual domain name such as http://www.yourname.hostname.com
Or the opportunity to have your own domain name hosted for you.
You will find you are offered all sorts of packages from a very basic
starter level up to a professional level with all sorts of added benefits such as secure server access, mysql databases, built in shopping carts etc. 

Dedicated Hosting .....
Contrary to most peoples idea of what dedicated hosting is it refers to the fact that you have dedicated bandwidth on the server NOT that you have a server to yourself, unless maybe you are using all the bandwidth the server can cope with. (This is the general rule although some providers might give you your own server box)

CoLocated Hosting ....
This type of hosting means you can place your own server in the company's facilities or maybe they will provide you with a server. Again here you normally pay for the availability of bandwidth for your exclusive use. 

Things to look at ...
As stated before you only tend to get what you pay for.  Sure you can get all sorts of cheap hosting or so it seems on the face of it.
Read the package deals thoroughly and also check again the terms and conditions.
Time spent now choosing the right host can save a lot of time moving around from company to company when you find it is not as good as it seems.
I now always check to see if there is a phone number available first and foremost. Then try ringing it during normal working hours to see if you get a human or an answer phone
Next I try sending an email to see the sort of response time. These two tests tend to show up what sort of customer service to expect.

Next up look at the pricing Is there a setup fee? Now do not let this deter you it can mean you get better service in the first instance. The cost I really look at is upgrading or down grading your chosen package. You do not want to be paying out large fees for this service.
Now the all important thing BANDWIDTH you will be offered so much bandwidth with your hosting package. Where a company states unlimited bandwidth read their Terms AGAIN you will normally find an upper limit somewhere or a statement saying you might have to move to a different service. Now look at the charges for excess bandwidth usage these can be quite high with some companies.

Other things to look at is do they make backups and how frequently?
What charges do they make for support issues. (those that charge tend to have faster responses )
Does the package support all your future needs or can you upgrade to include them?
With dedicated and collocated services do you have to manage your own DNS etc.,
What sort of charges do they make for server administration, will they reboot the server for you free of charge, do they make backups at all for you or is there an additional charge.

ADULT SITES again see if it is allowed by the company. Some companies do not allow any such sites others have different packages for Adult sites due to the large amounts of graphics.

WE HAVE T1 connection to the internet. A statement that is totally useless!
The speed of your server is totally reliant on how much of the T1 or whatever
is being used. You can only send so many packets of data down the line at once so do the final check below.

The final check if you have found a suitable company is to ask them for some sites that they host and go and do some surfing and check out how responsive the server is and page load times Be fair though if it is a large page it will take time to  load.

FINAL SUMMARY

Do fully read the terms and conditions THEY WILL APPLY and be ENFORCED
The cheapest is nearly never the best
What support do you get
What are the hidden extras

We hope this guide has helped you in your search for a suitable host

Come across a term you do not fully understand ? Visit  our glossary by clicking here 


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