So you want a website. You already have the design and content, and you think you’re ready to go. But there’s one final step that is vitally important: getting your site on the Web. What good are all of your fancy graphics if no one can see them? What you need is a web host.
The first thing you need to do is determine your requirements. You need to know these before you sign up for anything – you wouldn’t want to get what you think is a great plan, only to find out that your site simply wont fit.
1. Disk Space
This is pretty simple. Find out how much space all of the files on your site take up, then round up to make sure you have room for growth. Most sites without a lot of videos, graphics, or downloadable files will fit in 50MB of space – but check your site to be sure.
2. Data Transfer
Your host needs to know how much data they are going to have transfer each month – that it, how many people are going to look at your pages and how much data those pages hold. You can estimate this by multiplying your average page size by the number of hits you expect per month. As always, make sure that you leave plenty of extra room for growth – you don’t want to be paying extra charges.
3. Programming Tools
Make sure that your host will support everything your site uses, from PHP to videos. You don’t want to get your site up, only to discover that those clips that were so integral to the content wont play.
Some hosting services will include a domain name in the plan, but it’s generally a good idea to go with a separate company, in case you ever feel like switching hosts. Make sure that you website name doesn’t have anything in front or behind it – you want people typing in your domain name, not the name of the hosting company. For example, some site let you make your own website, like freewebs.com – but your website domain will always be sitename.freewebs.com. Not a good idea.
Finding your Host
Okay, so you have a domain name, and you know your requirements. It’s time to go find that host.
Make sure you go with a company that’s been around for a while and has a lot – but not too many – users. Don’t go with some obscure company that is promising great results for next to nothing – it’s probably a scam.
Finally, make sure that the host’s servers are located near the area from which you expect the most visitors. Sometimes, a greater distance means a slower connection.
Shopping for a website host is pretty much like shopping for everything else. Make sure you know what you need ahead of time, and be aware that if its too good to be true, it probably is. Good luck!