The number of websites on the Internet have grown exponentially over the past fifteen years. All these websites must be hosted on a web server somewhere. The website hosting market is therefore huge and forever expanding. There are such a large number of web hosts that it’s sometimes confusing for a newcomer. Let us give you some guidelines in this regard.

As a jumping off point, you should never pay for something that you do not need. If yours is a private site with a number of holiday pictures, you will most probably be satisfied with what you can get from a free hosting account. Perhaps your ISP offers you a couple of megabytes free space. If not, you don’t have to go far on the Internet before running into a free hosting company.

There are a couple of disadvantages to a free hosting account though. One of the biggest for a business website is that you are normally not able to use a domain name of your own. You are usually limited to a subdomain of the hosting company. If yours is a personal website that will be somewhat less of a problem. What many people dislike about a free hosting though, is the fact that the hosting company usually displays banner ads at the top of your pages. This is how they make money.

If free hosting is too restrictive for you, then you should look at paid hosting. With a paid hosting account you can host your own domain name. You will also get a much larger amount of disk space and data transfer than with a free hosting account. On top of that you will be able to use programming language such as PHP, Perl (cgi) and javascript.

There is something you should be aware of as far as bandwidth and disk space are concerned. Many hosting companies follow a practice that is called ‘overselling’. They advertise unlimited space and bandwidth, but if your website really uses a lot of these, they will refer you to the small print where it says that there is in fact a limit to what you can use.

It’s probably better to buy the amount of bandwidth and disk space that you really need. Unless you plan to upload hordes of videos or thousands of pictures, your website is unlikely to need more than 1Gb of space. To provide you with an idea of how far 1Gb can go: it’s sufficient to host more than 10 000 web pages if they don’t contain more than one or two postcard sized pictures each.

If you plan to sell anything on your website, you will most likely need facilities for a shopping card. Most hosting companies provide that. If you just link to an outside payment processor where the customer will provide his credit card details, you don’t have a problem. If you want to accept credit cards on your own website, you will also need a secure server, a dedicated IP number and a security certificate.

Not all website hosting companies offer the same quality of service. For a business website, uptime is very important. Attempt to find a company, therefore, that offers a guarantee for uptime in excess of 99.7%. They should also have knowledgeable support staff on duty around the clock, 7 days a week.

Get the exclusive low down on how to pinpoint the right web hosting plan to suit your requirements and budget instantly in our comprehensive Gossimer overview.

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