The first step that you require to take after creating a website is to get it on the internet, and here you are faced with three alternatives. You could either host the site on your computer, or host it on a server. The third option is getting someone else to host it for you. The first two preferences are practical and suit those with fast connections or other business-oriented sites. Maintaining such a web server requires constant monitoring and attention and you need a very fast connection to keep running it.
So the easiest alternative would be to use a web-hosting company. They are designed to put up your site using their host php website. server while you could access it via FTP to upload your files on the site. Web-hosting is of three types- free, paid and dedicated. Dedicated hosting is the costliest option available and is suitable only for sites that entail such attention. Your website is hosted by the company on their own server with their connection.
So the other alternatives are of course, free or paid. And the most common question asked is that why should i pay for something that I can obtain for free?
But paid web-hosting does score over free hosting on several counts:
There are better features provided in your hosting package, technical support is prompt, responsible and probably better, the net connection is faster as compared to free hosts, there wont be unwanted advertisements on your page and most importantly your needs shall be catered to as you pay for the services rendered.
Some free hosts do not place their banner on your website, yet in most cases the services are not good enough. Some free web hosts have brilliant features but the tech-support is unreliable! For a small site, or if you are just venturing into this field go for a free web-host in the initial stages.
The general features that are offered by web-hosts are listed below, but by no means is the list exhaustive. These are a few terms you need to be acquainted with to get your site hosted-
- URL/ Address- you need a URL address only if you do not have a domain name already.
- Space- as a web page most sites require very little space, and 5MB is adequate for a small site, which will take over a hundred pages. Most of the times graphics take up about 35KB of space, but if it is a graphics intensive site, or one featuring downloads, then you will need around 15-20MB. Unlimited space though offered by many web-hosts is not required as such.
- Bandwidth/ transfer- this is a monthly affair, and accounts for the total number of files transferred from your site in a month. The best option being unlimited bandwidth. You need no less than 1GB per month for average sites.
- CGI-BIN- this is required when you run interactive scripts like guest-books, counters etc. These sites can be remotely hosted while they carry the banners from the site that presents them.
- SSI- a special function feature, which lets you maneuver the server to include something on your page. It could be anything like simple text or CGI generated code etc.
- My SQL/PHP/ASP Support- if you desire to maintain a database on your site you need database formats like these. ASP generates key sites often.
- Technical Support- paid hosts provide better technical support than free hosts as is obvious. Web-sites require constant monitoring and in case of any problem you should get support from some quarter or the other. You can opt for e-mail, phone or fax support.
- E- mail- particularly if you have a domain name, most web-hosts will convey e-mails for you. A POP3 mail service permits you to connect to their server and get your own messages rather than have them readdress those to you.
- FrontPage Extensions- these are some extensions that you require if you employ Microsoft FrontPage to construct your web-site. You can also include FrontPage components in your site.
- SSL/Secure Server- this is essential to ensure secure ordering facilities on your web-site.
- Statistics/ Log Files- this section provides you with information about your users, like what files have been downloaded and which of the pages have been accessed.
- FTP Accounts- with anonymous FTP, users can log in to an area of your site and download files. These allow you to upload files on your website.
About Paid-hosting: most free can be upgraded to ad-free hosting for a minimal monthly fee and usually with better technical support. So you can search out a better web-host and dump those unwanted advertisements. It usually costs $5 to $75 per month, as compared to the dedicated servers which cost around $150 per month.
If you are paying your web-host you must enquire about certain things like, a list of the sites hosted by them. You could get in touch with some of these sites and verify the web-host details from the site-owners. And do ask about the technical support they are willing to provide you with as it the most important service they can render.
Lastly, always read the fine print. Go over the terms and conditions, since it has been seen that some free web-hosts claim ownership of the copyright of your page and bar you from advertising on your own website! Keep in mind the restrictions and stipulations before venturing to put up you website on the internet.