Determining Your Web Hosting Needs
Once you’ve decided that an identity on the Web is what you or your business needs, you have to ensure that you go about the technical aspects of setting up a website and buying web hosting properly. The most important part of determining the kind of web hosting you need is understanding your requirements: getting a web hosting package that does not provide features that your site will need can be disastrous when it comes to the development stage. Similarly, buying an expense web hosting package that has features you don’t need can end up costing you a lot more money than necessary.
What kind of web site are you building?
The answer to this question is very important in helping you to figure out exactly what kind of web hosting package you’re going to need. Is your site going to be an e-commerce portal for your business? If so, you will need advanced functionality like databases and scripting support. If, however, your site will be “static”, for example a personal blog or collection of hobby information, you may not need these features.
If you are planning on using your site to sell anything, whether you’re a business or an individual, the most important part of setting up your online presence is finding the right payment provider. This is a company that handles credit card transactions on your behalf (usually requiring a percentage payment), and allows users to pay directly through your website. Whenever a website collects sensitive personal information (such as credit card numbers or shipping addresses), a secure connection (sometimes referred to as an SSL or encrypted connection) should be provided to minimise the chance of malicious individuals stealing the information. This is a feature that will need to be provided by your web hosting company.
You should also consider the software that will drive your site. Dynamic sites (ones that display information using programs or scripts instead of basic, or “static”, files) are normally needed if you want to use databases to store information about your site. For example, you may want all the products you sell to be kept in a database that you can edit. The software on your website can then use this database to display the different products on offer, manage payment, invoicing, and automate a lot of tedious tasks. Features in a web hosting package to enable dynamic sites include PHP, Perl or ASP scripting and MySQL or Oracle databases.
How much storage space would you need?
Static websites that comprise of a small number of pages and images don’t require much storage space at all. For many simple websites, 50 megabytes of storage space is more than enough. However, if your website is going to incorporate very large quantities of information or media-rich content (such as images, videos or music), you will need more space than this.
You should also remember that storage space does not always include the space allowed for databases. Sometimes, databases are given separate, individual storage limits – that is, just because your web hosting provider gives you 500 megabytes of storage, this doesn’t necessarily mean your database can be this large.
How much data transfer allowance would you need?
Data transfer allowance is the quantity of data that is allowed to be downloaded from your website. Web hosting providers normally impose data transfer limits because the more data that is transferred, the more they have to pay for their connections to the Internet.
It is very easy to calculate how much data transfer your website is likely to use. Simply look at the average size of one page of information (text, images and any other content) and multiply it by the number of times people will (or do), on average, visit the site on a daily basis. You can then multiply this by 30 for a monthly data transfer estimate.
For example, say the average page on your site, including images, is 10 kilobytes. You may estimate that around 20 people per day will find your site and visit it – this means that your daily data transfer would be around 200 kilobytes (10 x 20). For a month, this would come to roughly 6,000 kilobytes, or approximately 6 megabytes.
A problem you have probably already noticed with this is estimating data transfer usage before actually having your site online. Although there’s no way to accurately do this, the type of website you have can give you a good idea of how much data transfer it will require. Message boards and blogging sites, for instance, often cause a lot of data transfer because users often return to read and reply to new messages. A corporate website designed to profile a company, however, would require less data transfer allowance, as users are much less likely to return often, and if they did, their browsers probably wouldn’t have to download much because the content would be cached on their computer.
Web hosting companies offer a lot of different data transfer allowance options, but for a completely fresh site, you should look to not spend too much money on data transfer allowance at first – most, if not all, web hosting companies allow you to upgrade your data transfer allowance at any time, so a sudden surge in users (after an advertising campaign, for example) can be accommodated for easily.
What access will you need?
Getting files uploaded onto your website is, as you can imagine, a crucial part of running the website. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is probably the most common way of uploading files to web hosts, and even an affordable web hosting plan would support this. Other technologies such as SSH or Telnet are less common, and you may have to pay more for a web hosting plan that includes them.
You will also want to think about how your web hosting will handle e-mails. Practically all web hosting plans provide an SMTP/POP3 mail server that allows you to send and receive e-mail using addresses that end in your website name (for example, “firstname.lastname@example.org”). They often also provide web-based e-mail access so that you can check the e-mail wherever you are.
About the Author: Danny Vong is a writer for Website-hosting-plans.net, the BEST web hosting comparison portal on the net! With all the major web hosting companies reviewed and rated and listed in the top 10 hosting companies list.
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