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Six things to look for when choosing a web hosting plan
If you have never owned, operated or set up a website, then it can be confusing when it is time to choose a hosting firm or a hosting plan for your new website. The best way to deal with this confusion is to learn as much as you can about web hosting and then ask questions to your prospective web hosting firm about any points that are still not clear for you. To help you out, here are six factors to consider when choosing a hosting plan:
1. Disc Space - This is the amount of space on the server that you will have for your website files. In recent years the cost of disc space has fallen, and most web hosting plans allow you ample space, especially if you are only hosting one website. The files for a normal website should not take up more than 50 mb. However if you plan to host mp3 files or an extensive image collection then it could be much higher. In any case many web hosting plans now allow you several gigabytes of storage.
2. Bandwidth - How much data transfer does your web hosting plan allow you to make in a month? Whenever someone views one of your web pages she is in effect downloading the html file to her computer along with all the image files. If you have a lot of traffic and if your site has large files for downloading or streaming, then you will need a good quota of data transfer every month. It is hard to generalize about bandwidth needs, but many websites hardly use more than one gigabyte of data transfers per month. Once again, as with disc space, many web hosting plans now allow several gigabytes of transfer per month.
3. How many domains can you host? - If you plan to construct more than one website then you should choose a hosting plan that allows you to accommodate more than one domain on your section of the server. Who knows, you may want to set up a satellite website once your first website is established? If you think you need more than one website then look for a plan that allows multiple domain hosting.
4. Email facilities - One of the big advantages of having your own website is the ability to set up email addresses, forwarders and auto responders for yourself and for other members of your organization. Check to see how many email-addresses you can set up, either as POP accounts, which can be read online or downloaded with an email client such as Eudora or Outlook Express, or as aliases that forward to existing email accounts. Again, as with bandwidth and disc space most hosting plans allow you many more email accounts than you will ever use.
5. Control Panel - Before you buy a hosting plan, ask to look at a demo of the control panel which you will be using to administer your site. The control panel is the place where you can check the visitor statistics, add or delete email accounts, install scripts and make other technical changes for your website. The control panel should be easy to use and you should take some time to understand what it is all about before purchasing your hosting plan.
6. Are there pre-installed scripts? - The Internet is becoming more interactive, and you will probably want to add elements that will allow your visitors to contact you or even add content. For example, you may want to install a blog on your site or a bulletin board. It can be quite difficult to install these items if you are not a technical "nerd." However, many hosting firms now provide instant one-click installation of the programs that drive blogs, bulletin boards, guest books and similar interactive elements. If you plan to use any of these interactive features, make sure that the hosting plan that you are getting offers the possibility of easily installing these items.
These are the some of the main things to consider when you are choosing your web hosting plan. But remember one rule of thumb: if you are not sure about any of the features of the hosting plan then ask your web-hosting-firm to explain it to you in plain English.
About the Author: Fei Lim owns and operates Flizard Technologies , http://www.flizard.com, a firm that provdes web hosting services, sells domain names, develops web applications, and designs websites.