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    Web Site Hosting "Top 5 Steps to Choosing Your Perfect Host" by Eva Almeida

Features

In my opinion, the features a hosting service offers is the most important factor when choosing between options. For large interactive sites, I look for a host that offers SSI (to streamline maintenance of the site), FTP access, POP email accounts, and your own CGI-bin for running discussion forums, forms, mailing lists etc. Top hosts also realize the importance of including a detailed web site statistics program in the hosting package.

Look for multiple email addresses, A CGI-BIN to run cgi programs, a SMTP server address of your own, high bandwidth allowance but be wary of "unlimited" since it may slow down the server you are sharing other sites with (6 GB is approx 600,000 hits). E-mail forwarding, Autoresponders, FTP access, web-based control panel are also features to look for if you are building an interactive site.

Examples of this type of hosting are as follows:

  • Globat.com 1000 MB Hosting & 50 GB Transfer for $7.50/mo. including webmail, 1000 POP email accounts, FrontPage, MySQL, FLASH and more.


  • WarriorPro.com: a hosting package for Internet Marketers... includes business level hosting account with Host4Profit.com (300MB), membership to the online forum WarriorForum.com, A complete Ad Tracking System with TrackThisHit.com and a subscription to the radical GuruKiller.com all for $24.95/month.

Platform

There are currently three main platforms to choose from: Unix, Linux, Windows 2000, and Windows NT.

Unix is generally more reliable and more affordable, suitable for most sites. If you're using the site for email or as a personal site Unix is definitely more affordable. Windows NT is more appropriate if you need ODBC for a database-driven site, and Windows NT works better with Microsoft Frontpage. However you can still build database-driven sites using PHP on Unix if the host supports it.

Support

This is such a critical issue when looking for a webhost. I have learned this from experience! Make sure that the hosting company offers 24 hour technical support via email and a toll-free phone #. Even phone the support number several times throughout the day to see how responsive they are before you order their hosting package. Don't wait until your email or site is down to discover that it is impossible to reach your host. You need a lightning fast response from your host when you run into trouble with your site! Ask people you trust who they use as a host and whether they have had troubles contacting support.

Price

Surprisingly, most people think price is a priority and settle for a free host. When those sites go under, so does yours! It has happened to me several times when I started out and I won't do it again for my main domains. Mini-sites are fine with lower cost hosting services such as DigitalSpace.net since it won't matter if the site has to be moved quickly when it is only several pages long and you are not relying on them for your primary email address.

Low cost hosting options: http://www.doteasy.com
http://www.digitalspace.net

TrendSetting

The majority of hosts compete on price and standard features such as bandwidth allowances and webspace. Once in awhile, you come across a "trendsetter" that is clearly above the rest of the competition due to its unique capacity to look beyond and see what their customers desire; then they create special benefits and features to accommodate them. An example of an innovative hosting service is Site Build-It at: ==> http://design.sitesell.com/buildit/

The developers of SiteBuild-It recognized the need for online small business people such as ebook publishers to focus on publishing ebooks instead of having to worry about spending precious time designing and maintaining the site, keeping up with search engine submissions, etc. You simply upload your graphics and content to the control panel and the Site Manager literally does the rest. All links are tracked going in and out of your site. Each page automatically gets submitted to search engines. It is the perfect medium for building theme-based content sites to sell your own books (or any product or service for that matter.) I have two sites hosted with them and it is amazing what a timesaver their service is. They are currently working on a system that will allow you to sell your products directly from your domain using your own merchant account (will be included in the hosting price!)

Definitely my host of choice for busy clients who don't have time to manage every detail of their sites... the features in this hosting are second to none. Period. ==> http://design.sitesell.com/buildit/

Lastly, you can visit a hosting review site to help you choose your perfect host. Examples of sites include:

Good luck on your search and remember, you can always switch hosts if you aren't satisfied!



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