Anyone who wants a website needs a hosting service. It provides them with space on the web through a server that is constantly connected to the Internet. Although it is possible to build a site without a host, it will not be accessible over the web. The hosting company is what gives the website its own unique Internet address where it can be reached by other people.
Paid Vs. Free
There are thousands of hosting companies available, ranging in price from free to hundreds of dollars a year. Although it may be tempting to choose a free service, it is important to realize that free and paid services are not the same. A free service generally requires people to display random ads on their site, while a paid service gives them control over whether they want to include advertising. In addition, the address of a website that is set up on a free server often includes the name of the hosting company, whereas a paid service will allow a person to create a completely unique domain name. This gives them more credibility and makes their site name easier to remember. The best paid hosting service will also include additional features such as shopping carts, e-mail accounts, access to stats, and CGI scripts.
Choosing A Server
There are three different types of hosting servers. Shared hosting consists of a single server which hosts many sites. Sometimes, they even all have the same address. Anything that is done on one website affects all the other sites on the server, and for this reason this may not be the best paid hosting service for many people. At the other end of the spectrum is dedicated hosting. This means that each website has their own server, which gives them virtually unlimited capabilities as far as usage of the server's processor power and memory goes. The third type of hosting uses a virtual private server, or VPS. In this type of hosting, several sites share a server. However, unlike shared hosting, each site owns a certain percentage of the processors resources. As a result, no site is affected by the activities of another.
Payment plans also vary between hosting companies. Some companies offer payment by the month, others by the year, and still others give people the option of paying either way. In some cases, a discount is offered for paying annually. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the best paid hosting service is not necessarily the cheapest. More expensive services also generally offer greater bandwidth, more disk space, the possibility of creating more domain names - sometimes unlimited, and a larger number of e-mail addresses.
Quality and Reliability
Not all hosting companies are equal, regardless of how much they cost. A person should also look at the amount of up-time the server experiences, because this represents how often their site will be online. A good hosting company will guarantee at least 99 to 99.9% up-time. Additionally, the company should offer 24/7 support, either by chat or by phone. Other things to look at include the companies history, including the length of time they have been in business, and Internet business tools such as shopping carts. Finally, it is always a good idea for a person to check out the reviews of any company they are thinking of joining. Positive reviews represent high customer satisfaction, which is the ultimate test of a hosting companies worth.