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Web Hosting for the Beginner   

by Jon Norwood

Web hosting can be confusing for people just starting a new site for the first time, and even the pros need to read up now and again. Here we will discuss the basics of web hosting, as well as what to look for when setting up an account.

Web Hosting Basics

A web host has the server in which your website's files, pages, and various documents are stored. When your site has a visitor, all data the visitor sees is being pulled from your web host. This means if your web host's server is down, no data is being served. The speed of the server may also be important depending on what is being hosted. If it's a personal site that is for entertainment purposes only, then a slow server might not be so bad but this could greatly impact a business.

The first decision to be made is what type of server to use. While this may look confusing while shopping around, there is really only two choices to make; Windows Web Hosting or Linux.

Linux is almost always the less expensive choice due to licensing and operational costs that inflate the price of Windows servers. Many times Linux servers also have the very popular Cpanel installed making server administration easy. Linux also makes the use of MYSQL database and PHP possible. For these reasons Linux tends to be the more popular choice.

Windows hosting allows users to take advantage of several technologies Linux cannot. These include Active Server Pages (ASP), COM development technology, and the growing .NET infrastructure. Although fewer users require these technologies, if they are needed there is no way around it; you need a Windows host. Although Cpanel is not available for a Windows host, comparable interfaces are available for administration purposes.

Of course price is always a concern, but it should probably not be the first. A solid web host can be found for between $7 and 25$ USD. It is possible to pay more, or even get free web hosting, but this is the range that someone who wants good service will shop in. Other than price, the following items should be considered:

1. Web Stats - Being able to track numbers like how many visitors you have, where they are coming from and where they are going can be very important. For a business it might be very important. Be certain this information is available (many times it's free).

2. Web Storage - Make sure the host you choose is providing enough space to contain your site. Most often this isn't an issue at all, but if large music or movie files need to be uploaded a user can run out of space.

3. Tech Support - For new and experienced users, eventually everyone will need tech support. Not surprisingly the more a web host costs, the more support is offered. 24 hour email support is standard, but a newer user might feel more comfortable with actually speaking with a technician.

About the Author

Jon Norwood is founder and managing partner of AccessHosts, a site dedicated to providing information on Windows Hosting, as well as guides on how to best choose a service.