Storage Space: Most plans limit the amount of disk
storage space your web site can consume. To better understand your
space requirements, a typical web page that would load in 8 seconds
from a dial up account would be 30k in size. This equates to a 100mb
account would allow for approximately 30 x 100 = 3000 average sized
pages. Other providers impose limits such as only so many files of
a certain type or services such as email or databases have individual
limits. We provide a single limit that you can share for any of your
Transfers: Every time someone visits your site,
information is transferred back and forth between the server and that
visitor's browser. If you have a busy site, the transfers can quickly
add up. Because you are consuming precious connection bandwidth, and
quality bandwidth cost money, hosts want you to pay extra if your
site exceeds certain limitations. To understand bandwidth usage we
can use a formula similar to the disk storage example above. Using
our same 30k page size, and a 1gb (1000mb) transfer account, approximately
30 x 1000 = 30,000 page views would be possible. Some providers impose
daily or hourly limits which you might exceed. At LinkOnUs.comwe calculated your usage on a monthly bases which allows
for busier times of the day.
Web Statistics: Most hosts will make your log files
available to you. You can then acquire and use one of the popular
Web statistics programs to analyze the logs. We actually provide several
different online graphical programs that will provide excellent reports.
These reports are stored within your site allowing you to compare
different time periods and truly refine your marketing efforts.
E-Mail Accounts: Most basic plans give you several
accounts to start with, and more if you pay for them. The host should
provide you with a way to use your browser to process your email,
in addition to letting your e-mail program access it. Other things
you may be interested in are aliases, which let you create multiple
names for a single account, and auto-responders, which automatically
reply to received messages with a predefined response.
E-Mail Lists: If you plan to create an E-Zine, discussion
list, or e-mail newsletter, you will need an e-mail list service.
The best solution is one you can manage yourself over the Internet.
Under some plans e-mail lists are part of your e-mail service, while
others require you to pay separately for it.
Domain Registration and Hosting: Some hosts will
register your domain name for free, others will charge a fee, typically
$10 to $50 per year on top of the registration price. Just make sure
that the domain name is registered to your company and that you are
the contact for it. We will gladly register your domain name for you
with you as the contact giving you the control.
Chat Room: Most businesses don't have much use
for a chat room because the telephone is a much more efficient way
to provide customer service. However, you may want to provide your
visitors with a chat room so they can chat amongst themselves. This
service may be valuable for businesses that cater to hobbyists and
collectors. Chat is only one of the many services that can be installed
for free from the control panel.
Database Support: If your Web site will use a database,
you will need to know whether or not the host supports your database
of choice. On Windows servers, support for Access is frequently provided
at no extra charge, but support for SQL Server will almost certainly
cost extra. Additionally, your host may charge extra for larger SQL
Shopping Cart: Some hosts make shopping cart software
available to you. The features of that software can be critical if
your site will involve a large Web storefront. Make sure the shopping
cart software includes the features you need and supports the payment
processor you choose.
Bulletin Board: Many hosts offer access to bulletin
board software, so you can offer on-line support and special interest
forums to your customers. A bulletin board is like a combination between
a chat room and e-mail. Related messages are "threaded"
into discussions so you can follow an entire conversation between
two participants. A Bulletin Board is only one of the many services
that can be installed for free from the control panel.
Mail Automation: If you plan to create on-line forms
that collect information and send it to your e-mail account, you will
need some kind of e-mail utility. Hosts often provide a script that
does this, or they give you access to a software program for which
you can write custom scripts yourself. The Control Panel has many
features to manage your email accounts, including spam and virus protection,
mailing lists, auto responders and aliases.
Backup: What happens if the host's power goes out?
What happens if the server's drive crashes? Is your Web site backed
up so it can be restored? Your host should back your site up on a
regular basis, but you or your developer should also have a copy of
all the files that make up your site. This issue is critical if you
have a database or use a shopping cart. You don't want to lose orders.
We have probably one of the most advanced backup solutions in use
today. Each day modified files from our servers are backed up to large
raid systems and automatic tape drives. The backup software then tracks
changes to the files and allows us to quickly restore a single file
or a complete hard drive at any time in the past.
Contract Term: When possible, avoid signing a long-term
contract. The hosting market changes rapidly, and you don't want to
be locked-in to a service that you could quickly grow out of. Also,
you don't want to pay in advance for service you may never get, should
the host go out of business. If you ever want to change plans any
monies paid can be rolled over to a different plan.
Operating System: Your host may offer a choice of
server operating systems, like Windows, or Linux. For most people,
the operating system won't matter, but if you want to run specific
software or scripts on your site, you'll need to make sure the software
works on the host operating system.
Cost: Considering what you get, hosting is inexpensive.
Particularly when you compare it to the cost of setting up and maintaining
a Web server and high-speed Internet connection yourself. For small
and medium-sized businesses, the decision to outsource Web services
to a hosting company is a no-brainer.
Support: Companies support plans vary from self
help, email or telephone. When choosing a provider this area is worth
some investigation. We provide all three - vast online knowledge base
and documentation's, email trouble ticket system that logs your requests
and answers and telephone support from trained personnel.
Free hosting services are rarely truly free, and they rarely offer
the services a business Web site requires. Providing hosting services
costs money, so if it isn't obvious how they make that money back,
you should be suspicious. Also, most of these so-called free sites
severely limit your disk space utilization, bandwidth (which affects
the performance of your site), transfers (which affects how many visitors
you can have), or they require you to display their advertisements
on your Web pages.
You may have seen articles on how to select a hosting service based
on their statistics, but realistically, the best statistics possible
won't make it any easier to deal with them when you need support.
Ultimately, the way you are treated when you call to ask about their
service will be a good indicator of how they will respond to you once
you hand over your money.