A web host offers you some space (memory) on a server that is connected as part of the internet so that anything you put on that space is available over the Net. You must have a host if you want a website people can access, although you can restrict that access on some or all pages if you want.
Where to start… there are a lot of web hosts out there so limit yourself to looking at a small proportion of them and getting a short list for detailed comparisons (see list below for things to consider). Here are some tips on finding some web hosts to look at:
- ask around other business people you know for their recommendations (positive or negative) – or use social media contacts for the same question
- use a search engine to find some hosts, but narrow the search a little with terms like ‘business web hosting’, ‘australian hosting’ or ‘secure small business hosting’
- look for mentions of hosts in your favourite blogs and social media channels
- look around your networks (not just business networks) for any hosts you already know
- if you belong to a group or support a charity, look at the list of recent supporters as a web host may be been generous
- web designers often know web hosts and/or have arrangements with hosts to make it easier – in other words, your designer will set up the hosting for you and install the site as well. This can be convenient but be sure the hosting is accessible to you so you have control after you finish using the designer’s services
Some points to consider about web hosting:
- Particular comparison points when choosing a package are number of email addresses included, storage space (how much stuff you can put on their servers), monthly data transfer (relates to how many visitors your site can manage), redirected domains and programs allowed (e.g. you need MySQL for most blogs and a means of gathering your stats).Read up on some terms before making comparisons might make life easier.
- make sure the host has a reasonable or better level of security on offer
- choose a reputable host with a good package rather than worrying about how local they are
- you do not have to register your domain name at the same place as you get your hosting – I have seen a number of places discount one to hook you into the other under the implication you must do both. Likewise, you can arrange your own hosting separate from your designer
- seriously look around – there are hosting suppliers who charge an arm and a leg for less than what others provide at reasonable rates
- free hosting is on offer but it usually comes with hidden costs such as fewer features and a long, difficult URL – do you want to promote www.someonesdomain.com/yoursite or www.yoursite.com.au? For $60 or so a year, you can have your domain, many features and full control over your site so think twice and twice again before taking any free hosting plans
- it’s ok to ask existing clients of a host about their experiences – I did this for digital pacific last year and was given multiple stories of good service and no downtime (i.e. the websites were not offline because of problems with the hosting)
- most hosts will allow you to upgrade your package later so start with a low use package to get going and see what you need.
For what it’s worth, I have used MultimediART for some years and had great service but some down time and lack of notices, Digital Pacific with advance notices, no downtime and good service and Jumba with no issues (and no real test of their service). All Australian and priced for value.
This post is part of Word Constructions’ Setting up a website series
1. having a website helps more than you
2. what’s involved in setting up a website?