Every business—even if it only has one employee—needs a Website, and even if you're not running a business you might still want a site of your own. Thanks to the wealth of options and services available, setting up a website with your own personal domain (that is, with a URL in the format www.yoursitename.com) is both easy and affordable. The first step is to find a Web host, the company who will store your files on its servers. As you can see from the above table, Web hosts are all different, with different bandwidth, storage capacity, applications, email features, and of course, prices.
While Web hosts can offer dedicated hardware and even virtual private servers (in which multiple sites share hardware but otherwise have isolated, virtualized software), this list focuses mostly on shared packages, the most common (and affordable) way to set up Web site. This means a single server at the Web host is serving up multiple Websites. For your purposes, though, it doesn't matter since you are the only one with access to your files, and you can't access someone else's files.
Before you can decide which Web host meets your needs and which Web hosting package to buy, you need to figure out your basic requirements. These shared servers are affordable, but if you are worried about performance and speed, you need to be looking at dedicated or virtual servers.
Many of the Web hosts offer limited features for the starter packages, and then expand the offerings (sometimes tremendously) for higher-tier plans. Read the small type to make sure the plan you are selecting offers what you need. If you need a site builder application to design your Website, make sure that the low-cost Web host you are picking actually comes with a site builder. Many of them require you to pay for the builder as a separate add-on.
You also want a Web host with 24/7 customer support—if not by phone, then by chat. Forums, knowledge bases, and help tickets are all well and good, but sometimes you just need that human on the other end of the support call.
Some Web hosts offer a choice of Linux or Windows hosting. If you have specific applications that require Windows, such as SQL Server or a custom application written in .NET, then you need to make sure your Web host has Windows hosting. But don't let the idea of a Linux host intimidate you. Most Web hosts nowadays offer a graphical interface or a control panel to simplify server administrator and Website management. Instead of typing at the command line, you will be clicking on icons most of the time.
One thing we learned in reviewing the services listed here (and many more!) is that even though the packages are very similar, they are not identical. Some are more security-minded than most, offering antispam and antimalware tools. Others offer a variety of email marketing tools. While most of the hosts have built-in e-commerce, you may want to consider buying and installing a robust e-commerce application instead.
Some Web hosts give you plenty of room to grow even within the tier, and others require you to upgrade to a more expensive plan. Consider how much you expect to grow your website and how soon before you commit to anything longer than a one-year plan.
If you're ready to select a great Web hosting service, click the links below to read our in-depth reviews of the biggest and best names in the space.
Original Post PC Magazine