There are many Web hosting services that will allow you to put your website on one of their servers for a fee. These servers are always connected to the Internet, so your website is always available.
Choosing a reliable, yet cheap website hosting can be one of the most important decisions you make for your online business and is not something that should be taken lightly. Hosting providers offer you different types of packages...
- Free hosting is for fun. If you want to experiment with a site or put up a small, personal site for the fun of it, a free package will suffice. See Free Website Hosting.
- Shared hosting is suitable in most cases. A few tens of sites are housed on one server. Choose it if you are serious about doing some business and want to have a professional website.
- Dedicated hosting is typically used for sites that need to handle a high level of traffic, need a higher degree of security, or sites that run their own customized software. Choose it if you want to be the only user of that physical machine.
Web hosting services offer you the wide range of features. Be sure to focus on the essentials that are required to launch your website. Will you use all the nice extras? It's a good idea to choose an initially cheap website hosting and expand your plan as and when your site grows.
For example, you may not need a database solution now, but you may need one in the future. So, when choosing a host, keep in mind your possible future needs, and whether it will be able to accommodate them.
Cheap WebSite Hosting
Here are a few cheap hosting services (under $10 per month) to start...
In my opinion, the best inexpensive hosting deal for standard sites is IXWebHosting. They provide unlimited disk space and bandwidth, Site Studio website builder, free domain name, dedicated IP address and strong uptime guarantee.
For more details, see Resources: Inexpensive Web Hosting
To make a decision, you should understand all the basic features of hosting services. Below are the descriptions of them...
This refers to the amount of hard disk space the provider sets aside for your exclusive use. Hard disk space is cheap these days. Even free accounts routinely offer 20-50MB of space. Most websites only use 2-3MB of space if they are not offering movies, sound, and files for download.
Transfer / Bandwidth
Bandwidth, traffic, data transfer refer to the same thing - the amount of data transferred to visitors as they view your Web pages. The vast majority (some estimates are as high as 99%) of the sites on the Web never come close to generating 2GB a month of traffic.
Some cheap website hosting services offer you a limited amount of transfer per month as part of your package and then charge you an extra fee for any traffic over your limit. Others offer unlimited bandwidth as part of your package. They know that most sites don't generate much traffic, and the odd site, one that is the exception to the rule, will be more than balanced by all their other customers.
If, however, your site becomes extremely popular and generates enormous traffic that swamps the provider's resources, it may force you to move or pay more by invoking an escape clause found in all contracts. The clause says that if you do something that "threatens" their operations, they can yank your service.
Another point to consider is that cheap website hosting services that offer unlimited traffic may actually attract more high bandwidth sites than the statistical norm. This could result in network congestion that will make your pages harder to reach or slow to load.
A subdomain is shown as subdomain.domain.ext, where domain.ext is the primary domain. A subdomain displays the default page located within any directory in your Web space.
One or more additional domains can point to your main domain. For example, you already have a hosting account and the domain name "domain.com." You may register "domain.net" and "domain.org" and park them to your main account, so that no matter which one you typed in, it would still go to the same site.
Add-on domains (domain pointers)
They allow you to share your disk space and bandwidth with more than one domain name. The additional domain name (pointer) can point to to a subdirectory of your main site, so the add-on domain can have its own home page and content.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is used to transfer documents from your hard drive to a remote server. FTP is the easiest way to upload and download files between you and your Web host.
Dedicated IP address
Most cheap website hosting services host multiple domains on the same IP address. But it's recommended (not absolutely essential, just recommended) to get you unique (dedicated) IP address. If you don't have a dedicated IP, there is a small possibility that if other sites who share your IP address use dubious search engine positioning techniques, search engines may block all of the Web sites hosted on that IP address. This is the IP equivalent of bad neighborhoods.
So, when selecting a Web host, see whether they give you dedicated IP address. If it means that you have to pay a bit more for your hosting, the extra cost is worth it. See Articles: Dedicated IP hosting for more information.
POP3 email accounts
Even with cheap website hosting accounts, you usually get multiple email addresses. You can check your email using different email software packages from anywhere in the world. You can easily set up your email addresses or change them.
Catch All Email Address
Suppose, you get five email addresses with your hosting account, but what if someone emails you at an address that doesn't exist? With the catch-all email feature, anything that is emailed to your domain name is automatically forwarded to an email address that you specify.
Maybe you have a large number of email addresses and don't want to check all of them separately. With the email forwarding feature, you can forward all your incoming email to another email address that you specify.
An autoresponder is a specific email address that has two functions. First, any user sending an email to that address will receive an automated response. Second, the original incoming message is forwarded to another specified email address.
Personal CGI directory
Almost all hosts allow you to have your own personal CGI (common gateway interface) directory where you can place your CGI scripts. CGI scripts are small programs on the server that can provide your site with interactivity.
Predefined CGI scripts
Almost all free and cheap website hosting providers give you access to centralized CGI scripts...
You may place a counter on your website so that you can count your visitors.
Form to Email
This is a form on your site that allows your visitors to contact you. The submitted information will be emailed to an address that you specify.
You may place a guest book on your site if you want to know who is visiting your site, and what their comments are about it.
Server Side Includes (SSI)
This is a group of functions that can be included directly in your HTML so that a server can include variable values in the HTML file before it sends it to the requester. SSI commands allow you to perform functions not available through HTML.
For example, with SSI you can include running CGI scripts and post the results on the Web page, embed the current time and date or the date of the last update, etc.
Detailed website statistics
Many cheap website hosting services provide all clients with detailed graphical site statistics. You can see how many people are visiting your site, what pages they are looking at, when they visit, and much more.
Access to raw log files
The log files store the information of all requests made to your website. They are the files used to calculate the site statistics. Having access to the raw log files allows you to download them for archiving and allows you to run your own statistics software package on your own computer so that you can get more detailed information about your visitors.
Many hosts allow FrontPage extensions so that you can create and publish your site using Microsoft Frontpage without learning how to program.
It's vitally important that your site is never inaccessible. Look for a host that offers a 99.5% or a 99.9% on-line guarantee.
This is important for both the search engines and your human visitors. If a search engine spider comes to visit your site when it's inaccessible, it's quite likely that it will drop your site from its index.
Many cheap website hosting services offer an astounding array of additional features that go beyond the basic features. Some of them you may never use, and some will be must-haves.
For example, if you're building a store, you probably will need database services to update your catalog, secure pages (SSL) and digital certificates, a shopping basket program, and the ability to accept credit cards.
But if you're building a technical support site, the most important to you may be chat or forum software, the ability to post how-to movies for download or to stream them to your visitors, mailing lists, lots of email addresses, and password protected FTP transfers.
You can get excellent or lousy hosting service for the same price. But finding value is not as simple as going with the cheapest package. Some of those cheap website hosting services get very pricey when you add not-so-optional services such as access to log files, password protection, or security. Conversely, some of those expensive packages might actually be cheap because they truly do provide all the services and features you need now, or will need soon.
Find out the real cost of the cheap website hosting. Count all the prices for each service. Don't forget to include all of the various setup fees along with monthly fees. Also find out what the provider will charge you to upgrade your service package in the future.