What Is A Web Host ?
A web host is a service provider that places your web site on a computer which
is connected to the internet. This then gives people who surf the internet a way
to access your website. The computer that the web hosting company uses is
typically just like the computer you have at home, the only difference being
that it is set up to serve web sites and is therefore called a "server".
A web host will typically have a fast connection to the Internet and they may
host thousands of web sites on many servers. The web host essentially rents out
space to you so that you can get your website up on the world wide web.
Some large web hosts maintain their own datacenter (collection of servers), some rent
a server from a larger web hosting company and then resell the space under their
own company name. In this case the web host will manage your account on the
server, but they will be renting the actual web space from another much larger
There are literally thousands of web hosting companies available in the market,
all with different types of plans and at different prices. It can be hard to
wade through all the options, especially if you are completely new to web
hosting and just want to get your website up on the web. Let us help you wade
How Does My Website Get a Name ?
All websites typically have a name - just like we are called www.HBSInc.net -
This is a name that points to the space on the web where your website is
physically located. In reality, your website will have an address which is just
a set of numbers. This is called an IP address and it looks something like this
18.104.22.168 An IP address is a unique address (just like a street address) for
your website location. Domain names like www.HBSInc.net are really just a
pointer to the real address. This makes it much easier to remember websites.
When you buy web hosting it can be easier to let the web host handle everything
associated with this. You just tell them the name that you want (www.yoursite.com
for example) and so long as that name is available, they will set up your web
hosting space so that when people type in that www address, it will
automatically go to your website. You can check if a domain name is available at
If you already have a domain name and need to transfer it to a web hosting
account, then the domain records have to be pointed to your web hosting company.
Most web hosts will handle this for you, but if you need to do it yourself then
you will need to contact the company where you registered your domain name and
provide the Nameserver address of your web hosting provider. Your web host will
tell you what their Nameservers address is.
You probably don't want to buy your web hosting plan until your website is
ready, but you might want to buy your website name early to prevent somebody
else taking the name you want. Almost all companies that sell domain names will
park your domain on their servers until you are ready to buy web hosting.
Different Kinds Of Web Hosting
There are different kinds of web hosting setups and dependent upon your website
and budget, any of these may be the right type. This is not a discussion of the
features a web hosting plan may offer - just a description general types of web
1. Free Web Hosting
It is possible to get free web hosting accounts. These are great for small
websites, but normally you have to have a banner ad at the top of every page.
Some free accounts let you use your domain name (free virtual hosting) and with
some your website address is a subdomain of the free hosting company (www.yoursitename.freehosting.com).
This second type is called Free Sub-domain hosting.
Hosting for small websites can be very cheap, but If you can answer yes to all
of the following questions, then free web hosting may be right for you.
I don't care about having ads at the top of every page in my website
I don't care about the performance / reliability of the website
I don't expect any customer support
My website is very small and will never grow
2. Shared Hosting
This is the most common type of web hosting account and can be very low cost.
With paid shared (virtual) hosting you pay a monthly fee and get a share on a
server. For very low cost plans you may only have a small amount of disk space
and a low amount of bandwidth (although this will probably not be a problem for
the vast majority of websites). With cheap virtual hosting plans you maybe one
site amongst hundreds on the same server - in this case reliability may suffer.
For slightly more expensive plans you will probably find better reliability.
3. Dedicated Hosting
With dedicated hosting you have a full server dedicated to your website. This
gives you a lot more freedom and you can host potentially hundreds of your own
websites. Typically you will have access to the server just like you have access
to your PC at home. Dedicated servers are normally reserved for large ecommerce
type websites, sites that get a lot of visitors (thousands a day), or for people
that want to start their own hosting company and sell shared hosting accounts. A
dedicated server is more reliable, but also much more expensive being at least
$100 a month vs $1 - $20 range of a shared hosting plan.
4. Co-located Hosting
This is very similar to dedicated hosting, except that you own the server rather
than rent it. Your server is placed in the datacenter and connected to the
Internet through the web hosting providers fast Internet connection. You will
then pay a fee for maintenance and bandwidth.
So What Web Hosting Plan Is The Right One To Buy?
You have a lot of choices in the web hosting market and it can be very confusing
to find the best deal that meets your needs.
The 1st step before you start to look for a web hosting company is to determine
what your needs are. It can be very tempting to look for plans that offer
everything. There are many such deals available, even at a low price, but you
will be storing up trouble for yourself. Take a step back and determine exactly
what you need and then use us to find a plan that matches at the right price
from a web hosting company that you are comfortable with.
Step1 - Determining Your Needs
Web pages (html) are normally very small - on average 40 - 50KB. This means you
can store a lot of web pages in a small amount of diskspace. Images take up more
space, but unless you have a big database driven site - it is unlikely that you
will need very much disk space. Below is terminology used to describe disk
space. If you have a computer at home or the office, then you will be already
very familiar with this.
|Disk Storage Space Terminology
||1 character. This sentence is 25 bytes
This handy calculator provides a rough guide to how much disk space you might
need for your site
You can see above that even a lot of pages doesn't really create a big
requirement for disk space. If you own a computer at home you will already know
that hard drives are very cheap these days. Many web hosting plans will offer
large amounts of disk space. This is fine, it doesn't hurt to have the extra
space - but unless you have a huge site - you will more than okay with 20MB.
Bandwidth is always stated as a monthly limit in either MB or GB. This is the
amount of actual data that can be transferred from the web server that holds
your website, to the browser of the person who is looking at your website. If
you go over the limit, then either you will have to be an extra fee, or your
website will not be available. The amount of bandwidth you use is obviously
related to the amount of traffic (visitors) that you receive.
There are web hosting companies that offer Unlimited bandwidth. This sounds like
a good deal. The truth is that this is nothing but a lie and you should steer
clear of web hosting companies that offer unlimited bandwidth. Bandwidth is a
commodity that costs the web hosting company money - unlimited bandwidth is not
only impossible, but would cost an unlimited amount of money. When web hosts
offer unlimited bandwidth they are trying to trick you. They know that you will
probably not use very much bandwidth. The moment you try to use a lot of
bandwidth - then you will find your website shutdown.
For most web sites you will not need much bandwidth. Probably 99% of all
websites use less than 2 GB of bandwidth a month. If you intend to have a lot of
downloads of software, audio or video, then you may end up using a lot more
bandwidth, maybe 50 GB. Adult sites typically use a lot of bandwidth. Sites like
mp3.com require an enormous amount of bandwidth, but for the average site - a
low level will be enough in almost all cases. (by the way NO ADULT SITES)
The calculator below will help you determine what amount of bandwidth you might
need. This assumes a simple web site with no audio or video downloads. Remember
1GB = 1000 MB (eg 0.75 GB = 750 MB)
For a more detailed secription of Bandwidth read the FindMyHosting article
3. Email Accounts
How many email accounts will you need? Normally 10 is enough, but if you think
you might want more then we can accommodate you! By default we give you
You need to ask yourself questions like do you want phone support, or will email
support be ok? Do you want support 24 hours a day? If you have a small website
that is not critical (i.e you don't pay your mortgage with website earnings)
then you probably don't need phone support or 24/7 support. It costs web hosting
companies to provide this type of support, don't pay more for a plan that offers
this if you don't need it.
5. Server Type
If you have a small website, then it is unlikely that you will need to select a
particular type of server for your website. Windows 2000 server web hosting
tends to be a little bit more expensive than Linux. If you need to run a
Microsoft SQL server database, or use Microsoft Active Server pages then you
should choose Windows2000. If you have no clue what these things even are - then
you don't need Windows2000 - you will almost certainly be fine with any type of
6. Other Features like Databases, Server Side Scripting
Web hosting plans can offer a myriad of confusing features. For the small
website it is unlikely that you will ever need to know about any of them. If you
are a web designer creating complex database driven sites then you will already
know what you need. If after creating your site you have never heard of ASP,
ColdFusion, SQL Server, mySQL - then chances are that you don't need to worry
about any of these things. If you plan to add a message board to your website
then you will need a mySQL database. This is the most common database used with
Step2 - Finding The Right Web Hosting Plan To Buy
Let us help you here.
There are many web hosting directories on the web. They all claim to be great
resources. For the most part they are great resources...for the web hosting
companies, but not for you, the web hosting consumer. Almost all of these web
hosting directories are a place where web hosting companies advertise and they
are in business only to generate advertising income from hosting companies. For
the consumer they are worthless because you can not find any unbiased
information. These advertising based web hosting directories have list of
recommendations, top 25 lists, platinum lists etc...they are all just
advertising lists similar to the ads in junk mail that might arrive through your
mail slot. Avoid these sites, they have no value because you cannot trust any
information you will find in them.
HBS has no advertising and no hosting company can buy an unfair advantage.