Before you look at building a website, you need a web host that can store your website and launch it to the world. There are a few things you need to note before you start to look around at what is available;
- What are you going to do with your site? Is it a blog, ecommerce system, a wiki?
- What are the minimum system requirements for your website? Basic HTML and images needs very little space. WordPress needs around a minimum of 100MB. Magento needs around 300MB.
- How much traffic do you expect to get? A basic blog will only need about 500MB of bandwidth a month. A corporate website with multiple email addresses will need around 1GB.
- Do you have any special hosting needs, such as DNS access or mail routing?
- What is your level of experience with a host? Do you need 24 hour access to phone support?
- Where will you want your website hosted? Most Australian businesses will want an Australian host, because that will give your customers the best experience. However if you are selling worldwide, a US host will be more cost effective.
- Watch out for the system specs. If you need PHP, MySQL and a Linux host, make sure that is what you are getting.
Once you have these listed down, you can then start looking at the hosting options available.
- Storage space: The provider will usually give you a certain amount of space that you can use for your website. You will typically need 20-30 megabytes (MB).
- Passwords: Will you want to control your own logon passwords? If so make sure this is available through the service that you choose.
- Domain name: You may be able to register your domain with the same company you choose for web hosting. Make sure that you are listed as the owner of the domain.
- Email: Most of the web hosting services has the ability for you to receive email with your domain name. Such as, email@example.com. You may be able to get multiple email boxes.
- Special software: Does the web hosting service have software you can use for free or with a fee to monitor traffic to your site? You may want to use your own software so make sure that is permissible.
- Compatibility: If you are using a credit card processing service make sure that it is compatible with the website creation software.
- Backup services: Choose a web hosting service that does not have a poor reputation for consistently being down. If their server is down so is your business.
- Secure services: Most of the web hosting companies have the SSL Certification but in any case this should be something you have in tact to ensure that people are able to make secure transactions on your website.
- Bandwidth: Make sure your web hosting company has sufficient bandwidth to ensure there is little to no lag time while using your website.
- Contract terms: Make sure the length of the contract fits into what you are trying to accomplish and find out if there are any penalties if you discontinue your agreement early.
- Additional services: Explore your options. What are the other services that your web hosting company has that may help you manage your website more efficiently?
- Tracking: Will you have reports available to you to show you who is visiting your site, when are they visiting and which pages are they viewing?
- Other website help: You may be able to design your website through their services for free or for an extra fee.
- Data transfer: How much data transfer comes with the account and what is the cost and implications if you need additional?
Cost Comparison: Here are four companies that I have found in a Google search where we can take a quick glance at for a cost comparison for web hosting.
Host Master: Host Master charges $3.95/mo and this includes: unlimited space and bandwidth, host unlimited domains, unlimited email accounts, free domain, cPanel Control Panel, $75 Google Adwords Credit, Free Site Builders, Free Online Stores, and WordPress, Gallery.
blueHost: blueHost charges $3.95/mo and this includes: unlimited domain hosting, unlimited GB hosting space, unlimited GB data transfer, unlimited email accounts, free domain, free site builder w/ templates, SSL, $75 free Google credit, 99.9% network uptime guarantee.
Justhost.com: justhost.com charges $4.45/mo and this includes: unlimited GB space, unlimited GBs of transfer, unlimited domain hosting, unlimited email accounts, unlimited MySQL databases, free site builder, free domain name, free instant setup and anytime money back guarantee.
Ipage: ipage charges $2.95/mo and this includes: unlimited disk space, bandwidth and email; free domain, free security suite, free site building tools, free online store, free yahoo & Facebook Marketing Credits, Green! 100% powered by windmills, and free set up and activation.
Crucial Paradigm and Jumba: Both hosts sell a program where $15 a month gets you 1GB of space and 10GB of bandwidth. This is more than enough for most websites. It comes standard with cPanel and all the options added.
Netregistry: $16 a month gets you 100GB of space and unlimited bandwidth. However if you want PHP and MySQL, then you have to pay $30 a month.
iiNet: $30 a month gets you 2GB of space and 150GB of bandwidth. However, be warned, they do charge for bandwidth excess.