10 Essential Features of Web Hosting
Anyone that wants to be seen on the Internet needs to have a website. There are literally thousands of web hosts to choose from so finding the right web hosting packages can be a confusing process, especially if you are new to web hosting. This series of articles will assist you in sorting out all the information available and give you the confidence to make the best decision about choosing reliable web hosting. You will find that web hosting packages can vary in pricing as well as the features they offer such as the amount of disk space and bandwidth available, data transfers, number of domains and email boxes, privacy and security settings, website design and marketing tools, technical support and guaranteed uptime. Knowing what your requirements are is essential to making a smart choice.
Let’s look at the features that are essential to reliable web hosting:
1.DISK SPACE / STORAGE A web hosting account has an allotment of disk/storage space that you rent on a server. The amount of storage will include all of the content of your web pages, any graphic or audiovisual content you may use on those pages, any files that are available for visitors to download and any space that you may use for emails. You will also need to allow space for the various log files that are generated by the server that keeps track of visitors to your site and what pages they click on. You may want to choose a package with additional disk space so as you add more content such as pictures, music, videos or downloadable files that require more disk space, there are no additional costs. Databases are usually calculated separately from your disk/storage space allocated, so check with your web host to see what their policy covers.
2.DATA TRANSFER / BANDWIDTH These two functions are an important factor when choosing reliable web hosting. They are similar but different aspects of the same process that work hand in hand.
Data transfer is how much data is being transferred on a monthly basis. Your website may not be accessible the less data transfer that is allocated on a monthly basis. Going over your allocated limit can result in a fee or even a temporary shutdown of your website. Be sure to choose a plan with more data transfer than your current needs to allow for additional traffic and content.
Bandwidth is how much data can be transferred at one time. The less bandwidth you are allocated, the slower your website takes to load regardless of the speed of the visitors connection. Higher bandwidth is expensive because it ties up the servers resources and can affect the performance of other customer sites on the server. An important factor to consider when choosing a web host is the fact that they can terminate your Domain name and close the account without refund.
3.DOMAIN NAME The Domain name is your unique name and address on the Worldwide Web. Domain registration is the process that an individual or a company secures a website domain, such as www.yoursite.com. Once you have completed domain registration, the domain name becomes yours for a specified period of time, usually one year. You must renew you domain name before your registration expires, or the domain reverts back to being available to the general public. Be sure that you own your domain name. Some web hosts maintain control of the domains they register so its important that you retain the option to transfer the domain to another registrar. You should read the Terms and Conditions regarding maintaining your privacy and any additional fees to transfer to your domain to another registrar.
4.DEDICATED VS. SHARED IP ADDRESS An Internet Protocol address, or better known as an IP address, is the numerical address of the website that tells other computers where to find the server host and your domain on the Internet. There are advantages to having a dedicated IP address vs. a shared IP address which is explained in the next section.
Dedicated IP Address means that your site is the only one on the Internet using that IP address number. The advantages of having a dedicated IP address are that you can get your site better SEO (search engine optimization) ratings which make your website more visible and easier to find; there are better security and privacy options. A Private SSL Certificate was created to confirm the identity of a website or server and ensure secure transactions between web servers and browsers. In order to keep clients information secure, a Private SSL Certificate is required for ECommerce websites that accept online credit card payments.
Shared IP Address means there could be hundreds of websites sharing one server that share a single IP address. Shared IP addresses make it easier for hosting companies to manage and maintain their servers and offer this feature at a lower cost. The downside to this feature is if other websites sharing your IP address are banned or blacklisted due to spamming or scamming, their actions directly affect your website. Your website could disappear from the search engines and your email could be blocked by Internet Service Providers (ISP). A Shared SSL Certificate gives you the benefits of a SSL Certificate at a lower cost and still provides a secure URL (Uniform Resource Locator). Many Ecommerce websites provide Shared SSL to their business clients.
5.EMAIL FEATURES Email hosting offers a variety of features for both individuals and businesses. Some of the features offered are customized email addresses, import/export your address book, unlimited storage, webmail accessible from your mobile phone or PDA, calendar alerts, mail forwarding, auto responders, email filters that protect you from viruses and spam, phone and email tech support.
6.GUARANTEED UPTIME This is one of the most important features of a reliable web hosting provider. Guaranteed uptime means your website is guaranteed to be up at least 99.9% of the time and available to visitors. When your website is unavailable, traffic and potential clients will be drawn to your competitors sites and ultimately lost sales. This guarantee should include network uptime, server uptime, web server and service uptime as well as 24/7 support.
7.CONTROL PANEL FEATURES The most important job that a website owner has is creating and management of the website(s) and its content. The C-Panel features the tools for uploading and managing web pages, managing domains, subdomains, FTP accounts, creating parked domains, add-on domains, protecting your directories, redirecting visitors to another location, website statistics, back up data, virus protection and spam filters, the tools to keep your privacy and security.
8.PRIVACY & SECURITY The security of your communications such as unauthorized or sensitive data are a huge concern. Some of the security tools that a web host may include are SSL secure servers, SSL certificates, high quality software that can prevent other websites from directly accessing your databases and files, anti-virus protection, reliable authentication, secure payment processing, firewall protection, use of strong passwords, email encryption and strict privacy policies.
9.TECH SUPPORT A reliable web hosting provider should have technical support available 24/7. Get a quick reply to your support ticket should any issues arise and getting instant support via a live chat service or telephone support.
10.WEBSITE BUILDING TOOLS Even if you have no prior knowledge or experience, Website building tools are often offered as part of a web hosting package. The more advanced website building tools teach you how to add a photo album, guestbook, ads, newsletters, blogs, FAQ module, visitor tracker, banner rotator, auto installer software for blogs, forums, galleries and much more.
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