Web Hosting Providers & Packages
What To Look For When Researching A Web Host & Web Hosting Package
Even though one HTML file for example is known as a web page, as can be one PHP file, collectively a group of website files (i.e. one HTML file, one CSS file and one Image file) are also known as a web page…..usually by the general public.
What Is A Website?
Behind the scenes a website is just a folder, on the web hosting provider’s computer (server), that is named after your domain name (i.e. websitecreationhelp.com). Within that domain name folder (also known as your Web Space root folder) will be a sub-folder called public_html. It is the content of that public_html sub-folder that the general public will view via their web browser (i.e. Internet Explorer), with your permission of course.
This is because even though your domain name points to (connects to) your Web Space root folder, the folder that was named after your domain name (i.e. websitecreationhelp.com), a web browser and more specifically a website address can only point to (view the content of) the public_html sub-folder…..in normal circumstances. In other words, typing your domain name into internet explorer will point you to the content (i.e. main web page) that is inside the public_html sub-folder. You will not see the content of the Web Space root folder.
Which Web Hosting Provider?
You will know which web hosting provider to use when you have looked at the prices of their Web Hosting Packages and the features that come with it (i.e. PHP Scripting and MySQL Database). A web hosting provider has two main jobs to do.
The first job is to maintain your Web Space (main folder), which has specific web hosting system files inside it as well as your public_html sub-folder, so that your public_html website content is viewable for everyone to see on the internet 24/7…..with your permission of course. This job also involves them looking after their own computers (servers) and making sure your website content is safe and secure.
The second job is to maintain your Control Panel (set of Tools) that comes with the web hosting package, so that you can create MySQL Databases, E-Mail Accounts and so on (depending on the features of the web hosting package).
Shop Around – Avoid FREE & Cheap ‘N’ Nasty
When looking for a Web Hosting Provider to host (display) your website on the internet, and more importantly when looking at the features inside their Web Hosting Packages, it pays to shop around. The old saying “If it’s too good to be true it probably is” should be in the front of your mind.
Dismiss the sales talk about features such as “Unlimited Bandwidth”, “Unlimited Web Space”, “1002s of FREE Templates” and “Website Builder” because these tend to be gimmicks – A company does not give for free unless they are taking from somewhere else and/or someone else. For example. “FREE Templates” that everyone else is using (so your website is not unique/bespoke to you). “A Website Builder” that supposedly does everything for you (so you get a useless/limited Control Panel).
Many “FREE Website Hosting” packages do not allow you to create a MySQL Database or use PHP Scripting for example. Other packages host (display) your website content for “FREE” with the condition that your web pages contain their selected advertisements. Some limit the features of the Control Panel, Bandwidth and so on. These tend to be hosting companies that advertise “FREE Website Builder” and “FREE Templates”.
In other words. They give you software that builds and publishes your website, catered for the Absolute Beginner, without you realising you should be getting a better control panel for example. There are plenty of free, and very affordable, templates and tools on the internet that can also build you a website in minutes. So do not pay for something like a Website Builder for the sake of a limited control panel.
Affordable – With Basic Features
A good Web Hosting Package should be affordable but definitely not “FREE”, and definitely not “Cheap ‘N’ Nasty”. Above all else it should contain YOUR basic requirements. So consider spending £5 to £10 a month on a standard web hosting package. This should get you the Basics. Ask yourself the following questions:
Do I need 10, 20, 40 or 80+ Email Addresses?.
Am I going to need a Forum (Questions & Answers Board), Blog (Diary Articles), Guest Book and/or Media (Audio/Video) Gallery?…..that may need a MySQL Database and/or PHP Script. One thing to remember here is that these features can take time to create and may need ongoing management time too.
How much Website Space do I need?…..for my Web Pages (HTML Files – Text, Pictures, Audio and Video), Forum, Blog, Guest Book and so on.
How many Website Visitors am I expecting each month? The more visitors you get the more Bandwidth (Download Units) you will need.
Below I have explained the major features inside a standard Web Hosting Package, in order for you to answer the above questions and to give you a better idea of what features you should be looking to use. At the bottom of each description I have noted the standard you should be looking for when paying £5 to £10 a month. These are based on Quality web hosting providers (see Quality below).