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What To Look For In A WebHost

Mar 1, 2008
When it comes to webhosting, there are four main options to choose from: free, shared, dedicated, and collocated. Different websites require different needs- and each need requires a specific amount of investment, time, and money.

Free Hosting: Free hosting is characterized by the lack of a price tag- but it also has the biggest set of disadvantages. Free hosting is best for personal websites or aspiring webmasters that aren't quite skilled enough to go to the next level.

Most free hosts put ads on websites their users create- something that is very unsightly, and you aren't even getting paid for it! Free hosts also do not commonly offer hosting for domain names- meaning the website you create will be part of a domain they own. This means there will be no branding options, which is a key factor in making a recognized website.

There is generally no technical support for free hosts- and response time can be limited in many cases. But you get what you pay for- and free hosts don't cost a thing!

Shared Hosting: Shared hosting is an interesting concept: get a server, and then sell web space to multiple people to make the most profit. This allows the web host to cut prices down to a level where anyone can afford them- since users aren't buying the entire server itself.

Shared hosting allows for your own domain name- so branding and freedom of forced ads are nice benefits. Depending on where the hosting is obtained, the support may still be somewhat limited (but better than free hosts on average). Shared hosts also commonly offer administrator interfaces that allow for databases, web statistics, and auto-installers for popular software and scripts.

Dedicated Hosting: When a website becomes popular, it uses more resources. A shared server can't handle multiple users demanding large amounts of bandwidth and disk space. There comes a point where the upgrade to the dedicated server is necessary to maintain successful operation of a website.

Dedicated hosting is much more expensive- and is usually only used by businesses, popular websites, and organizations. They also allow for more freedom- such as hosting for multiple domain names or increased technical support.

Dedicated hosting is just a step under the big dog in web hosting- collocated hosting.

Collocated Hosting: Collocated hosting is what the major websites use. This solution allows a website owner to essentially obtain a server- only have it managed in a separate location. The website owner may buy more resources, servers, and related services with ease as they expand their business.

Collocated hosting provides for protection the everyday user might not be able to provide. Fire, storm, and leak protection are quite common. Security personnel are present to prevent break-ins or vandalism that might otherwise occur. This babysitting of the server comes at a very high cost- so this option is almost always reserved for the big names in the webmaster world.

How to Choose a Web Hosting Plan: Choosing the best webhost is easy: simply obtain whatever suits your needs. If you're learning the basics or just want a personal webpage, there isn't any need to spend money on webhosting. Instead, go with a free host.

In every other situation, money will have to be spent. In most cases, a website will do just fine on a shared server. In fact, that is what the majority of websites run on. If you still aren't sure which package to pick- start from the bottom and work your way up- that way no money is wasted!
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