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Writer's Website Hosting


What You Want:
Reliability, ease-of-use, fair price.

Your website host is the company that puts your website online. It loads your site into its computers (servers) and "serves" it up on the Internet, making it available to the world.

Your website host is not (or not necessarily) your ISP (Internet Service Provider), that is, the company that gives you access to the Internet via a dial-up phone line, or broadband connection such as cable modem or DSL.

Some ISPs are also web hosts, but not all. AOL is an ISP, but not a web host. Earthlink is both an ISP and a web host. Pair Networks, my website host, is a web host but not an ISP.

Actually, a web hosting company is not essential. You might be able to host your site on your own computer, but the headaches are so great and varied and baroque, and the cost of having professionals do it is so reasonable, that few serious websites are served from home or small office computers.

What makes a good hosting service?

NOT size! Small, medium, large can all be good—or bad. Here's what to look for:

1. Reliability: your website should be available 100% of the time, or very nearly so. If your web host has frequent server problems, you lose visitors, and thus income. Be sure to find out about reliability ("up time," the opposite of "down time") when you're in the market for a web host.

2. Ease of use: is the web host's "control panel" user interface clear and intuitive or confusing? Do you find it easy to do what you want to do? Easy-to-use interfaces may be found on web hosts of any size, big or small, as can bad interfaces. If you don't choose an easy interface, dealing with your web host is gonna drive you nuts.

3. Customer service: it should be easily available, free (or at least very cheap), responsive and knowledgeable, giving you truly helpful answers, not just boilerplate text from a database or FAQ (Frequently-Asked Questions page). Email support is the minimum, email-plus-phone support is far better, and gets your problem solved faster.

4. Price: web hosting is competitive, so prices are quite reasonable. Most web hosts have tiered pricing. Here are examples:

— Free: a small site of a few dozen pages at most, perhaps built from the company's online templates via your web browser, offered free by ISPs to their customers. Numerous companies offer this, including even Google, as iGoogle, "Create your own homepage in under 30 seconds."

The examples below are based on the moderate fees set by Pair Networks Website Hosting:

— Basic: a site of several hundred pages of smallish file size with a low to moderate number of visitors, no technical bells-and-whistles, and technical support via email, for as low as US$10 to US$15 per month.

— Intermediate: a site of about 1000 pages with a moderate number of visitors, and some bells-and-whistles such as CGI scripts, statistics files, simple e-commerce, database, etc., and tech support via email and/or telephone, for US$18 to $25 per month.

— Business: several thousand pages with numerous technical refinements: shopping carts, lots of scripts, numerous databases, lots of visitors, full tech support by phone, for about US$30 or $40 per month.

— Pro: sophisticated e-commerce site with frequently changing content, all the bells-and-whistles, secure server, and millions of visitors each month, if not each week, for about US$50 to $75 per month.

High-Demand: a website of any size that receives thousands of visitors per day, and thus requires a great amount of bandwidth (connection capacity), for about US$70 per month.

A special deal for authors is author Greg Raver-Lampman's SignedCopy.com, which offers website hosting with an easy way for you to update pages—even if you know absolutely nothing about websites or HTML. It's also a great site for making money by selling your own autographed books.


Next: Photos on Your Website

Previous: Finding a Good Website Designer

Pair Networks Website Hosting

 
 
Tom Brosnahan