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Web Site Hosting

As a matter of full disclosure, I want to say that I offer web site hosting through, and most of the features in this article are inline with the plans there.

A lot of people have asked me what they need to look for in their web hosting plans. Let me lay out a few things here.

First, I have worked with companies and sites that pay $5 a month for hosting and I have worked with companies that pay $300 per month for hosting. The other day, I was the advocate for a company that is paying $200 a month for hosting (and getting services that were inadequate when compared to hosts that are less than $10).

If I were to make recommendations for a business with a shopping cart, and 30,000 visitors per month, I would make different recommendations than those of a site that has rabbit hunting beagles for sale and only gets 150 visitors per day.

Since my web site is focused on small farms and breeders, let me speak to that crowd. If you ask, "What do I need from my web host?" check here for answers.

First, if you are paying more than $10 a month, you are paying too much. While price is not always a good guide, in this case it appears to be.

I still remember the first time I signed up for hosting. I wasn't sure exactly what all of the options were (I didn't know what should have been standard, and what was really a good value - I didn't know what I would need (and use) and what would just be extra).

For a starter web site, there are 3 main things I would look at:

  • Price
  • Disk Space
  • EMail Accounts


VFW Post 5077

I have already mentioned price. Additionally, sometimes you will see a setup fee. For most web hosts, setup is an automated process that the user actually does themselves. To me, this is a needless fee. If you do have a host that has a setup feel, do the math and figure out what it is actually costing you for the first year (i.e. if your host is $8 / month, and there is a $24 setup fee, essentially you are paying $10 / month for the first year).

For disk space, I think that most startup sites should look at getting somewhere around the 200 - 400 MB disk space range. Since digital cameras are so prevalent, and the megapixels are getting higher and higher (as are the size of the pictures), having more space is better. With that said, you will want to manage your use of space and use it as judiciously as possible (because some hosts charge outrageous penalties for going over on your disk space).

For email accounts, it is unlikely that you will use more than 10 accounts. Most of the sites I have designed have only used one. One of these days, I will write an article about how to use your catch-all account.

Other "nice to have" features include:

  • Additional Domains
  • Domain Aliases
  • Databases

Additional domains are a nice to have in case your business branches off into a side business. Some hosts (including the one I started with) charge a bundle of money to add extra domains.

Domain aliases are good to have in case you want to also buy the .net, or .org version of your domain name. Another good way to use aliases for are if you have a long descriptive domain name and a shorter one as an acronym. Suppose you had the domain That is a good domain name because it has highly descriptive keywords in the domain name. Of course, the downside is that it is a mouthful (or a pencilful if you are trying to get someone to write down your web address). You could also get (which, at only 6 keystrokes, might be easier to write or remember). For more on selecting a domain name, read my other article.

Finally, there are a few things that your almost all hosts have. You will often see these in lists of services (but they are so standard, that you can almost ignore them). These include:

  • FTP account
  • Web Mail
  • POP/SMTP Mail
  • Stats
  • Access to Raw Log Files
  • Server Side Includes
  • Shared SSL
  • EMail Forwarding
  • EMail Aliases
  • Multi-Receipt Accounts
  • Catch All EMail Aliases
  • Anti-Spam
  • Custom Error pages (404)

All of these should be free. If you are looking at a host that charges extra for these features (at least just to have access to them), you should probably look at another host. Most good plans will have these options in greater amounts in their premium plans, but even the basic plan should have most of those features included.

And I left off bandwidth. Well, unless you are streaming video, as long as you get an account that fits within the other guidelines I have set out, your package should have more than enough bandwidth. If you are lucky enough to get a site that takes off and gets thousands of visitors per day, you might want to upgrade to a more premium package to handle that -- and to add advertisement to your site to offset the costs.

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Gregory Motes

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