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Websites 101: Hosting

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This post is a followup to the Websites 101: Domain Names posting.

When it comes to choosing a hosting plan there tends to be a bit of jargon thrown into the mix. I’m going to try to explain some of this jargon in plain-English to try to make your choice a little easier, or at least help you understand what your web designer is talking about. As with choosing your domain, I suggest going with a larger hosting company with a good reputation of having good service and uptime (i.e. your site is down because their servers are) who isn’t going to disappear and take your files with it. Even if you do use a larger hosting provider, backup your files!!

Bandwidth (sometimes called Transfer Space)
The term bandwidth is jargon for how much space it takes on the server to load your website. Your bandwidth usage adds up each time a page on your website is loaded by a visitor. Therefore, larger sites and those with larger numbers of visitors, require more bandwidth.

Note if the hosting company’s free or lower cost hosting package places ads on your site as this can look unprofessional if they aren’t the ads you want (assuming you want them).

Linux or Windows & Application Support
Some hosts give you an option of whether to have your site on a Linux or Windows server. This has nothing to do with what type of computer (Mac, Toshiba, Dell, Sony, etc) or operating systems (Windows, OS X, etc) you are running, but with what applications or services you want to run on your website. Your web designer should be able to tell you which is best for you, or if it even matters which one you run as it may not matter since many applications/services will run on both. Some Microsoft applications or programming languages however will only run on Windows servers.

Another thing you might check with is if your host supports files from Dreamweaver, FrontPage, or your favorite blogging platform such as WordPress.org, TypePad, or MoveableType or content management system (Drupal, Joomla!, Mambo, etc) as not all of them do.

Note: WordPress.com is hosted by WordPress, you only need to check for WordPress if you are using .org which is installed locally on your site’s domain.

SSL Certificate
Another option they may try to sell you is an SSL Certificate. An SSL Certificate is only necessary if you are going to be taking credit card information through your website.

If I’ve left something out that you have a question about, please use the contact form to ask me and I’ll respond and perhaps add it to this post.

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