Choosing a Web Site Hosting Company
The most important thing when designing a website is the choice of hosting package which you
use. You need to think about your overall internet strategy before you consider
who should host your web site. This review of the hosting packages which we ourselves use should
provide an indication of what to look for when choosing a webspace provider.
Ideally, you need a fast and reliable internet server, but you also need to consider
whether you need the ability to run programs (or scripts) on your server (such as
Perl, ASP, .Net, PHP, CGI-BIN scripts). Programs can be required to check forms which you have on your
website, or to generate up to date pages from a database (for example a shop front).
You may also want to allow users to upload and download files from your site using FTP
(File Transfer Protocol) and may even need to consider the use of sub-domains to
provide distinct areas to your website.
You also need to consider whether you need Microsoft FrontPage and Microsoft Access extensions
to provide extra functionality to your site; and whether you need to be able to access a
database on your server.
The more features a hosting package offers you the better, as it provides the
maximum flexibility for improving your website at a later stage.
Another factor to consider is the estimated amount of traffic
that your website will receive. The more traffic (visitors) that a website attracts, the
greater your bandwidth requirements. Bandwidth is a limit on the amount of information that
can be downloaded from your website and is typically limited to a set amount of
GB (GigaBytes) per month (although some servers also put a daily limit on this). This is
different to the download limits imposed by some internet service providers (such as BT) who
restrict how much people accessing the internet through their service can download in each month.
Why Not Use Free Web Space?
Plenty of people provide free space for web sites (AOL, MSN and Yahoo are just a
couple). However, they do not generally allow you to run programs on the
server (essential for form handling) and often add advertising. You are
also generally unable to get much detail about your visitors.
Other common problems with free web space can seriously hinder your rankings in search engines.
In particular a lot of free web space sites place your own webpage into a frame and
then generate a page around it containing extra or repeated information. This can prevent
some people and search engine robots from seeing your actual webpage. Even worse are
some providers who do not allow search engines to access your real web-pages without a username and
password !! Repeated information may be treated as spam by the search engines and so should be
Probably the worst instances of using free web site hosting that we have seen are:
1) A free web page advertising a computer show - although this appeared fine within
Microsoft's Internet Explorer and some other internet browsers, in the popular Opera browser, it
can cause problems, with the advertising frame flashing repeatedly over the left hand side of the
actual page, or advertising blocking some of the sites logo and navigation links.
2) Another well known free web-hosting provider has also been utilised to host
someone's adult website, which downloads a piece of spyware onto your computer without warning you.
As a result, when you find any sites hosted with this provider through the Google search engine,
a warning comes up to state that the website is not safe and should not be visited unless
you are certain of the authenticity and willing to take the risk that it may harm your computer.
In general, the addition of any advertising to your website by the hosting company is
unattractive and you have no control over what advertising is displayed. If you adopt the right
strategy, you can add advertising to your website which
will be of specific interest to your visitors and generate an additional stream of income for
yourself. You can also use a similar approach to promote your own website through advertising.
Finally, the fact that most free web site hosting prevents access to the root directory,
prevents you from giving any instructions to robots over which parts of your website
they should index. This can prevent you from adopting a proper
search engine optimisation strategy.
With unreliable access, low bandwidth and slow servers, free web space is only really useful for
small personal sites and certainly not for commercial websites or forums.
What If I Need to Offer Large Downloads?
you offer your users various
downloads (for example,
software, music or video),
then you need to carefully
consider how much bandwidth
you need to provide.
Hosting accounts offering
250GB of space may seem
sufficient, but if your
files are typically 12-15MB
(or even 100MB+ for videos),
it is easy to see how, with
a few thousand visitors per
month, your bandwidth can
soon be used up.
Hosting companies do not
normally prevent people
downloading or accessing
your website once the
bandwidth limit is reached,
but you may be charged
additional fees to cover the
You may wish to
investigate the use of
Streamload's MediaMax which
provides unlimited file
storage for MP3, Divx,
Anime, Movies, Images, and
also add the ability to
charge your customers for
downloads, make them
searchable, mark them as
Adult Only and even include
them in emails.
Charges are based on the
download width and amount of
storage, although for Home
and Small Business users,
charges are a lot less.
I use a Database
with my Site?
most usual form of using a
database (for example a
stock and prices database
for a shop-front) is a SQL
Query Language) has become
an industry standard means
of formulating queries to
retrieve data from a
database whether it is
stored on your own computer,
or on a server. The
database itself can be
generated using a multitude
of database programs (such
as MS-Access) and uploaded
to your server after any
changes (or even accessed
directly, depending on the
permissions that are set).
languages which are used to
create pages for a web site
(or used to parse forms and
add information to a
database) will have
libraries to allow you to
link them to the database
using SQL. When
choosing a hosting company,
it is recommended that you
check that SQL support is
provided, or at least
available as an add-on at a
later stage if you find it
the Best Value
all depends who you talk to,
as there is a wide
difference in hosting
The cheapest plans which we
could find offered directly
in the UK, tended to offer
only very limited bandwidth
(of around 1GB per month) or
only a low amount of storage
space on the server, unless
you were willing to pay over
£15 per month.
Some hosting companies also
offer hosting for life after
payment of a one-off fee,
whereas others offer hosting
packages from as little as
£1 per month.
you need to go on personal
experience. We find it
hard to see these very cheap
hosting providers can have
an effective long term
business plan or afford to
offer the level of support
of the more expensive
providers and the feedback
on forums tends to underline
this. We would
therefore put these in a
similar category as the free
factors (apart from
experience with support)
have to be bandwidth and
space provided for your
is difficult to judge how
much bandwidth is required,
but our own RWAP
Adventures site, which
is only fairly small and is
also quite limited in its
appeal, uses 1.6Mb of
bandwidth per day on average
Taking all of the above
factors into account, we
eventually settled on two
hosting providers for our
We would however, recommend that you look at these one of these three low cost hosting solutions (which
although based in America, are available worldwide):
(all of which we are affiliates for).
These all offer the same
reliability and access speed
as any other web hosting
company, but pack a lot of
features into a low
price. We have used
these for a number of years
without any issues and in
particular have found their
free technical support
excellent (and always quick
to respond), with a
willingness to assist with
scripts that do not work for
whatever reason as well as
server related queries.
is especially useful for
hosting websites which rely
heavily on scripting, or
require cloud based virtual
hosting (VPS), such as
ASP.Net and PHP based
websites and ones which
require full MS SQL access.
- Unlimited web-space
- Unlimited bandwidth
- No additional advertising or controls added to your webpages
- Fast reliable hosting services.
- CGI-BIN, ASP, Perl, and PHP languages, together with server side includes
- $50 advertising credit with Overture (open a US account with Overture to receive this)
- Front Page Extensions
- MySQL database support
- Online Page Design Tools
- An SSL Secure Server
- Support for RealMedia Audio and Video, Streaming audio, macromedia shockwave and
Flash (subject to bandwidth limits)
- 2500 POP Email accounts, together with an unlimited number of forwarding
email accounts, autoresponders and filtering
- Shopping Cart, guestbook, visitor counters, chat and bulletin boards already setup
- $30 advertising credit with Google AdWords
- Online logo designer and GIF optimiser.
- MIDI file support
- Range of user guides on website design, advertising, creating profits from your
website and search engine optimisation
- Anonymous FTP accounts(if required)
- PHPNuke to provide an automated news system
$3.95pm for 24
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- Host 10 domains on one account.
- Unlimited POP Email accounts.
- Shopping Cart
- Online photo gallery included
- Merchant account to accept credit card payments
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$6.95pm for 36 month package
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