Web Hosting Guide

The first stage in publishing your web pages is finding somewhere to host them. The web host deals with all the practicalities of securely storing your web pages in a place where they can be accessed by anyone at any time. This kind of thing can be very complicated and very time consuming if you don't know what you're doing, and it much easier to let someone else deal with it for you.

There are a couple of options for choosing your web hosting depending on your budget and the nature of your website.

Free web hosting

Free web hosting is perfect for anyone who is looking to set up a low traffic website, such as a personal home page. You simply set up your free account, upload your files, and you're done. Now of course these hosts have to pay for their servers and fast internet connections somehow, and the most common way they do this is by placing advertising on your web pages, usually in the form of a small banner at the top of each of your pages.

With free hosting you are also given a fairly restricted account. For example you may be limited to 100mb of storage space and 200mb of data transfer per month ("bandwidth"). This is normally ok for a very small site such as a personal home page, but is unlikely to be enough if, for example, you run an online business.

Paid web hosting

If you're serious about websites then you'll soon realize that free web hosting just won't offer you everything you need (although it is a great place to start). If this is the case then it's time to explore paid web hosting. The monthly fees for paid web hosting are very reasonable indeed, and you get a lot more storage space and bandwidth for your site. Many hosting packages also come with a free domain name for your site.

There are thousands of web hosting companies out there, all fighting for your business, so if you shop around you can be sure to get a great deal. Don't just jump at the cheapest host you find though because you may find that there is good reason why they are so cheap.

Before signing up for paid web hosting you should ensure that they offer enough storage space and bandwidth, and any other features you want such as PHP or ASP support. Then look them up on search engines to find other people's opinions (try searching for the company name plus the word "reviews" or "opinions").