Are you paying too much for your web hosting?

Are Web Hosting Costs Too High?

When many people start out looking for a web hosting service they often don’t know what is needed to set up a website with web host. They aren’t familiar with the different aspects of web hosting or the costs that are involved in providing web hosting for a website. As a matter of fact, many web hosting shoppers don’t have a clear understanding of bandwidth, disk space, or subdomains as they relate to web hosting, so they really have no idea what they’re paying for when they purchase a hosting package.

Let’s talk about several different aspects web hosting that you should be aware of before purchasing from a web hosting provider. This will give you a better understanding of what to look for and what you are purchasing from the hosting provider. This will help you save money and ensure that you buy what you need, and only what you need, for your web hosting needs.

Disk Space
It’s important for you to know how big your website currently is. By this I mean the total size, in megabytes, of all the files that make up your website. When you’re looking for a plan, if your website is currently 300 MB in size, make sure that you choose a plan that’s provides you with at least 350 or 400 MB in disk space. This will allow for extra growth at no extra cost to you and saves problems in the future. Most websites however are under 5 MB, and most hosts provide 1,000 MB or more, so you shouldn’t need to worry about it too much.

Bandwidth
Your web hosting plan will also have a bandwidth limit. You’ll want to make sure that you don’t exceed your bandwidth limit because there are usually extra charges for going over the limit. Some web hosting companies will provide a bandwidth calculator for you to determine how much bandwidth you actually need for your website. Just as with disk space, make sure you get a little bit more than what you actually need, and always find out what the additional costs are for exceeding the limit.

Block Buying
Make sure to find out if your web host offers block buying. Block buying is basically being able to purchase extra disk space or bandwidth whenever you need it. Such as, if you’re expecting an increase in traffic for a short period of time and don’t want to exceed your limits. This is very advantageous, because you don’t need to buy a 5 GB hosting plan when you will only be using 2 GB 97% of the time. A great web host will also e-mail you to warn you of possible over usage in advance to help make sure that you don’t exceed your limits, and can buy extra space if needed.

Number Of Websites
As your internet business expands, you may want to create new and different websites to accommodate your growth. Find out if your web host allows you to host an unlimited number of domains on one account, as this will help you save even more money.

Databases And Applications
In order to compete with the rest of the industry, most web hosting companies have databases and applications available for their customers to use. FrontPage extensions, MySQL, ASP, CGI, PHP and Perl are just a few that good web hosts offer their customers. Make sure that you’re not being charged extra for these common databases and applications.

E-mail
You have to have e-mail in order to operate your online business. Make sure that the web host will provide you with enough e-mail addresses for your domain name. Most companies allow unlimited e-mail addresses for each domain name and you shouldn’t have to pay any additional cost for the e-mail service.

Long-Term Contracts
Make sure that you are completely satisfied with the service on a monthly basis before you actually pay for long-term contracts, like yearly contracts. If you’re having problems with your service or support and you’re on a monthly payment plan, it’s easy to find a new host somewhere else, but if you’re tied to a yearly plan, you may have a lot of trouble trying to get a refund for the unused portion of your contract.

To make sure that you’re not paying too much for your web hosting needs, check that your web hosting company will provide the items detailed above. A great web hosting companies tells you all the costs for your account up front, and doesn’t try to sneak in extra charges for things that should already be free or included in the price of your contract.

How does a website benefit your business?

If your idea of a typical day at the office includes tripping over stacks upon stacks of work documents and expense receipts, or elbowing your way through people trying to get to your chair for the conference call, then it might be time for you to step into the 21st century and set up a website for your company.

You may be asking, “Why should I have a website?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Let me explain some of the most important reasons why you need a website:
A website for yourself or for your company establishes a worldwide presence for you in just a matter of moments. A website can be reached by anyone in the world with an internet connection and an interest in what you have to offer them. You can sell your products and services to people that live in your own city as well as people that live all across Europe, Africa, and Asia. A website allows you to connect with and show countless people what it is that you do and how you can be of service to them.

If you own your own business, your website can be a central database that answers questions for clients, describes your services to clients, and even allows clients to interact with you to find out more information about you and your services. Just by making a few simple clicks of the mouse, people interested in your products or services can immediately access the information they desire and determine whether or not they want to do business with you. A website allows you to establish your own identity on the internet, and it can be much better than any well-designed business card could ever be.

Not only can a website be a way of establishing your company on the internet, it can also be a way for you to organize your business as well. A website is an excellent place to store documents, spreadsheets, reports, and even graphics that are important to your business but take up too much space in your office. There’s no need to trip over those items while walking through your office when it’s so easy to simply scan them and save them to your website where everyone can view them and reduce space used within your actual office.

A website is also an excellent way for you to stay in constant communication with your employees, especially if you outsource a lot of your work. A website can enable you to easily communicate through e-mail as well as online forums. You can even do live chats online with clients and employees in real time to stay on top of your business needs.
Most importantly, having a website for yourself or for your business gives you a competitive advantage over other companies and businesses in your same area of expertise. Simply having a website establishes the fact that you’re thinking globally and not just locally and that you have no limitations placed on what you feel that you can confidently accomplish for your customers.

Dedicated Server Benefits

For most people, when they first hear the phrase “dedicated server”, it makes them a little nervous because they don’t understand exactly what that is. Don’t worry. It’s nothing complicated. As a matter of fact, let’s take a look at the differences between a shared server and a dedicated server.

A shared server, or shared web hosting, is whenever you purchase a domain and web space that is shared on a server with other accounts and other clients. You will share the overall web space and the overall bandwidth as well. In some cases, this can cause problems because you’re sharing your web hosting with other people and sometimes shared hosting accounts can have problems like web hosting overload, problem codes, and even irritating scripts that others need to use but you don’t. One of the main things to keep in mind with shared servers or shared web hosting is that no matter how good they are or how well supervised they may be, they may not be 100% stable and reliable for you.

A dedicated server is your very own server that is dedicated just to you and your websites. To break it down a little better, on a dedicated server you don’t have to share space and bandwidth, or worry about running software programs and other applications that you don’t really need to use. With a dedicated server, you’re only running the software programs and the applications that you need for your domains. One main advantage of having a dedicated server is that it greatly reduces how much you actually depend upon your web host to resolve any troubles that you may have with a shared server. That’s important because if your web host is slow to take care of any problems that you’re having with your domain or your web hosting, then you may be losing clients and money. With your own dedicated server, you can take care of the vast majority of your own problems as well as any problems any of your clients may be having as well. You don’t have to wait on anyone, you don’t have to wait on hold to get a representative, you don’t have to wait for a trouble ticket to be replied to, and you can take care of the problems yourself because you have direct access to your own dedicated server. This type of reliability can easily pay for itself many times over.

When you are running a website, you want people to know that your website will be there no matter what. You need reliability and dependability in order to be successful. A dedicated server provides this to you and much more. You may think at first it’s too expensive to upgrade to a dedicated server of your own. But a quick look at your website statistics of the number of people that are leaving your site because it takes too long to download, may just show that it is a worthy expense. If your websites are running slow, have a lot of down time, or you can’t seem to get in touch with technical support for problems that you have with your websites, then it may be time for you to go ahead and move over to your very own dedicated server.

Tips on Choosing a Web Host

If you’ve spent any time online investigating different web hosting companies, I’m sure that you’ve seen many great offers available for your web hosting needs. As a matter of fact, you may have your credit card out and be ready to click the purchase button, but before you do, let’s test the waters of the web hosting company you have your eyes set on.
The best way to test your potential web hosting company is to ask them questions concerning their service and support. You’ll always want to send a test email to their technical support department or their customer service department and see how long it takes for them to respond to you. If it takes a long time to receive a response, you might want to look elsewhere for web hosting.
Be sure to read over the company’s “Frequently Asked Questions” page before you email them. This lets the company know that you have tried to answer the question yourself and that you’re not just asking blindly. Any questions that you ask should be stated in a way that reflects that you’ve looked over the site and you just want to know if the information is up-to-date and currently accurate.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the questions that you could ask a web hosting company before you purchase their service:
1. Do you offer discounts if I pay six months in advance or one year in advance? If so, how much of a discount will I receive?
2. Does your company charge a setup fee for my service? If so, how much is the setup fee?
3. Does your company provide any type of money back guarantee or a trial period to see if I even like the service?
4. Can you give me a list of websites that are hosted with your company? I’d like to get feedback from other customers that use your web hosting service.
5. Once I pay for the service, how long will it take for me to be up and running?
6. Will your company let me use my own domain name? If I can use my own domain name, how long does it take to transfer or register my domain name with your company?
7. What are the different types of technical support that you offer to your customers? Do you offer e-mail support? Do you offer toll-free telephone support? What are your hours of operation? What is your average response time to technical support questions?
8. Will my web hosting account be on a shared server? If so, how many other sites will be on the same server with mine?
9. Does my web hosting account come with any type of mailing list program for announcements? If so, what are the limitations for that mailing list service?
10. Whenever I set up my web hosting account with your company, will I have the ability to set up, change, or delete e-mail accounts myself?
11. Does my web hosting account come with any type of statistics package? If it does, can you tell me more about it?
12. What makes your company different or better from all of the other web hosting companies that I have seen online?

What is the number one reason why I should choose your service?
As you can see, these are just some of the questions that you can ask of any web hosting company before you give them your credit card number. As you start asking questions, you’ll also come up with more questions that you’ll want to ask. Remember, as you’re asking these questions, make a note of their response times and see just how long it takes them to respond to you. Make sure they answer all of your questions and don’t skip any of your questions as well. At first, you may think you’re being picky, but in the long term you’ll be glad that you did.

What are Meta Tags?

As you build your own website you will learn that there are certain aspects of your webpages that are more important than others. For a basic website, most of your webpages will be made with HTML, and HTML contains some important code that you should take a look at and have a basic understanding of. Some of the most important codes within the HTML format are the META tags so we’re going to examine those in some detail.
META tags are properly used within an HTML page and all META tags should also be placed within the and tags within your HTML page.
If you study this even further, you will find that there are many different META tags that you can use in your webpages. What we’re going to focus at this time is taking a look at the three main META tags, which are the Title, Keywords, and Description tags.

Starting with the Title tag, it’s basically what it says that it is. It’s the title of your webpage and it can also include a short description of the page as well. All title tags will appear like this in your web pages: Title words
Whenever you take a look at HTML pages, you will see that the majority of them have two types of META tags. The first one is the META DESCRIPTION tag and this is a tag that is used by some search engines as your site description in their search results. It could also be used to increase search engine ranking results because of the keywords it contains.
The Description tag is your time to really express what the site or the webpage is all about. Less is more here and you want to try to detail your site as much as you can in the description with approximately 200-250 words. You’ll also want to include your most important keywords in the description of your site.

The other important META tag is the META KEYWORD tag which is essentially a list of keywords that will be found on your webpages that you want search engines to recognize. For example, is someone searches for “used cars California” and that’s what your website is about, you’ll want to include the keyword phrase “used cars California” under your KEYWORD META tags.
The Keyword tag tells the search engine spiders what that particular page is about. You’ll need to separate all of your keywords and keyword phrases with a comma and always place your most important keywords first in your keyword META tag. Put the primary keywords that your site is about first and then add any secondary keywords related to your site afterwards.
Many search engine optimization fades have come and gone since the beginning of the internet, but as far as web design goes, focusing on these tags have made many websites very successful for keyword optimization and high search engine rankings. Although there are many more tags that you can use for your website, these are the main ones to use and to focus on to achieve the best search engine optimization.

Searching for a web host?

If you do a simple Google search for web hosting companies, you’ll find that there are a lot of them online. A LOT of them.

It takes a little bit of experience to tell which ones are the real deal and which ones aren’t. If you have no clue about which company you should choose, let me give you some suggestions to make the decision process much easier for you.

First, ask yourself what you need in a web hosting company. Are there particular features you want your site to have? Are there any particular programming languages you want to use? Do you already get a lot of traffic to your site? Will they host unlimited domains? Do they provide POP3 email addresses? These are just some of the basics features that you’ll need for your site.

Second, be realistic in your search for the perfect web hosting company. You’ll find that there are many companies out there that claim to offer “unlimited bandwidth” and then they will try to charge you for any bandwidth that you use. The truth is that bandwidth costs web hosting companies money and they will pass that charge on to you. Pay special attention to the company’s terms of service and don’t fall for this trap.

Third, always test the web hosts’ support services. This is a great indicator of what your relationship will be like if you choose to do business with them. Simply send them a support question about a basic feature and see how long it takes for them to reply to you. If it takes them a long time to reply to you for a basic support issue, how long do you think it’ll take them to reply to a more serious support issue?

Fourth, find out how reputable the web host is. Go to web hosts forums and see what people are saying about the web host that you’re considering. If they have a page on their site dedicated to testimonials, try to contact some of the clients and ask them questions. See what they have to say about the company. Find out all that you can about the company before you give them your credit card number.

Once you have answered all of the above questions and thoroughly researched the web hosting company, it’s time to get started. When you sign up with a web host, be sure to allow your site some room to grow, so allow your site more size in megabytes for that growth. If you’re currently only using 5 megabytes, upgrade to 10 megabytes. Be sure to provide adequately for you needs. If you host a lot of images, be sure that you add more size to your site because you can use up a lot of bandwidth quick. In most cases, a normal HTML website with a few images will be fine with 15 to 20 megabytes and 2-3 gigabytes of bandwidth.

Be sure that the hosting company that you choose will be able to support your domain name. Most hosting companies will allow you to host unlimited domains on the same hosting account and this is a great way to take care of all of your sites in one place. Also, most hosting companies will allow you several (100 or more) custom POP3 email accounts on your domain for no extra charge. This will allow you to have several email addresses for specific things and help you to keep your email organized.

Most companies use either Windows or Linux as the programming language for their hosting service. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two and how they will affect you.

Linux

” Usually much cheaper than Windows. PHP and MySQL should be offered as well (at least PHP).
” Telnet accounts may be available for little or no additional cost.

Linux is a free operating system, so all Linux based databases and languages are free to install and this affects the bottom line with lower costs to you. Perl should be supported with sendmail support for any formmail scripts. SSI is nice, along with .htaccess. Most budget conscious web designers use Linux. Also, Linux is more secure than Windows and allows more configuration options and advanced customizations than Windows does.

Windows

” Supports ASP. Costs more than Linux.
” Cold Fusion, Access, and SQL Server support are usually provided at an additional cost.

Prices are usually higher with Windows because Windows based servers are more expensive to purchase and the costs are passed on to the customer. If you have any important database work to be done, do it through SQL Server. The extra features that come with a Windows host are going to cost you, so be prepared to pay a bit more for it.

So there you have it. If you’re new to all of this, you may find that a simple Linux based host will be all that you need and you’ll save some money with them. If you’re using Microsoft Access databases for the web, you’re going to need a Windows hosting company with Access support.

Take your time, test the support services and response times, get comments and testimonials from other customers, and make sure your requirements match what the company offers. By following this advice, you’re going to have a much easier time finding a web hosting company that fits you and your needs. Good luck!

What is a Merchant Account?

So you’ve created a website and now the question is this: Are you going to make it an informational site or are you going to sell your products and services from your site? If you decide to sell your products or services, you’ll need to be able to accept credit cards. I’ve created a list of questions that you should ask any credit card processor. These questions will help you to know what to expect from these companies and choose the merchant account provider that will work best for you.

Do they charge an upfront application fee?
You’ll find that most companies do charge an application fee which is usually $25 and it has to be paid up front. Some companies charge much less then this ($10-$15) and some companies don’t even charge an application fee.

Do they charge a set up fee?
Again, you’ll find that some credit card processing companies do and some don’t. In most cases, what you’re selling will determine if there is a set up fee and how much it is. Some companies won’t charge a set up fee and some will charge a few hundred dollars. Be sure you know what the charge will be up front so that there are no surprises.

What is a virtual terminal?
Here is a great example of a virtual terminal:
http://www.eadvancedpaymentsolutions.com/vterm.html. A virtual terminal is basically the online version of swiping your credit card at a department store. It handles the transaction in real time, verifies the credit card information, and even completes the sale by sending electronic notification of the transaction to the buyer’s email address.

And it does all of that in only a few seconds, which is usually faster than most department stores.

What does the virtual terminal cost?
Prices have lowered considerably in recent years for this service. Some companies charged as high as a few thousand dollars for a virtual terminal and some companies would lease it for $40-$60 per month. Nowadays, virtual terminals can cost as low as $100-$300 with the price varying by the type of product or service that you’re selling. And monthly fees have lowered as well to about $10-$20 per month for a virtual terminal. If you dig a little deeper, you can also find some companies that don’t charge a dime for a virtual terminal, so be sure to do your research thoroughly.

What are the customary rates and monthly fees?
Rates and fees will vary depending on the company and the types of products being sold, but it is a fact that if you accept credit card payments, you’ll make 50-1000% more in sales. If you are selling any type of product or service online, it is an absolute must to be able to accept credit card payments. If you don’t know what you should be charged from a credit card processor, you should contact your web hosting company. There are many credit card processors that have specials deals in place for customers of particular web hosts and you need to find out if your web host has that type of discount available for you.

Web Hosting FAQ

Frequently Asked Web Hosting Questions
So you think it’s time to have your very own website? Great! Now all that you need to do is select a quality web hosting company to do the heavy lifting for you.

It’s very important that you choose the best web hosting company that you can find. However, this can be a little overwhelming at first, especially when you don’t know much of all the technical mumbo jumbo that will be thrown your way.

Never fear! This list is here to help you! It’s a list of the most frequently asked web hosting questions with simple and easy to understand answers.

Question: Can someone please tell me what a web host is?

Answer: Sure! A web host is a company that provides you with a place online to put your website. They store all of the files for your website on their servers. When someone types in your website address, the web host shows them your site.

Question: I’ve heard that web hosts are really expensive. Is this true?

Answer: Different web hosts charge different prices. It’s easy for you to find a great web host that doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for their service, though. Web host fees frequently range from $20-$50 per month for approximately 50 megabytes of space. It’s all determined by the web host and what your particular needs are.

Question: Why can’t I just use one of them free web hosting companies? They’re reliable, right?

Answer: To be honest, most free web hosting services are very unreliable and you can’t afford to lose your business to their unreliability. Most of them live to serve their advertisers, not you, and most of them look very unprofessional. If you’ve spent the time and money to secure a domain name and get your professional web site designed, don’t throw it all away on free, unreliable web hosts. Invest in your site and don’t risk your success.

Question: I can’t take it anymore! I’ve lost count of how many web hosts I’ve tried and the service was always pathetic! Who should I use? Can you tell me about any really, really good web hosts?

Answer: I completely understand your frustration. To help you find the best web host I’ve complied a list of questions you should ask any web host whose services you are considering:

Do they offer fast connections?
If you have a power outage, do you have a way of backing up your data to protect it?
Do you want me to make payments in advance?
Do I have to agree to any long-term contracts?
Will I be charged set up fees
What is your customer support like? (Send a test email to find out for yourself.)
How do you handle order processing? Do you allow free access to a secure server?
Do they offer shopping cart software to process
your orders?
Do they provide you with an online Web Site Manager?
Do you provide an easy to understand online support manual
Look them up online and read other users reviews.

These are some key features that your web host must have:

1. They must have reliable 24/7 tech support.
2. They must be able to provide you with at least one domain name (www.yourname.com).
3. They must provide at least 10GB of monthly transfer (traffic).
4. They must allow a minimum of 20MB – 50MB of server space.
5. They must provide unlimited true POP email accounts – name@yourdomain.com.
6. They must allow unlimited email aliases.
7. They must provide email forwarding.
8. They must provide unlimited autoresponders.
9. They must give you your own unrestricted CGI-Bin.
10. They must allow access to SSL Encryption for secure transactions.
11. They must provide a MySQL Database.
12. They must use Perl.
13. They must provide htaccess password protection.
14. They must allow Server Side Includes (SSI) support.
15. They must allow the ability to design (and upload to) your site using Netscape or other
HTML editing software.
16. They must allow Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions for those utilizing FrontPage .
17. They must provide unlimited free access to your server via FTP/Telnet.
18. They must provide easy access to your log files.
19. They must provide statistics on visits to your site.
20. They must have an Affiliate Program

Don’t always go with the cheapest solution for web hosting for your site. If you find a host that only charges $5-$15 per month, you’ll more than likely find that their customer service stinks, their technical support is horrible and you site is down more than it’s up.

Quality, reliable web hosting is a business investment and you don’t want to lose business simply because you choose cheaper over reliability.

Picking a Good Web Host

How To Pick a Great Web Hosting Provider
Let’s talk about the basics required to know that you have found a great web hosting provider, shall we? There are several key areas that we will look at to determine this:

Back End/Network Operations Centers
It’s important to know how the web hosting provider handles your accounts. Sometimes they have their very own operation center and sometimes they lease from a much larger network. If they don’t have their own operation center, then your accounts will be subject to the network that they are leasing from. Also, you need to ask these important questions: Do they use fiber optic connections? Do they provide any type of redundancy? What’s their security like? Are they managed 24/7, including holidays? You need your accounts to be online and protected at all times.

Customer Service
Customer service is of utmost importance when choosing a web hosting provider. Don’t give your business to a company that acts like you bother them whenever you have questions or concerns. Choose a company that will take the time to answer your questions and address your needs in a timely manner and in a friendly fashion. Don’t deal with a company that places you on long holds or never responds to your emails. Also, make sure that their reps know what they are talking about. All these things will be of the utmost importance if you site has a problem in the middle of a big sale. A great way that a web hosting company can communicate with their clients is through a network page that lets customers know if there are any network problems or unexpected down time.

Technical Support
Technical support is just as important as great customer service. You need prompt technical support. You should always test their response times by sending them a basic technical support question and see how long it takes them to respond. Also, do they make you pay for the call or do they have a toll free technical support number?

Ticketing Systems
When choosing your web hosting provider, you really need to see if they have a ticketing system in place. This is the best way to know whether or not your web hosting provider is serious about improving their service. A ticketing system tracks their performance times and is an indicator that tells them whether they are improving or doing worse.

Domain Names
A web hosting provider that provides the ability to purchase domain names with their service helps the customer to have all of the services they need in one spot. This makes things easier for you and most web hosting providers will give you a discount on new domains that are hosted with them.

Branding You
Branded support is a great way for a web hosting provider to stand out from the crowd. By offering this service, they are telling you that they are interested in your growth and success. Branded support will allow you to have your very own technician that represents your company. It also allows you to have your very own control panels and name servers. Adding this feature to your services should be really easy to do.

Scalable Discounts
As you grow and give more and more of your business to the web hosting provider, you need to take advantage of any discounts that you can get. See if your web hosting provider will give you discounts and better pricing to help reduce your costs.

Financial Overview
Make sure that your investment in a web hosting company is a secure investment. You want to make sure that the company is financially stable and not a fly by night operation. Make sure they’re in it for the long haul. Are they experiencing growth? If so, how are they prepared for it? Are they planning to sell or do they plan to expand their services? These are very important questions that you should ask of them. If they sell off or are facing financially hard times, this could drastically affect your online business.

Choosing Your Top Level Domain (TLD)

Once you have figured out a name for your ‘domain’ it can be really confusing trying to decide on what should go after the “dot” (i.e. com, net, org, etc…) in your domain name. This part of the domain name is referred to as a top-level domain (TLD) and knowing the difference between each top-level domain is important when choosing your domain name.

Below are the descriptions of the best known top-level domains:

.com – This is the most popular TLD. It is used mainly for US commercial organizations. BUT, in its capacity, it represents the highest standing for any domain name. Anyone can have a ‘.com’, but it is more difficult to think up a unique name that hasn’t already been registered.

.net – This is the second most popular TLD. It generally describes the entity owning the domain name as a network and is used mainly by organizations that provide network connection services.

.gov – Generally used for government agencies.

.int – Intended to be used for sites relating to International Treaties or containing international databases. For this reason, it is not widely used.

.mil – Mainly used by military organizations of the US government.

.org – In general, non-profit organizations tend to use this extension.

.name – This is a new TLD and is intended to allow individuals to register their names (i.e. firstname.lastname.name) as a personal domain name on the Internet.

.biz – This is a new TLD for businesses; ‘.biz’ is intended to be an alternative to the ‘.com’.

.info – This is also new, and is freely available to anyone with a business, government or non-commercial site.

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