5 Minute Guide to Web Hosting for Beginners by Bruce Zhang
Seasoned webmasters can easily setup a new website in minutes with one of their preferred hosting companies. Novice webmasters are often confused by the various web hosting plans - affordable web hosting, Cheap Web hosting, ASP Web Hosting, Budget Hosting, Dedicated Servers, eCommerce Hosting, FrontPage Web Hosting, Hosting With Templates, Managed Web Hosting, PHP Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, Shared Hosting, Unix / Linux Hosting, Virtual Private Servers, Windows Hosting and Co-location Hosting.
There're really a few things to look at while choosing a web hosting plan whether you run a hobby site, a small business site, or a high-traffic ecommerce site. In fact, all web hosting plans and terminologies can be classified in terms of cost, programming languages, operation systems, Web servers and functionality.
Cost - Cost of web hosting is the first thing that many small site owners are looking for. Most of web hosting plans cost less than $10 a month. Affordable web hosting, budget hosting or cheap web hosting plan often cost less than $5 per month.
Programming Languages - Whether you want to write your own scripts or install customized software packages, you want to choose the hosting plans that support the programming languages of your choice. The commonly used Web development languages include PHP, ASP, JSP and PERL. The hosting plans that support those programming languages are referred as PHP Web hosting, ASP Web hosting, JSP Web hosting or PERL Web hosting. Almost all hosting companies support PHP/MySQL, but only a fraction of them support ASP or JSP. For beginners, PHP/MySQL is the choice for programming language.
Operating Systems - Once you've picked up the programming language(s) for your Web development, you still have freedom to choose the operating system that hosts your Websites. Besides ASP which works only on Microsoft Windows, other programming languages, PHP, JSP and PERL, work on Windows, Unix and Linux. Hosting plans that support particular operating systems are referred as Window Hosting, Unix Hosting or Linux hosting.
Servers - Apache is the most widely supported Web server in Web hosting industry. One of nice things about Apache server is the ability of mod_rewrite to make dynamic URL look like static URL or SEO-friendly among other things. ASP works only on Mirosoft Internet Information Server or IIS server. Weblogic or Websphere is needed for JSP hosting.
Performance - When webmasters are talking about Web servers, they're most interested in the server performance - Managed Web Hosting, Shared Hosting, Dedicated Servers, or Virtual Private Servers (VPS). Shared hosting is the cheapest plan, and you can host as many sites as you like with a Reseller Hosting option. VPS costs around $50 a month, and Dedicated Server plan will cost from $50 - $100 or more a month dependent on storage space and bandwidth of the hosting plan. A shared hosting is good enough for most of websites. If your website serves heavy audio/video files, or needs to frequently install customized software package, you'll need a dedicated server. For example, a company that sells Computer Based Training (CBT) software online upgraded its hosting plan from a shared hosting to a dedicated hosting plan in the first 6 months of online operation as the company started to use video/audio support to boost online sales.
Online Transaction Support - Websites that accept payment online require support of secure connection (HTTPS) and digital certification to conduct online transaction safely. The alternative of having your own online merchant account is to use a third party payment processor for payment process. Integration of paypal shopping cart only takes about a few minutes without any knowledge of programming skills.
After all, choosing a web hosting plan that works for you isn't that complex, even for the beginners.
Copyright @2005, Bruce Zhang
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About the Author
Bruce Zhang has over 10 years of experience in web development. He currently manages dozens of websites using Dedicated Servers, eCommerce Hosting, Managed Web Hosting and Unix / Linux Hosting for web hosting needs.