Hosting providers

Many of my readers will already have or will be thinking about getting a website of their own so recent readers question seemed like a good opportunity to take a fresh look at a subject I have discussed in the past.

I’m looking for some help with setting up a website and whilst I believe I’ll be okay with the construction of the site how do I choose who to use as the host?As I see it there are several choices; either going for an aggressive advertiser like 1&1 or Fasthosts or going with someone like Bravenet and living with the pop-up adverts?I am finding it difficult establishing whether some of these names are little better than cowboys and likely to crash & burn in the near future.

There is so much information that amateurs like me feel overwhelmed; I am after all only making this site for a relatively small social organisation.

I already own the required domain name which I purchased from a company called ‘LoCostNames’ and so I was wondering if hosting companies charge extra or give discounts if you join their service with the domain name already registered?What are things like ASP & Perl and would I need a degree in computer science to operate a site effectively?

Finally, who hosts your www.refreshcartridges.co.uk site and are they satisfactory? I’m sorry to ask what are probably really thick questions but information overload can sometimes make you feel very inadequate!

Pat Chimes, via E-mail

Pat asked a number of good questions which I hope that I will be able to resolve.To cover the basics for those who aren’t quite up to speed I should explain that when creating a website you are required to have your domain name registered (i.e. www.microsoft.com) along with arranging for a company to host the files that will be viewed by your guests.The alternative is to use the free webspace that most ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) will offer you but this is extremely unprofessional and should be avoided by all but the smallest & stingiest sites.

The question regarding which host to go for is unfortunately a little too generic as obviously different people have different needs and so there isn’t really any one answer that I can give here.I would strongly advise against going for a host that supports a free service by exposing your visitors to pop-ups as this is EXTREMELY annoying for those browsing your site.

I have always found that if running a website on a shoe-string then a company called Freeola (www.freeola.com) is definitely worth a look since it is free of charge, fast and reliable.On the downside, it is missing some of the more advanced functions that the paid hosting companies provide and you have to dial a local call rate number to upload files rather than using your standard ISP connection; for a free service however, this is perfectly acceptable.

If you are considering a paid host then it may be worth your while to type their name followed by the word ‘review’ into your favourite search engine as if the company is practising cowboy tactics then you will usually find quite a few people slating them.I don’t feel qualified enough to recommend a particular paid hosting company as my website, www.refreshcartridges.co.uk is hosted by RedStation and whilst they are more than acceptable I don’t rate them particularly well so we will be changing when our year contract has expired.

With regards to getting a discount since you have already registered your domain name, unfortunately most hosting providers will actually charge you more to bring it with you as the majority of them have introductory offers to encourage users to register a domain name at a subsidised price with free hosting thrown in to the package.They then rely on the theory that once your first year worth of free hosting has expired that you will then start paying their standard rates for years to come.

Finally we come to the subject of Perl and ASP; you probably won’t have to worry about them for a simple site as these are established programming languages that can be used to support features such as mailing lists and guestbooks.If you find that you require additional features in the future than your current host provider can support then do bear in mind that you can always change at some point down the line.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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