How to Determine Your Web-Hosting Needs - dummies

By David Karlins, Doug Sahlin

When you create a website — perhaps for a client — you obviously include what is needed: nuts and bolts, bells and whistles. So, it only makes sense that when the site going live is a reality, or close to a reality, you and your client need to find a web-hosting service that supports all the functionality you designed into the site.

You can find web-hosting services by doing an online search. There are also sites that rate hosting services, but take those with a couple of grains of salt due to the fact that some of these sites also sell advertisements, often to the services they rate. However there are still a few rating services that you can trust. One that looks promising is Web Hosting Geeks.

Sometimes the best way to find a good web-hosting service is by word of mouth. If you find a popular website that loads fast, contact the web designer or webmaster and ask her for the name of the hosting service and ask if she’s pleased with them.

Ask yourself these questions to help you choose what features your potential web-hosting service needs to support your site. Remember to balance hosting service support with cost.

  • Will the site have a blog? If your site has a blog, the web-hosting service needs the latest version of PHP to support the blog code.

    The hosting service also needs the latest version of mySQL for security. Unfortunately, nefarious people in this world think a website is fair game if they can hack it. A web-hosting service with the latest versions of server-side software is obviously better equipped to thwart hack attacks.

    Also be sure that the server has the ability to quickly and easily upgrade your server to newer versions of protective software when it is released. When you’re considering a hosting service, ask them if they can update their servers when new editions of PHP and mySQL are issued.

  • Will products or services be sold from the site? If so, you’ll need your web-hosting service to use a secure server. Some sites do use a shared secure server, which is great if the site will use something like PayPal to collect funds.

  • Will your pages have any server-side code? If you create pages that use server-side code — such as Java, ColdFusion Markup Language, PHP, and so on — make sure the service has the software to support the code you create.

  • How much bandwidth do you anticipate using? If the site features movies and other multimedia content, you need to determine the anticipated bandwidth you’ll be using per month. In the beginning, this is just a guesstimation.

    As a baseline, try to determine the file size of each page of the site, and then estimate how many times the page will be viewed per month. Alternatively, you can search the Internet for a bandwidth calculator. You can find a bandwidth calculator at iBeast.

    When you do this calculation, anticipate the best-case scenario for the number of visitors per month and then add a fudge factor of 20 percent for growth.

    Be sure to check out the fine print on the hosting plan to make sure you or your client isn’t charged an exorbitant fee if the usage does exceed the allocated bandwidth.

  • How much file storage is needed? If you have a small website, uploading files to the server obviously won’t take up much space. But if you’re creating a large website that uses lots of graphics and other multimedia (such as video files), that’s probably a different story, so make sure that the hosting plan you choose supports the amount of space that the website files will be using.