Compare Web Hosting Services - dummies

Compare Web Hosting Services

Basic requirements need to be in place before you can install WordPress on a web server. Explore web hosting environments and know which factors to take into consideration to determine the type of hosting environment needed for the job. Hosting services generally provide (at least) these services with your account:

  • Hard drive space: This is nothing more complicated than the hard drive on your own computer. Each hard drive has the capacity, or space, for a certain amount of files. An 80GB (gigabyte) hard drive can hold 80GB of data — no more. Your hosting account provides you with a limited amount of hard drive space, and the same concept applies.

    If your web host provides you 10GB of hard drive space, that’s the limit on the file size that you’re allowed to have. If you want more hard drive space, you need to upgrade your space limitations. Most web hosts have a mechanism in place for you to upgrade your allotment.

    For a new self-hosted WordPress website, you don’t need much hard drive space at all. A good starting point is 3–5GB of storage space. If you find that you need additional space in the future, you can contact your hosting provider for a space upgrade.

    Web sites that run large files — such as video, audio, or photo files — generally benefit from more hard drive space compared with sites that don’t involve large files. Keep this point in mind when you sign up for your hosting account. Planning now will save you a few headaches down the road.

  • Bandwidth (transfer): Bandwidth is the amount of data that’s carried from point A to point B within a specific period (usually, only a second or two). Every web hosting provider offers a variety of bandwidth limits on the accounts it offers. When you want to view a website in your browser window, the bandwidth is essentially the pipe that lets the data flow from the hosting site to your computer and appear on your monitor. The bandwidth limit says the “pipe” can hold only a certain amount of data before it reaches maximum capacity.

    Your bandwidth pipe size is determined by how much bandwidth your web host allows for your account — the larger the number, the bigger the pipe. A 50MB bandwidth limit makes for a smaller pipe than a 100MB limit.

    Web hosts are pretty generous with the amount of bandwidth they provide in their packages. Like hard drive space, bandwidth is measured in gigabytes. A bandwidth provision of 10–50GB is generally a respectable amount to run a website with a blog.

  • Domain e-mail with web mail access: The host allows you to have an e-mail address that has your own, unique domain name.

  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP) access: FTP gives you the ability to transfer files from your computer to your web hosting account, and vice versa.

  • Comprehensive website statistics: View detailed information on the traffic that your website receives on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis.

  • MySQL database(s): This is the database system that WordPress uses to store your data.

  • PHP: PHP is the programming language that WordPress is built on.

Because you intend to run WordPress on your web server, you need to look for a host that provides the current recommended, minimum requirements needed to run the WordPress software on your hosting account, which are

  • PHP version 5.0 (or greater)

  • MySQL version 5.0 (or greater)

The easiest way to find out whether a host meets the minimum requirements is to check the FAQ section of the host’s website, if it has one. If not, find the contact information for the hosting company and fire off an e-mail requesting information on what exactly it supports.

A few web hosting providers offer free domain name registration when you sign up for hosting services. Research how a hosting provider handles domain registration and read its terms of service because that free domain name may come with conditions. Some people have gone this route, only to find out a few months later that the web hosting provider has full control of the domain name and they aren’t allowed to move that domain off the host’s servers, either for a set period (usually, a year or two) or for infinity. It’s always best to have the control in your hands, not someone else’s, so try and stick with an independent domain registrar, such as Network Solutions.