How to Select a Webhost that Fits Your Needs

By Marc Goldman


Whether you're considering starting a website or you have one and want to possibly move it, this article can help you decide what the best webhost means to you.

To begin, every website is hosted on only 3 platforms: Unix, Windows NT, Macintosh

Very few sites are hosted on a MAC server, so the majority of webhosts use Unix or NT. For these reasons we will focus on only those 2 platforms.

Unix and NT both offer various options and have different abilities. Your choice of which platform to use depends on what applications you want your site to run and the amount of control you want to have over your site.

Unix
Unix is the oldest and one of the most widely used operating systems. It is the basis of the internet and most webservers originally ran on a version of Unix. Unix is know as a multitasking operating system which means that it can run many applications at the same time without them affecting each other. This is very important when you consider that hundreds of websites, running thousands of CGI scripts, all receiving thousands of hits could be running on one webserver.

Why Use It?:

It's reliable Ability to host many websites on the same machine. Almost all CGI scripts run better on Unix. Programming flexibility. Much more administrative control.

With Unix, webmasters can really tweak their websites (assuming they know what they are doing) to run at optimal levels. Developers can run CGI scripts and create applications specific to their needs.

Down Sides:

Is case sensitive. It is not an easy operating system to learn. Must use telnet or Ftp to make changes.

Windows NT
NT is a relative newcomer to the webhosting game but it is fast gaining a large share of the business. NT was built to integrate seamlessly with Microsoft's web authoring tool, Frontpage. As such, it is often the perfect solution for newcomers who do not want to learn HTML or CGI programming or deal with the day to day hassles of administering a webserver.

Up Sides:

Can use Microsoft Frontpage to publish your website as opposed to using Ftp or telnet. Can use Cold Fusion. Somewhat easier to administer (especially for the average webmaster). Is not case sensitive.

If you do not plan on learning the in's and out's of the web and administering your site, NT is probably your tool of choice.

Down Sides:

Provides poorer security than Unix. Because of the security issues, the hosting provider will usually institute tighter security measures. Cannot run all CGI scripts although this is changing.

Your needs as the webmaster and your visitors needs will determine the type of webhost and the platform you need.

Once you have done some more research into what platform you need, stop by an independent website like: http://www.tophosts.com and choose one of the top 25 hosts to fulfill your needs.

Some issues to consider while pondering which host to choose:

1.Uptime: This is probably the most critical piece of information you need to know to make an informed decision. How often a server goes down means lost business and lost sales and no one needs that. Our webhost is up 99.9% of the time as compared to the first one we had which was more like 25% of the time.|

2.Bandwidth Usage: Some hosts actually charge you for the amount of traffic you get once you pass a certain percentage. Why on earth would you want to be charged for that? Our webhost offers us unmetered traffic at no extra cost (this is what you should look for). 

3.Server Space: Look for hosts that give 50-500 mg of space. As the technology changes sites will take up more space. You should try to get as much as you can right now even if you don't use it all. 

4.CGI Access: This is critical. You need the ability to use CGI and especially custom CGI. If a host doesn't offer it, run screaming! 

5.MSQL; Real Audio; Real Video; Cold Fusion: This is the future of the web and in particular web marketing. Make sure a host offers support for these applications even if you don't presently have a use for them.

You will be glad that you spent your time doing this research before you jump in and choose a host or switch to a host that provides you with nothing but problems. You deserve the best, go for it.


About the author:

Marc Goldman, Goldbar Enterprises subscribe to The
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