In order to get your web page on the internet, you need a hosting service provider. They range from free hosting services with limited options through expensive business hosting such as colocation and even hosting you run yourself and resell to clients. Which option you choose depends upon how you plan to use your website, how much you want to spend, and how much time you want to spend maintaining the servers that make up the website.
This article will take you through the different options you have when it comes to web hosting so that you can make the best decision for your website and business. And I have used all of these hosting methods at one point or another, so I can tell from experience the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Internet Service Providers
If you want to use the Internet, you need to have an Internet Service Provider (ISP). And many ISPs include a small amount of free web space to create web pages quickly and easily. ISP web pages are perfect for people who want to put up small sites with low amounts of traffic. There are usually rate restrictions, and most ISPs don't offer a lot of features with their web space.
ISP hosting is best for personal web pages that don't get a lot of traffic. If you plan to run a business, you should only use your ISP hosting for testing and preparation of your site, rather than the site itself.
Many DSL and cable internet providers don’t offer this service, but some do, so if this is the hosting you're interested in, be sure to contact your ISP directly for more information.
Free Web Hosting
If you have an ISP that doesn’t offer web space, free web hosting is good. There are many free hosting providers and a lot of them offer advanced services like CGI, shell access, PHP, SSI, and other advanced topics. Free hosting is usually supported by advertising.
Free hosting is best for personal web pages and very small business web pages. Because the majority are supported by advertising, they are not ideal for any serious business. If you plan to run a business on your site, free hosting is great for testing your site and preparing the pages, but not good for running the business unless you can turn off the advertising.
Standard Paid Hosting
With paid hosting, you pay some money typically once a month for space and services on a web hosting provider’s site. Prices range from $1–2 (USD) to several hundred per month. Generally, it depends upon what services you want. Services include CGI access, database support, ASP, ecommerce, SSL, extra space, extra bandwidth, and more.
Standard paid hosting is a great option for most web-based businessses. Be sure to examine the options available from your server so that you get what you need. And don’t focus solely on price - changing hosting providers can be difficult and expensive.
Domain hosting can be hard to understand. Instead of paying for the web page space, you pay for your domain and then have your website hosted anywhere you like. With domain hosting, you can use your ISP or free hosting service, and still reap the benefits of having a personalized website URL. Domain name hosting is sometimes referred to as URL redirection.
Domain name hosting is perfect for small businesses that don't have a lot of money to spend on web hosting.
Colocation puts your web server in the machine room of a larger company. You connect to their very high-speed internet connection. Colocation comes in managed and unmanaged versions.
Colocation is a great option for small to medium sized businesses that want more control over their web hosting. With managed colocation, it’s almost like having an IT department, even if your company is still fairly small.
Direct Internet Access
With direct access, you host your site yourself. You need a web server computer and software and a very high-speed internet connection with a dedicated IP address.
Hosting your site yourself offers you the most control over your web server. Companies that have large data centers or just want to control every aspect of their web and internet access should look into this type of hosting. Be sure to contact your ISP before setting up a direct connection on a DSL or consumer ISP connection.