What’s in a host?

As published on Hybrid Mom

In a previous article, I wrote about What to Look for in a Web Designer.  Along with a web designer, your site also will need a domain name (internet address) AND a host.

When you’re quoted a price by a web designer to design your new website, the costs of web hosting often aren’t included. If it’s not mentioned, ask.  This is an area where there should be full disclosure.  Where is your account being hosted?  For how long?  For how much?

What is a Host?
They’re your office building. They hold the pages that make up your site and display them on the internet. They deliver your site to the internet so that it can be found. In a nutshell, a host is connected to all of the routers around the world necessary to populate and inform the internet of your website’s presence. It’s the holder of your domain name (website address). It’s the keeper of your email address and the “storefront” of your website.

Prices may vary, but on average (at the time this article was written), I find that web hosting should cost you around $200.00 for 2 years and will preferably include unlimited bandwidth and storage space. Some hosts may cost more, and some may cost less–make sure you examine all the features offered to ensure you are getting what you need for the money. Most of the work of figuring out what you need is your web developers responsibility but it certainly doesn’t hurt for you to know and understand what you’re paying for. FYI, your host relationship can outlive your partnership with your web designer.

All Hosts are not created equal. Important things to know about your host are:

  • How long have they been in business? I personally would not choose a new company. Make sure they have the experience to handle such a large responsibility.
  • What is their up-time? (i.e. how long are they up and running with no problems as opposed to the amount of time that their servers are down due to unexpected crashes and scheduled maintenance).  I expect no less than 99% up-time from my hosting companies.
  • What limits are they going to put on the amount of data that you store (disk storage)? Many hosts in the $200 range offer unlimited storage.
  • What limits do they have for the amount of traffic that your site generates (bandwidth)?  Again, many hosts offer unlimited bandwidth. Beware those that try to cap you or want to charge you extra beyond a certain amount of disk storage or bandwidth.
  • How many email accounts are you allowed?
  • How many domain names can you have under one hosting agreement? If you want to open a second business, you shouldn’t have to pay hosting twice… domain name costs would be extra but that’s it.  One domain name should be included with the cost of your hosted account.

Your web designer may very well tell you that they’ll host your site. Those costs could be padded into the cost of your web design and could impact the base cost of your website. Personally, I’d want to be the holder of my own host. Sure, let the designer get it for me, but I’d want it in my name and under my control should I decide at some point I want a different web designer or would like to dabble in web design myself! Not to mention that this is a fast moving industry–what if your web designer goes out of business or doesn’t otherwise meet your needs? I advise you not to put all of your eggs in one basket.

Can I choose a host by myself?
Certainly. Any web designer should be willing to work with you even if you have already obtained a host.  Note that some designers will refer you to and will say that they prefer a specific host.  There’s nothing wrong with that, just make sure that you go in with your eyes wide open and understand the specifics. Note that your designer may get some other perks by obtaining your host for you (via affiliate accounts or a discount for their own site). This is normal, but note that you shouldn’t be paying them any more than you would pay the host if you went to them by yourself. A designer should not should not pad the price but offer you straight costs, honest quotes and in the process remove some of the hassle for you.

Where can I get my own hosted account?

I’ve had good experience with Lunar Pages.  I use them myself and am an affiliate and recommend them to my clients (the link will take you to my affiliate account with them).  There are many more out there to choose from such as Network Solutions, GoDaddy, Web.Com and BlueHost. Those are just 5 out of thousands but they are 5 of the biggies that I’ve worked with in the present and past.  Just make sure that you don’t get a larger package than you need.  Your designer can help you with your specific websites requirements.

Something else to keep in mind is registering your domain name anonymously.  This is an extra small fee with your hosting company but will help protect your privacy.  When people do a “Whois” search (and some will) if you do not purchase an anonymous domain name, your personal information (name and address) are out there for all to see.

Domain Account only:

So let’s say this new business idea of yours manifested awhile back.  You were inspired to grab up the web address so that you owned it when you were ready to take the plunge.  A very common misconception is that you do not have to have your hosting account with the same company that you’ve purchased your domain name from.   Your web designer can help you point your web address to any host of your choosing by redirecting the Name Servers.  In many cases the name can be transferred for as low as $10.00 if you want to keep all of your bills in one spot.

Just make sure you’re informed.  If you have some basic knowledge of what you’re getting into, you’ll feel so much better stepping into the decision to have a website created to put you and your ideas on the World Wide Web (www).

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