The time has come to give your business a presence on the Web. Once you've created (or had someone create) a Web site and content, the question of where to put it still remains. You can choose from a wide range of Web site hosting options, and the good news is that the more expensive ones may not always be the best choice. It all comes down to your budget and the type of presence you want on the World Wide Web.
Using Your ISP for Web Space
When you subscribe to Internet connection services through an Internet Service Provider (ISP) you will usually receive a certain amount of space to host Web pages. You don't pay extra for the hosting as long as you don't go over the space and traffic limitations set by your ISP. Unlike using free sites to host a Web page there will be no third-party advertisements running on your Web pages, unless of course, you choose to run advertisements on the pages yourself.
The amount of space you get from your ISP varies from one service provider to another. Generally, you can expect to have up anywhere from 2MB up to 5MB for your Web pages. As value-added services, your ISP may also provide you with code that you can freely use on your Web page such as code to implement a hit counter or guestbook. It is important to check with your ISP beforehand to find out what services they provid with your Internet account.
Finding Free Web Space Online
You can find free Web space on the Internet with a simple Web search. There are a plethora of services available to individuals and businesses looking for a place to park a Web site and not have to pay for the service. Depending on which one you choose, these online offers typically provide anywhere from 5MB to 100MB of space for hosting your Web site.
Some free site companies offer value-added services, such as tracking logs, counters, guestbooks, virtual domain names, copy-and-paste scripts and more. Generally these added services are ideal for people who are unfamiliar with Web site building and feature implementation.
While a free service may sound even better than using your ISP for hosting a small Web site, you should always do your research first. Visitors to your Web page might end up being spammed with oodles of pop-up and banner advertisements, and you will have no control over the advertising content that may be a direct conflict with your Web page, especially if it is a site designed for children and younger readers.
These companies offer Web space to people for free because they rely on advertising dollars brought in by you showing their ads on your Web page. Be sure to read the user agreement before signing up for a free Web hosting account so that you know what to expect in terms of advertising.
Cheap Web Space Online
If you're not wild about running advertisements on your Web site, you can find services that are similar to free hosting but let you pay a small fee to keep the Web page advertisement-free. In fact, many of the sites offering free hosting also offer upgraded accounts where you can pay anywhere from $5 to $20 a month to have the advertisements stripped from your site. By upgrading to a paid account you'll most likely have access to additional Web site building features and services not offered with the free accounts.
There's a lot of competition for your Web site hosting dollars, and you can find some pretty good deals online. F2G is just one example of a Web site hosting provider that offers excellent options and lots of space for $6.95 a month — if paid annually. With this type of premium-but-cheap Web site hosting, you can also pay a little extra to register a domain name and have the site available to readers under that name.
What Is A Domain Name
A domain name is a name that identifies one or more IP addresses. For example, the domain name microsoft.com represents about a dozen IP addresses. Domain names are used in URLs to identify particular Web pages. For example, in the URL http://www.ecommerce-guide.com/index.php, the domain name is ecommerce-guide.com.
The only way to register and start using a domain name is to use the services of a domain name registrar. The domain name industry is regulated and overseen by ICANN, the organization that's responsible for certifying companies as domain name registrars.
At one time there was only one domain name registrar — Network Solutions Inc. — but today there are dozens of accredited registrars. Only a domain name registrar is permitted to access and modify the master database of domain names maintained by InterNIC. If you come across a registrar that's not on the list, the organization is most likely acting as a reseller for one of the accredited registrars as only an accredited registrar. The registrar you choose determines the cost for registering a domain name, but in general expect to pay a yearly fee.
Do You Really Need a Domain Name?
By registering and using a domain name, your costs associated with having a Web site will increase. Many individuals will use domain names to help create an identity on the Web, but for most businesses, the use of a domain name is for branding purposes.
Usually, you try to find a domain name that's related to your company name, your industry or a mixture of both if finding an available domain name becomes too difficult. Companies often use their Web site as a way to communicate and provide information to clients. They also market their Web site as a part of their business by including the Web site address on business cards and advertisements.
Once you select an available domain name, you must register it. This is a task you can do, or many ISPs offer a complete hosting package that includes the registering of the domain name for you, however you need to ensure the ISP will register the domain name in your own name. In many instances you pay a one-time set-up fee for the services associated with the name being registered and the technical work, then pay your service provider a monthly or yearly fee for the Web site hosting services.
It's important to remember that once you have registered a domain name, you can change hosts whenever you want — so long as you continue to pay for the domain name registration. The new host will take care of the technical details to make sure your Web address continues to work when you switch hosts.
Regardless of which Web hosting option you choose, there are many companies out there ready to help you create a Web presence. The beauty of doing business on the Internet is that you can look for Web site hosts outside of your geographical region to help you get a plan that is right for you — at a price you're willing to pay.
This article originally appeared on webopedia.com. Vangie Beal is Managing Editor of Webopedia.com
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