Are you paying too much for your web hosting? Are you getting the most out of your website? Can you easily change your website? Do you even know the password to access your site? These are all important concerns when thinking about where you are currently hosting your site. I have found in talking with my clients they there are three major kinds of hosting scenarios that most small companies fall under.
The first are the huge mega serving companies. These companies can range from huge companies like Geocities, Wildwest Domains, or Network Solutions whose domain hosting can be measured in the millions, to smaller regional hosting companies that range in the thousands. The biggest advantage to these companies is the price. Usually a decent website package can be had for less than $10.00 per month. These companies also have excellent reliability. Their servers involve a lot of redundancies that make down time almost non-existent. Also, the odds of them going belly up are considerably low. The software provided for running your website is also considerably fancier. The disadvantage to using these companies comes in the form of service. Technical support can be hard to come by and if you need help with the functionality of your site, forget it. This is a good option if you are already knowledgeable about setting up websites or have a good resource to talk you through it.
The second option is a small company that hosts less than 500 sites. These are companies that have purchased their own small servers in an effort to achieve an income source in addition to their core services. Usually the technical support is excellent in these situations. With less clients, the server technician is usually available to speak directly with the client. Creating your website is easier and keeping it up to date simpler. In many cases, problems can be fixed almost immediately. However, most of these companies lack the sophisticated software to give each of there client individual access to their site on the server. They often require that all modifications to the website go through the server technician. You might even have to pay an hourly rate for the modifications to take place. Since there are no redundancies, the sever could be down for days at a time. The price tag with these type of companies is often higher as well. The price may range from $20.00 to $50.00 dollars per month. This is much too high to pay unless the company also provides monthly maintenance services.
A third possibility that I have seen almost never ends well. I have run across more than one organization that hosts with an individual who may own his or her own server. Sometimes this hosting is done as a favor and can be free. However, the person can move or generally become unavailable (they often have a day job). Modifications to the site can be excruciating and server reliability is non-existent. Only use this type of server if you trust the individual doing the hosting and do not mind if the site goes down for a few days every once in a while.
Kirk Peters is a Pittsburgh based multimedia programmer. He has had more than ten years experience developing multimedia applications for hundreds of local companies. He can be reached at 412-716-6585 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.