The business of providing the storage, connectivity, and services necessary to serve files for a website.
A company that provides web hosting services is called a web host, and their detailed offers of storage, connectivity, and services are called web hosting plans.
There are literally thousands of web hosting services, ranging from individuals to worldwide corporations, and many web hosts offer multiple web hosting plans.
Below are basic checklists with some factors to consider when searching for a web host and a web hosting plan. Your requirements may vary.
Checklist For Web Hosts:
Company – dependability, stability, profitability.
People – honesty, integrity, professionalism.
Location – local, regional, national, worldwide.
Reliability – uptime measured as a percentage.
Redundancy – multiple connections to the Net.
Availability – can handle peak traffic volumes.
Scalability – prepared to accommodate growth.
Hardware – fast servers with quality components.
Monitoring – automatic checking of the network.
Backups – good frequency and easy recovery.
Technical Support – experienced and helpful.
Support Hours – real 24/7 vs. promised 24/7.
Response Time – average in minutes or hours.
Support Methods – free/toll phone, email, IM.
Policies – accepts or rejects offensive sites.
Fine Print – does it contradict the big print?
Checklist For Web Hosting Plans:
Operating System – Unix, Linux, Windows, etc.
Disk Space – “storage” – often measured in MB.
Additional Space – cost for exceeding the limit.
Data Transfer – “traffic” – often measured in GB.
Additional Transfer – cost for exceeding the limit.
Email – POP3, autoresponders, forwarding.
Databases – storage space and database type.
Scripting Languages – PHP, ASP, JSP, etc.
IP Address – unique number just for your website.
Log Files – the “raw” line-by-line detail of activity.
Statistics – summaries, sometimes with graphics.
Secure Server (SSL) – needed for e-commerce.
Shopping Cart – some hosts offer a default cart.
Control Panel – web-based account management.
Setup Time – automatic, hours, days, or unknown.
Payment Terms – monthly, quarterly, yearly, other.
Price – satisfy your needs, then worry about price.
see also: Web Hosting Tools
Web Hosting: Survival of the Fittest
CNET News.com (June 21, 2002)
When to Outsource Your Web Hosting
CNET News.com (September 8, 2001)
Web Hosting – Why Pay?
SitePoint (May 18, 2001)
A Hosting Solution for Small Business
ClickZ (April 21, 2000)
Moving Day: Switching Web Hosts
SitePoint (December 22, 1999)
How to Choose a Web Hosting Service for your Business
Wilson Internet (January 6, 1997)