Monday, May 3, 2010

Choosing a Hosting Service

This is part of Kate's Guide to Author Websites.

Your website must live on a web server. A hosting service is basically a company that owns web servers and rents space on them.

I recommend you decide whether you will create your website yourself or hire a pro before choosing a host.  If you hire a pro they can help you with the hosting decision.  If you create your website yourself, you will probably want a host that has tools to help you do this and create your site for free.

The details:
  • Expect to pay $0 to $20 per month.
  • There are different kinds of web servers running different kinds of programs and different kinds of sites. However, a typical author website should be able to run on practically any kind of web server.
  • Look for a hosting service that has a guaranteed availability (or uptime) of 99.9% or better. This assures you that your visitors will be able to get to your site any time.
  • Look for a hosting service with excellent customer service, preferably one with a prominently displayed phone number that is answered by a real person 24x7x365.
  • If they offer multiple packages, the lowest-priced one will usually more-than-suffice for a typical author website, and you can always upgrade or move later if necessary.
  • Most hosting services also offer domain name registration, but make sure you actually own any domain you reserve with them and get it take it with you if you change services.  This is almost always the case with larger providers.
  • Many hosting services offer free or inexpensive tools that allow you to develop your own website similar to the way you customize your blog.  In fact blog sites themselves are free hosting services, and these days you can make your blog look very much like a regular website by simply adding pages.
  • Many web developers and development firms also offer hosting. Although they may not guarantee 99.9% uptime or answer the phone at 4am, this disadvantage may be offset by the fact that they know you and your site and may be more comfortable for you to deal with. Others resell hosting services from larger providers, potentially giving you the best of both worlds.
  • Avoid using a small hosting company in a different part of the world. They are unlikely to have servers near your visitors (which impacts download times), and may be difficult to communicate with. 
  • If you are a minimally technical person and want to create your website yourself on the cheap, I recommend using  It is free and has an easy website creation tool, and unlike some such sites, weebly doesn't charge extra to use your own domain name (though they do charge a premium to register it for you).  There are two main downsides.  The first is that the site might look more simple and less unique than you'd like, and the second is that you have to pay extra if you don't want the "Create free website with Weebly" branding at the bottom of the page.  However, you can always move to something more sophisticated later if you feel compelled to.

No comments:

Post a Comment