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If you are planning to take your business on the Internet, you are probably impatient to see it up and running. However, it is better to take the time you need to make sure your chosen host provider is a good fit for you and your business. Here are a few important questions and answers that will help you decide on a web hosting when it's time to launch your website.

Choose Questions

What is Web Hosting? What is Web Hosting?
What is Virtual Hosting? What is Virtual Hosting?
What exactly is space and bandwidth/data transfer? What Exactly Is Space and Bandwidth/data Transfer?
What do I need to do to put Flash on my website? What do I need to do to put Flash on my website?
How do I track how many hits my website gets? How do I track how many hits my website gets?
What are PHP, ASP, perl, etc? What are PHP, ASP, perl, etc?
What is MySQL, MS SQL, etc? What is MySQL, MS SQL, etc?
Do I have to change my domain if I get a new host? Do I have to change my domain if I get a new host?
Will there be forced advertising on my site - things like banner ads or popup ads? Will there be forced advertising on my site - things like banner ads or popup ads?
How can I pay for web hosting? How can I pay for web hosting?
How can I pay for web hosting? What is PayPal?
What are subdomains? What are subdomains?
How do I upload my site online? How do I upload my site online?
What is uptime? What is uptime?
What is the difference between UNIX hosting and Windows hosting? What is the difference between UNIX hosting and Windows hosting?
I have a fast internet connection (DSL/cable) - can I just host my own site? I have a fast internet connection (DSL/cable) - can I just host my own site?
Why would I need a dedicated IP? Why would I need a dedicated IP?
Why don't I just go with the cheapest hosting? Why don't I just go with the cheapest hosting?
I am using too much bandwidth! Is there anyway for me to make it less? I am using too much bandwidth! Is there anyway for me to make it less?

Questions & Answers

What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is the act of renting space and bandwidth through a company so that you may publish your web site online.

You can either opt for free hosting that is usually supported with banners and pop ups, or may opt to get paid web hosting, which gives you complete control over your site contents.

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What is Virtual Hosting?
Also known as shared hosting, this form of web hosting should suffice for most everyone.

Virtual hosting simple refers to the fact that your site is on one server, and that this server hosts multiple sites. You are virtually shared - your site will not be the only one on this specific server.

Very few sites would actually need the power of a dedicated server, so this option provides to be a reliable and cheap solution.

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What Exactly Is Space and Bandwidth/data Transfer?
Diskspace is the size your website can be. Every single letter on your website has to be stored somewhere on your web host's server. Each letter is one byte, and a megabyte is roughly one million bytes. HTML pages are usually very small, but it is the extra images, scripts, and even databases that can take up large amounts of disk space.

Bandwidth/Transfer is the amount of data the server will allow your site to send in a month. Transfer is usually measured in gigabytes - billions of bytes. Once you go over your monthly limit, a host may either shut your site down for the remainder of the month or it can charge you 'overage.' This overcharge is usually about $2.00-$5.00 per extra gigabyte of transfer.

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What do I need to do to put Flash on my website?
Flash is a client side feature - it runs on the user's computer, not on your web host. As long as the user's browser has the correct plugin installed, it will run on their computer.

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How do I track how many hits my website gets?
There are a few things that need to be cleared in terms of terminology:

Hits - this simply refers to the number of 'elements' loaded on your site. If one page has five images in it, viewing that page once adds 6 hits (one page + five images).
Impressions - the number of times all the pages on your site are seen (also simply called pageviews). Impressions are sometimes referred to as 'hits' which can cause confusion.
Uniques - the number of people that visited your site.

So to clarify, if I visit your website, look at two pages, and each page has 5 images on it, then your stats increase by one unique, two page views, and 12 hits.

Tracking on your site can be either done server-side or remotely. With server-side statistics, log files are used to generate visitor information. This is usually much more accurate than remotely hosted solutions. In such cases, you usually have to add some javascript to your site. This javascript is then used to track visitor data.

If your host provides it (and many do), server-side statistics are a good solution. Otherwise, companies like Site Meter can be used to remotely track your visitors.

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What are PHP, ASP, perl, etc?
These are all programming languages which are referred to by their acronyms.

PHP - PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor
ASP - Active Server Pages
Perl - not an acronym

Each programming language has its own benefits and uses. It is best that you research on your own to find one that best fits your needs.

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What is MySQL, MS SQL, etc?
MySQL and MS SQL are database systems. Depending on what your host provides, you can use a database to organize your data.

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Do I have to change my domain if I get a new host?
No. Provided that the domain is registered in your name (as it should be), you can simply update your new servers (from where you manage your domain names) to that of your new host.

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Will there be forced advertising on my site - things like banner ads or popup ads?
Not at all. You are paying for web space that is only yours - no one may put ads on your site except you.

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How can I pay for web hosting?
This depends on which host you decide to go with. Most web hosts will accept credit cards, and some will accept PayPal and/or a Money Order / Check.

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What is PayPal?
Simply put, PayPal lets anyone with an email address send money to anyone else with an email address.

Each user signs up with PayPal and then enters their necessary banking and credit card information. Once registration is completed, your email address is all you need to send and receive money. PayPal is owned by eBay.

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What are subdomains?
Consider subdomains as an extension of your domain. For example, your site is www.example.com. A subdomain would be test.example.com, and another would be webhosting.example.com.

Subdomains are usually treated as separate sites from the main domain site.

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How do I upload my site online?
Uploading your site can be done in many ways, but the most popular is FTP.

When your hosting account was created, you should have been provided with an FTP account. Using software such as CuteFTP or WS_FTP, you can log into your host. Then, using the program like a normal windows program, you can drag and drop files onto your web host. These files become live online instantaneously. There are other ways to upload your site such as using SSH or uploading files through your browser

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What is uptime?
Uptime is literally what it means - it is the amount of time your site is online throughout the entire month.

The best uptime would be 100%, but because things can break, many hosts offer 99.9% uptime guarantees. This means that if your site is not accessible for more than 43 minutes in a single month, they will reimburse you, depending on their terms of service.

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What is the difference between UNIX hosting and Windows hosting?
Depending on which operating system to go with depends on your needs.

If you need to support Microsoft products such as ASP, MS Access, or VBScript, then Windows hosting would be better. Furthermore, if you are comfortable with IIS and do not have the time to understand how UNIX works, Windows hosting would again be a better choice.

There are some things to remember. First of all, just because you use Windows at home does not mean you should use Windows hosting. The two are completely different, and having a Windows system at home will not affect your ability to communicate with a UNIX server.

Secondly, Linux is much more common with web hosts due to its superior stability and because it is free. Since it is free, Linux hosting is usually cheaper than Windows. Just because it's free does not mean it's not as good - Linux is an excellent product too.

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I have a fast internet connection (DSL/cable) - can I just host my own site?
You could, but that's definitely not recommended.

First of all, most ISPs have clauses that do not let you use your internet connection for web hosting - doing so will result in termination of your account.

Second of all, think of the headaches it can provide: making sure your system is secure so that no one can hack into it, having your computer on 24/7, and other such problems.

Third of all, think of the performance. Most good web hosts use powerful servers with lots of RAM and high performance hard disks. Furthermore, they have multiple internet connections at speeds far higher than what residential DSL or cable service can provide.

Lastly there are all the issues of support. If something goes wrong, it will be your job to fix it - you will not have a professional to correct the problem.

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Why would I need a dedicated IP?
For most people, a dedicated IP is not required. But for people that want to provide anonymous FTP or a website using SSL, a dedicated IP can make that easier.

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Why don't I just go with the cheapest hosting?
A host has to make a profit to continue operating. Some hosts do not properly understand the market, and may be pricing themselves too cheap.

Look very closely to what is written in their terms of service and acceptable use policy documents. Some hosts try to limit the activity of the customer through these two. The quality of bandwidth and overall performance, some hosts scrimp on these to give you cheaper prices. Do a self test - visit the host's website multiple times in a day to see that it remains fast loading. In general, Windows Hosting is more expensive than Unix hosting. Test out the support, and take a look over the online documentation. If you are paying less than $10 a month (which is roughly 30 cents a day), do not expect to receive an answer right after email the host. Many hosts now offer flash tutorials online which can be an excellent way to learn how a feature works.

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I am using too much bandwidth! Is there anyway for me to make it less?
In most cases, yes.

You should first try to optimize the graphics on your website. Many GIFs look just as good with fewer colors, and many JPEGs look just as good with a higher compression level. NetMechanic offers an image optimizer program online.

You should also analyze the HTML of your site. Make sure you use relative paths, so that images are not downloaded more than one time. Remove any extra spacing and when linking to other pages, use relative paths and not absolute links.

While many hosts already have it, you could also see if your host has mod_gzip installed. This can save you a lot of bandwidth.

Best of all, optimizing your page like this makes the user experience better as your site will load faster for them.

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