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Chapter 84. Choosing a Web Host > Considering Features

Considering Features

Web hosts offer a variety of features. It's hard to know what you need and what you don't. Here are some important factors to consider:

  • Server space. Exactly how much server space do you need? You can figure this out pretty easily. Find out the combined file size of your Web site by examining the properties of its local root folder. If your site is 5 MB, then you need at least 5 MB of server space. Generally, you don't need huge amounts of server space, unless your site includes lots of heavy multimedia files, such as MP3s.

  • Bandwidth limits. Your Web host measures bandwidth, or the amount of data its computers push to the visitors of your site over a period of time. Typically, you get a monthly limit, and, if you exceed your cap, your host charges you extra. A good data-transfer baseline for a typical personal or small-business Web site is 1 GB. Roughly speaking, one gigabyte of data transfer equals 20,000 page views—that's one person viewing one page of your site 20,000 times, or 5,000 people viewing one page of your site four times, or 20,000 people viewing one page of your site one time. It's hard to know exactly how much bandwidth you need, so start low. If you exceed your limit regularly, consider upgrading your plan. Keep in mind: If you offer a total of 1 GB of MP3s on your site, you can exceed 1 GB of bandwidth very quickly.


    Bandwidth is the amount of site data that your Web host transfers every month.

  • POP3 email accounts. You may or may not want extra email accounts for your site. But if you want them, go for a Web host that provides them. Generally, you want POP3 email instead of Web-based email. POP3 email works with client software such as Microsoft Outlook and Eudora, which let you jump on the Internet quickly, download your mail, and answer it offline. Web-based email requires you to be online to write and receive messages. Many Web hosts count the amount of email that you send and receive over their servers as part of your overall transfer limit, so be sure to take this factor into account.

  • Streaming audio/video and other media. If you want to host streaming audio or video files on your site, or even if you want to display Flash animations and other common media types, your Web host needs to be set up to do this. You don't need special service to host Web images such as JPEG, GIF, and PNG.

  • FrontPage extensions. Heaven forbid, but if your Web site uses the stupid special effects that come with Microsoft FrontPage, you should find a Web host that doesn't offer FrontPage extensions. This way, the dumb things won't work, and the quality of your site will improve dramatically.

  • CGI, server-side scripting, and database access. If your site uses server-side technology to connect to a database, you need a Web host who is set up to do this. You don't have to worry about this level of service if your site sticks to the client side: HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. All the projects in this book are client-side only.

  • Site reports. You want a host that gives you access to the data that the Web server collects about the visitors to your site. You want to see where they're from, what browsers they're using, what pages they visit most often, and which sections of the site they seem to be missing. You don't want this information for evil purposes. You want it to help you improve your site. Definitely check into what kind of site reporting tools the host offers.



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