If you're learning how to build a web site for a small business, you've probably heard people talking about web hosting providers, or ISPs (Internet Service Providers) as they're called. Those are the guys who can host your web site for you -- for a small fee.
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Mind you, you don't have to use an ISP to host a website. If you want, you can decide to host your own server and maintain your Internet site in-house.
But, generally speaking, hosting your web site yourself isn't the right way to go. It's a hassle and requires a level of technical knowledge that isn't possessed by most small business owners.
How much does web hosting cost? Shared hosting costs approximately $20 to $30 a month. Shared hosting means your site is on a computer, but many other sites are hosted on the same server.
If you shop around, you can buy web hosting for less money per month, but if you want a reliable web hosting service, plan on spending $20 to $30 a month.
Prices vary, depending on whether you go for Linux hosting or Windows hosting and depending on what add-ons you need. For example, hosting a web site with a database like SQL Server usually costs more than hosting costs for a site that doesn't need database access.
Make sure the ISP provider has a large enough system to handle the volume of "hits" coming in for both your Web site and for those stored on its server by other clients.
If the system can't handle a large number of hits at once, people trying to get to your site will obtain the Internet equivalent of a busy-signal-a frustrating message saying that you can't be reached at the moment-or extremely slow access to your site.
It's also important to understand whether there are any hidden costs. Some sites only offer you a limited amount of bandwidth and you pay extra if you exceed that amount. If your site becomes very popular, you may find that your hosting bills get out of control in a hurry.
You can usually get the best deal on web hosting if you lock in for a long period of time. In other words, if you pay for web hosting for one year, it costs less than if you pay every month for twelve months.
But, paying monthly gives you more flexibility. You can leave if your ISP service levels are poor and you can leave if you find a better deal on web hosting somewhere else. Remember, it's easy to change web hosts.
It's that easy to host a web site. In fact, web hosting is the easiest part of launching a web site for a small business. The hard part is building the web site, maintaining it, and making it useful for your customers and prospective customers.