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What To Look For In A Small Business Website Host
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What to Look for In A Small Business Website Host

There are dozens of website hosts providing small business site hosting plans, and each has dozens of different features they advertise. With so many choices, how do you choose the one that's right for you?

Fortunately for you, most small businesses only need to worry about a few of those features. In all but the most extreme case, these few features are the only ones that are very important - until your website gets extremely complex.

Possibly the most important features are disk space and bandwidth. Disk space is the amount of data you can store; although it isn't a big deal with a site that just has static pages, if you're going to have videos or music you'll definitely want to make sure you get a lot of disk space. Bandwidth is the amount of data people can download altogether without you paying a crazy amount extra. For example, if three people download a 15 MB promotional video, you'll have used 45 MB of bandwidth. Fortunately, a lot of plans give you unlimited disk space and bandwidth.

Another important feature you'll want to look at is the number of domains you can use with one plan. If there's the possibility that you'll want more than one website, there isn't much point in paying extra since there are hosts that support unlimited domains and unlimited free subdomains.

All web hosting plans support HTML, JavaScript, CSS, Flash, and all the main development languages. But there are some languages that require server support. An example is PHP, used by WordPress. Since PHP support on a Windows server can be pretty sketchy, I recommend you use a Linux server for PHP web applications. On the other hand, if you're using an application that uses ASP/ASP .NET, you'll need a Windows server.

Server side languages, as they're called, are a complicated subject. But in most cases, a Linux server (which most plans use, especially cheaper ones) will work fine for a small business.

One option you might want to look at is the number of email addresses you'll get for free with the plan. A lot of plans give you some, and if you think you might be needing a lot you should check which plans have enough, because adding some will probably cost you a few extra dollars a month.

Some hosts can install web applications automatically. Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, and a bunch of other software can be installed painlessly for you - while doing it manually would take extra work. If you plan to use a web application, you should see if it can be installed, to save yourself a lot of hassle.

If you plan to do some advertising, a lot of plans include some Google AdWords and/or Bing & Yahoo! advertising credits for free. This will give you a nice start with advertising at no extra cost.

Finally, if something goes wrong, you'll need to talk to someone to get help. A lot of hosts have good 24/7 technical support, so that shouldn't be an issue.

Obviously, there are other things you could look for in a website host, but these things are a good start. For a small business you'll probably never need many advanced features. Research the features you need, and check the hosts you're thinking about to make sure they'll work well for you. A lot of hosts have a money-back guarantee, so you're usually pretty safe if you change your mind shortly after registering.

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