For more than a decade, Jeffrey L. Wilson has penned gadget- and video game-related nerd-copy for a variety of publications, including 1UP, 2D-X, The Cask, Laptop, LifeStyler, Parenting, Sync, Wise Bread, and WWE. He now brings his knowledge and skillset to PCMag as Senior Analyst. When he isn't staring at a monitor (or two) and churning out web... See Full Bio
Choosing is simple: select hosting that will support the script, platform, or CMS you want to use. And if you aren't sure, go for Linux hosting. For example, WordPress will run on Linux and Windows, but hosts generally recommend that you run it on Linux. However, if you want to use a Windows-specific technology like ASP.NET, you'll need a Windows host.

A domain name is a unique web address on the Internet, like www.example.com. Much like buying real estate in the physical world, when you register a domain name it becomes your property in the online world. No two domain names can be the same which means that if the domain name you want is already registered, you are unfortunately out of luck. Domain names can also have different domain extensions, or TLDs, attached to the end of it. For example, you may own www.example.com, however www.example.net may still be available.

Once you decide you price range, you need to consider how long you'll need web hosting. If it's a short-term project—say, less than a month or two—you can typically receive a refund should you cancel your hosting within 60 days. Some companies offer 30-day money-back guarantees, others offer 90-day money-back guarantees. Once again, it's beneficial to do your homework.

The most basic is web page and small-scale file hosting, where files can be uploaded via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or a Web interface. The files are usually delivered to the Web "as is" or with minimal processing. Many Internet service providers (ISPs) offer this service free to subscribers. Individuals and organizations may also obtain Web page hosting from alternative service providers.


The server where you bought the domain probably offers hosting services but usually at a cost. If you want to do it for free, have your domain redirected to whatever free web service you decide to use for your website. Remember, free sites are limited in the number of pages and can have a lot of ads. On the other hand, hosting your own website as in Method 2 above, or having your site hosted where you bought and keep the domain, allows you to pretty much create as many pages as you want, without any advertising you don't put up for yourself.
The first step to starting your website is registering your domain name. Think of your domain name as a street address for your website. Without a domain name, you would have to tell customers to visit your website at a temporary url such as 123.123.123.123/~yourwebsite instead of yourwebsite.com. Get your own domain name to lend your site a professional look and establish your online brand!
Make sure your Internet service contract allows hosting. Many Internet service providers (ISPs) expressly forbid personal hosting unless you have a business plan, which often costs significantly more than a standard use plan. This shouldn't be an issue if your site only generates a few hits per month, but any kind of significant traffic will draw attention to your hosting.
Shared web hosting is the most affordable type of domain hosting available. Its affordability is due to the fact that you share a server with various companies who also want a low-cost web hosting plan. Each company that shares this server has its own specified amount of storage space that is defined by the hosting package Depending on the size of the server, you could possibly have thousands of websites hosted on the same platform, with each user receiving an allotment of the total available bandwidth, memory, and power.
^ March 16, 1992 memo from Mariam Leder, NSF Assistant General Counsel to Steven Wolff, Division Director, NSF DNCRI (included at page 128 of Management of NSFNET, a transcript of the March 12, 1992 hearing before the Subcommittee on Science of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred Second Congress, Second Session, Hon. Rick Boucher, subcommittee chairman, presiding)

You could think of the sites that share your server as your roommates; there's really not that much separating you from them. Sure, you can close the bedroom door, but they can still cause nightmares for you in the kitchen and the bathroom. In web hosting terms, all the sites share a single server's resources, so huge traffic spike on Site A may impact the neighboring sites' performances. It's even possible that another site could take down the shared server altogether, if it crashed hard enough.
What sets the company apart is their first-year hosting price of less than a buck a month. The company's least expensive plan is a startlingly-low 80 cents a month. This is the least expensive hosting program we've seen, although the price does go up after that first year. In fact, most of the company's plans increase after their promotional price expires. 
Sadly, there is a bit of a "gotcha" to the free automatic backup service. If you're paying $3.95 a month (for the first year of hosting, then $9.95 a month), you don't get restores for free. Each restore, no matter how small or large, will cost you $19.95. I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, the company has to pay salaries to tech support reps who can handle panicking customers. On the other hand, it seems kind of mean-spirited to hit someone when they're down with an added fee. That said, getting your data back – at any price – is priceless.
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