How to Buy Space on a Server
By Craig Witt
Back in 1995, when the web was young, setting up space on a web server was a difficult task. It was expensive, imposing to non-technical users, offered relatively limited capabilities, and the choice of hosting providers was slim. Almost the complete opposite is true today. With tens of thousands of providers to choose from, server space is highly affordable and simple to set up, even as more numerous and powerful features have come to market.
How to Buy Space on a Web Server
Learn what you should expect to pay. Different websites have different needs. High-volume sites such as Facebook require tens of millions of dollars each year to function, and a successful e-commerce site might pay $5,000 annually. In contrast, the server needs of a typical website are so relatively small that $100 or less per year is reasonable and common. To discover more about reasonable server costs for your website in particular, call or email business owners operating in an industry or market similar to yours and ask how much they pay.
Determine necessary features. Even the most basic web hosting packages offer a large collection of features, but not all may provide the features specifically required by your website. Do you need a Linux or Windows operating system? What about core functions, such as the ability to host domains and sub-domains, email and FTP accounts, and relational databases? In terms of programming needs, do you require CGI, PHP, Perl, Ruby on Rails, Python or JSP? How about the ability to simply create guestbooks, forums, chatrooms, password-protected directories or email forms? If you expect to sell products online, shopping cart software and secure server technology must also be considered. Create a spreadsheet and list all of the features that your web server must provide.
Read customer reviews. Setting up space on a web server is quick and simple, but changing to another is time-consuming and often difficult. Avoid this possibility by reading reviews provided by current and former customers on sites such as webhostingreviews.com. These sites provide real-world insight into a hosting provider's up-time and reliability, server and connection speed, technical support and knowledge, customer service, billing practices, and their overall ability to deliver value.
Buy server space. Purchasing your web server space is the easiest part of the process. Visit your selected provider's website, find the plan you wish to buy and begin your order. After providing the name of your website, you will be asked to provide your contact information and payment details. In most cases you can also select your payment term: monthly, yearly, or multi-yearly (Many hosting providers offer discounts for services paid in advance). After submitting payment, you will receive a confirmation email from your provider. Your server space will generally be available for use within an hour after purchase.
Craig Witt has written professionally since 2005 in the public and private sectors as a journalist, marketing copywriter and public relations professional. He most often writes consumer software and hardware how-to articles for eHow. Witt has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Washington.