Hosting Considerations

Why is Your Website Host so Important?
Your website does not live on your computer, it lives on a computer designed especially for hosting websites. Your site will be on more than one machine at any give time. You will develop your site on a local machine (the computer in your home, office or at school) and this referred to as the “local site.” In order you view your site on the internet, the files on you local machine must be transferred to a webserver that publishes the files. The computer that hosts and publishes your site to the internet is a remote server in a remote location and is called the “remote site.” Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are companies that provide website hosting. Your job is to provide your audience with an uninterrupted viewing experience. Without a reliable ISP, it will be difficult to accomplish this task. It is important to find out some things up-front, so that there are no surprises later.

Do Your Homework
Part of website design is figuring out which services and features you wish to offer through your, or your customer's, site. You will need to know things like the following:

What to Ask Your ISP
Hosts generally post most of this information on their site, along with the prices. However, it is always better to get the answers up-front if there is any doubt. Any host should be happy to provide this information.

The owner of a domain is the Registrant. If you are not the Registrant, it is not your domain. If it is not your domain, you cannot change hosting providers without the consent of the Registrant.

Any Domain you purchase should be owned by you, or your customer (even if you purchase it for them), not by the hosting provider. Many hosting providers offer incredibly low domain registration charges, but do not tell you that they own the domain. If you read the fine print with some of these hosts, you can move to another provider, but you have to pay a relocation fee. Often this fee more than offsets you initial savings.
As of this writing, if you register a domain with GoDaddy or Network Solutions and do not renew your registration when it expires, they have the first option to take the domain and they will take it. When this happens it will cost you $100 or more to get it back.

If you register a domain through a web hosting service, you must ask, "Who is the Registrant?"

In the web hosting world, you really get what you pay for.  Great hardware and service do not come cheap, however, the prices have gone down significantly in the past couple of years. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The going rate for a good ISP is around $10 a month. This should include your domain name registration and usually email accounts as well.

These are some basic questions you need to ask a hosting provider:

Many hosts offer features listed below. Sometimes these features are available in packages, or tiers of service, and sometimes they are a la carte. Be sure to ask if there is an associated cost with each feature. Expect some features to have a set-up cost in addition to monthly costs.

Though this is the most esoteric of the sections of this document, it may be helpful to those in administrative roles, when choosing a host.