In our previous blog, we discussed domain names and how they point visitors to your web site. Well, the location where the domain is pointed is the web host, where the actual files reside that make your web site what it is.

A web hosting company maintains a group of servers where your HTML, images, video, audio and data base files are kept. Keeping web servers from having hardware or software problems, or being attacked by viruses, is a full time job, which is why you should sign up with a hosting company and not try to host the site on your home server using your DSL, cable or fiber broadband line. Another good reason is that if you get a surge in web traffic (which is supposed to be a good thing), your web site will load very slowly and probably crash!

Most small businesses get between 10 – 500 hits per day. The only time it makes sense to host your site internally is when you grow to the point where you’re getting several thousand hits per day (hits are individual visitors to your site, either by people or by search engines) or if you have very confidential data that requires a high level of security. When you’ve grown to that point, you will want to have an IT staff person or vendor to manage it for you.

Nowadays, most web hosting companies charge between $10 – $50 per month for what’s called shared hosting (because you’re sharing a web server with many other web sites who are also getting limited traffic. When you start getting more traffic, you will have to move to dedicated hosting (where you have you own server maintained by the hosting company and used exclusively by your site). This usually runs between $100 – $500 per month depending on the features provided.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS ALWAYS keep your access link, userid and password that the web hosting company provides to you when you sign up! If you change web developers, or hosting companies, you want to be able to have complete access to your files. Don’t depend on the web developer to do it for you. If they’re cooperative and organized, they may track it for you (like I do), but if they’re not, you need a backup.