How To Host Your Domain Name
You've done all your brainstorming and come up with an absolutely brilliant domain name that both brands your business and let's people know what you sell or represent. The next step is finding someplace to host your domain name. Having your own website or web based business is a two step process.
1. Register domain
2. Host domain
After you register the domain name it's normally "parked" with the registrar. Parking means that the domain registrar will put up a temporary page for you saying that the domain has been registered but nothing has been done with it yet. 99.9% of all domain registrars offer this facility free of charge. This is fine as a temporary measure but the sooner you get your hosting sorted out the better; especially seeing as how most registrars make money from advertising on parked domains. Yup. Really.
Choosing a reliable hosting company isn't always easy. The 'net is covered with ads for HostX and HostY and they're all better than everyone else blah, blah, blah, blah. The only thing all hosting companies have in common is their claim to being the best webhost in the Universe bar none. Let's face facts here - they're trying to sell you their product so of course they're going to sing their own praises as loudly as possible.
Do plenty of window shopping before choosing a web host. Prices and quality of service vary wildly from one to the next. I've had friends of mine pay $70 per month for web hosting that should only have cost them about $10 - the exact same features and better quality of service for for $60 per month less!
A critical step in choosing your webhost is deciding what you actually need from them in the first place. What are your expectations and requirements?
Here's some quick questions to ask yourself before taking our your credit card:
Personal or Business hosting?
Do you intend for your website to be a basic personal site or a fully fledged ecommerce site? Be honest when answering this question. Cutting corners now could cost you a lot of money later on (additional bandwidth charges for example).
Shared or Dedicated hosting?
Shared hosting is where you share a webhosting server with dozens or perhaps hundreds of other customers. Dedicated hosting is where you have your own server in the web hosts data management centre. Shared hosting is absolutely fine for 90% of websites.
Why might you need dedicated hosting? If you intend running a massively huge website that has millions of visitors daily and absolutely must operate at peak efficiency at all times and allow you full control of it (including rebooting the server itself) then dedicated hosting is for you.
If not then be satisfied with shared hosting. Hopefully the day will come when you need dedicated hosting as it means your website has become a huge success!
Windows or Linux hosting?
If you intend to use .asp, .net, Frontpage or any of the Microsoft web development tools to any extent then you're going to need Windows web hosting. Why? Because if you don't then your Microsoft developed website simply won't work. Ever.
If you're using Dreamweaver or a similar application for generating standard html files then Unix hosting is perfect for you. 90%+ of the web servers on the Internet are Unix (Apache) based. There's a 90%+ chance that your site will be on a Unix host also because of this :-)
So what else do you need to look for in a good hosting company?
99.9% Uptime guarantee
Variety of hosting packages
Cpanel/Plesk access (Cpanel is better)
Fantastico (part of Cpanel)
Online and email support - including a knowledgebase
Minimum 24 hour support response time
Money back guarantee
What helps me make up my mind more often than not about a new webhost that I might be thinking about signing up with is testimonials or referrals from friends. Satisfied customers are the best advertising that any company can have.