Congratulations on building a website! Now comes the tricky part: getting your creation onto the Internet so that others can view and access it. You have a number of website hosting options, ranging from free to one hundred or more dollars a year.
Let's begin with free hosting services. The most popular of these include Yahoo! Geocities, Angelfire and Tripod. Services such as these let you upload your website for free and usually give you enough disk space (measured in megabytes) to hold a reasonably sized, personal website. Many even have web-based screens that let you upload files without using a third-party program.
Free, you say? There must be a catch. You're right, there is: most free hosting services place advertisements and popups on your website. Sometimes you can disable these, sometimes you can't.
Shop around for a service that best suits your needs, not one that's simply free. Also, know that when you use most free hosting services you can't have a custom domain name. The web address for your site will be something like www.geocities.com/~myname instead of something more to the point, such as www.myname.com.
If you're interested in a custom domain name, more disk space, and other perks, consider traditional web hosting services. Thousands of such services exist, and you can see a few of the best on our Web Hosting Review site. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the features, packages and jargon used in web hosting, so try to evaluate your needs with the following criteria:
- Disk Space: How much space do you need to host your site? A personal website might only need a few megabytes, but a commercial site selling hundreds of products might need significantly more.
- Traffic: Web hosting services usually limit the amount of traffic your site can have in a month. Web traffic is measured in megabytes or gigabytes, not in actual numbers of visitors on your site. A personal website that is only frequented by a handful of friends and family members probably doesn't need much traffic consideration at all, but a large commercial site needs plenty.
- eMail Addresses: Another important factor is whether the web hosting service includes email addresses in the hosting package, and if so, how many. It's always fun (and impressive) to send email from a customized domain name, such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can always find more information about web hosting services at our Web Hosting Review site. That site contains excellent information about web hosting that can be used whether you're shopping for a free or paid web hosting service.