What do you need?
Servers located in your country or offshore, Linux or Windows operating systems, disk space quota, bandwidth quota, databases, email accounts, web statistics, and easy access.
Location of Servers
Decide where you would like the majority of your visitors to be located and host your website in that country. Tests have shown very little difference in the speed between capital cities in the same country, something like 25 milliseconds. However between countries like USA and Australia the same data at the same time of day took 257 milliseconds. That could make quite a difference in the time taken for a website to load photos on to a screen.
Decide also whether or not you need to phone your host with queries 24 hours a day 7 days a week. That is always available at a cost and suits insomniacs who want answers at say 3:00 am. Most hosts offer a phone service during business hours and a ticket system throughout the night.
Windows hosting is necessary only if you are using a Microsoft product such as MS Access database, MS SQL Server database, MS Expression Web, ASP, ASP.NET, or any Microsoft product that specifies Windows hosting.
All other websites will run on Linux hosting. Windows hosting is generally more expensive than Linux.
Usually calculated in megabytes, this should be large enough to cover all your website files, email accounts, access logs, databases if any, with some to spare in case people send you large emails. Databases are needed for Content Management Systems like WordPress and for ecommerce systems.
This is the volume of traffic in megabytes of your website each month. Includes downloads by visitors, uploads by you and emails. Every time you get a visitor, all the components of the web page being viewed will be downloaded to that visitor’s computer. This includes words, pictures, style sheets, etc.
Bandwidth is a good reason to optimize all the images. A photo image is needed to have a high resolution for printing a hard copy, but can be compressed for display on a web page without any visible change in quality. Check images in your graphics program to see how they look at different percentage compressions. As a bonus, the smaller the file size the faster it loads to the screen.
Excess Disk Space
What if you receive a notice that you are about to exceed your disk space quota, the quota that suited your website when you first loaded it? There could be a number of causes:
(1) Your incoming emails are being stored on the server. You may have chosen this strategy because you are a commercial traveler and read emails on a smart-phone or tablet or notebook while on the road and just download emails to your desktop when you return to your office.
If you haven’t chosen that strategy but emails are still accumulating on the server, it could be that you forgot to un-tick the “leave mail on server” option in an email program, e.g. Outlook.
If you use webmail, e.g. Squirrel mail, and have deleted emails, maybe you forgot to purge the deleted ones.
(2) You may have uploaded photos without optimizing them for the web. If you upload photos to WordPress they will be accepted regardless of size, even poster size, but will be optimized by WordPress. The original photos that you uploaded will remain on the server and you can delete those.
(3) Your website may have been running for a few years and the logs have accumulated. You don’t need old logs. Delete them.
If you exceed your quota of disk space, emails sent to you may bounce because of lack of disk space to hold them.
What if you receive a notice that you are about to exceed your bandwidth quota, the quota that suited your website when you first loaded it? There could be a number of causes:
(1) Your website is now more popular and is receiving more visitors.
(2) Your photos may need to be optimized more.
Unfortunately, when you exceed your bandwidth quota, the server may automatically suspend your website. So don’t ignore notices from your hosting service.
However, the notice may state that you have exceeded 80% of your bandwidth quota, but you are in fact 90% through the month. In that case you should be able to finish the month before you exceed the quota.
Calculate the size of your website and what you need in a hosting plan. Don’t pay for more resources than you need. E.g. there are plans that offer a gigabyte of space and 1000 email accounts.
If you are a family business with 20,000 products, you may need only 200 megabytes of space and 10 email accounts. If you have only a few web pages of text and pictures and no database, you may need only 10 megabytes of space.
You can always upgrade your hosting plan when needed.