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There are basically three primary options when selecting your web hosting platform. Shared Hosting, consisting of Unix and Windows based, and the third is Dedicated Servers. Below are brief explanations of each and how one makes their selection.
Shared web hosting is the most common level of hosting today. Shared hosting means that you share a web server with other web sites. This in no way means that you share the same files or domain or anything like that, but that other web sites are hosted on the same server. The number of sites hosted per server typically ranges from a few dozen to a few hundred or more depending on hardware used.
These days most shared hosting plans come with lots of bells and whistles such as hit counters and shopping carts. It's important to find a host that provides the features you need before you just compare prices. Shared hosting fees can range anywhere from a few dollars per month, to in the hundreds, although that high is rare. Look to spend from $10 - $30 per month for hosting a pretty basic web site that does not get tons of traffic. If you are doing eCommerce or hosting a complex dynamic web site expect to pay a little more.
Unix or Windows NT / 2000 shared hosting?
It is a very common misconception that if a person uses Windows on their PC, as most of us do, that they must need Windows based web hosting. Oh if Bill only had it that sweet. What OS you have on your PC has nothing to do with what OS your web host plans needs to be running.
The server type needed is easiest determined by the types of programming languages your site uses. If your site uses just HTML pages, then most likely Unix hosting is your best bet as it tends to be slightly cheaper than Windows hosting. If your site uses perl, PHP or Python, then Unix is also your best bet.
In most cases Windows NT or Windows 2000 hosting is used when your site uses a programming language called Active Server Pages and / or is connecting to a database such as Microsoft Access or SQL server.
Dedicated servers are for those that want or need total control of their server. Dedicated servers cost considerably more than shared hosting and are for the experienced developers. Believe it or not, dedicated servers rarely include as many bells and whistles as shared hosting. In most cases, those that need dedicated servers typically know that they need it, so if you are questioning, then most likely shared hosting is your best choice. Dedicated servers typically range from $200 to $1,000 per month depending on hardware used.
Hostchart is a leading web hosting directory website that has been in business for 6 years. That provides numerous web hosting articles and tutorials as well as news, interviews, and reviews. You can use its extensive set of tools to research and evaluate your current or future web hosts.