Before you begin your search for a web host you should first determine whether you need shared web hosting or dedicated web hosting.
A shared web hosting account is an account on a web server that hosts other shared accounts. The number of accounts on one shared server can vary widely; some servers host a few hundred, while others have thousands of sites hosted on one server. Hosting your website on a shared server is a workable solution for many small businesses, as shared hosting accounts are priced much lower than dedicated servers. Shared web hosting accounts have limited access to the core administrative functions of the server. Most web hosting companies offer comprehensive technical support for users of shared hosting plans. Complete technical support is usually included in the price of your account plan.
A dedicated server is usually dedicated to one, or just a few websites, usually for the sole use by one company. The cost of a dedicated server is higher than that of a shared hosting account. With a dedicated server, you have access to the core administrative functions of the server. With most dedicated server plans offered by hosting companies, you're pretty much on your own where technical support is concerned. If you don't have an IT staff or a server administrator to provide support, you may want to find a person to help you manage your dedicated server. Many hosting companies that offer dedicated server plans also offer "per issue" support, meaning that you'll pay a certain amount, usually an hourly fee, for technical support issues. Some dedicated server plans have optional "support tickets" that you can purchase in advance.
Another option is what's called a "managed dedicated" hosting plan. With a managed dedicated plan, you get a dedicated server and the hosting company also provides comprehensive support like you usually find in a shared hosting plan. This is a good alternative for companies that don't have an IT staff or a server administrator and don't want to get involved at all in the technical aspects of running a server. The price for a managed dedicated server is usually higher than for an unmanaged dedicated server plan as you're getting technical support included.
Whatever type of web hosting plan you choose, make sure that the plan you've chosen fits your needs.
Russ Mate is President of MateMedia, Inc.
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