Thursday, September 25, 2008

Free Web Hosting vs. Paid Web Hosting

Free web hosting or paid web hosting? Which hosting option is better and which will provide you the services and support you need? Over the past few weeks I have immersed myself in researching the pros and cons of free and paid hosting services because I have a new business we are trying to get online. It has been very educational to see the differences between the two types of hosting. And to answer the questions above, the best web hosting service may be different for all users due to unique factors, circumstances and needs of each user.

Through my research, and keep in mind that I am not the most technically savvy individual, I have found a few key differences between free web hosting and paid web hosting. For starters, the first difference is price. Even though most paid hosting services are very affordable, free web hosting is exactly that - it is free. So you ask, how can it be free? The web hosting provider has to make money somehow. Well, you are right. Most free web hosting services place advertisements across the top of your website to help generate money for their hosting business. Many business owners aren't comfortable having ads on their website, and others don't mind. It is a personal preference that each user can decide on their own. Additionally, most reputable free web hosting providers offer an opt out option on the advertising for a very minimal fee (in some cases, as little as $20 per year).

In addition to price, storage space on the server is a major difference. Most paid web hosting providers offer large amounts of disk storage space (generally 500 gigs and up), while free web hosting providers only allow you a small amount of storage space, which can be as little as 50 megabytes. If you intend to design and build a large website with a lot of features, you most likely will need to lean in the direction of paid web hosting since that type of website will take a lot of storage space on a server.

Another critical difference between free and paid hosting is the type and availability of customer support. Free web hosts generally offer email or online support only, where reputable paid hosts offer 24/7 phone support in addition to online and email support. Customer support is a nice feature for those of us that don't understand all of the terminology surrounding hosting and the Internet. I have found that most of the big paid web hosting providers do a pretty good job of helping their customers with questions and support issues.

Other things to look for when deciding between free and paid hosting is reliability, redundancy, and what additional features and tools are offered by the web host. These items are all critical to maintaining a successful online presence for businesses. However, for an individual who wants to create a web site for fun, these items may not be as much of a concern. You may want to do a search for web hosting reviews and see what independent reviewers and users are saying about all of the top web hosting providers.

In summary, the choice between free web hosting and paid web hosting is not a clear cut choice. Your best web hosting provider may be completely different than your neighbors since every one's wants and needs are different. Just keep in mind your needs, budget, and support requirements and you should be able to decide whether you will need to pay for web hosting or if you can use a free web hosting provider.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Credit Cards!

One bit of advice I always give to my clients is to use a credit card for business purchases, especially a credit card that offers rewards. One reason for this recommendation is obvious. However, there are more reasons than you might think.

First, using a credit card to pay for business purchases is a good idea because it buys you as much as 20-25 days of float before actually paying for the purchase. Most credit card companies offer a grace period for you to pay for your charges without paying any finance charges. Second, having a credit card gives you access to financing, as little as it may be, to help grow your business. Many small businesses only need a small amount of capital to get their business up and running. Third, using a credit card wisely can help you build a solid credit score. It is critical that credit card balances are paid in full each month, otherwise your credit card debt will grow quickly and soon will become overwhelming.

Lastly, a credit card is one that can offer some type of reward or benefit for using the card. Many of the best credit cards offer travel rewards, points for use at retailers, cash back awards, and much more. Some issuers offer low APR credit cards. Regardless of the reward type you choose, why not leverage your business purchases and get something back in return!