Before you can put your Web site up on the Internet, you should line up a host for your future home on the Web -- a company that will be responsible for keeping your site connected to the Internet at all times. The web host will park it on a high-speed computer (a server) that's fast enough to serve up your page to hundreds of visitors at once.
You have a few options here, including free Web space or extra space your Internet provider may have granted you as part of your monthly Internet subscription. Web hosting firms like Go Daddy and Network Solutions specialize in renting Web server space for a monthly or annual fee.
You'll also need a domain name, which is the ".com" or ".org" part of the Web address. If you go with a Web hosting firm, its reps will usually help you pick out and pay for a domain name.
On the other hand, if you've opted for free Web space on a super-simple service, you generally won't have to deal with getting a domain name; in fact, you couldn't choose one if you wanted to. Your Web site's address will incorporate the company that's providing the space.
Your Internet service provider may supply you with 10 or 20 megabytes of free space for your own personal Web pages. Check the paperwork you got when you signed up, or your ISP's Web site, to see if that was part of the deal. Most big providers, like Earthlink, Comcast, and Verizon, provide enough space for a small site.
Here again, you won't be allowed to choose your own domain name.
If you need more space or want more flexibility for your Web site, there's no shortage of companies out there that will gladly rent you some room on their servers for less than $10 a month. Once you buy space from them, such companies supply the information you need to upload your Web site to their servers, like passwords and directions.
If you don't have a domain name for your site yet, you can even buy an all-in-one domain name/hosting package from a company like Register.com, Go Daddy, Dotster, Network Solutions, and Host Monster.
Each offers a selection of hosting plans for everything from personal sites to major e-commerce operations. Because you're buying a domain name to go with your site, you can also check its availability to see if it's in use. You can look up to see if anyone has nabbed it yet.
When shopping for Web space, consider these factors:
1) Data transfer limit. Also known as bandwidth, this is the amount of information your site is allowed to send each monthnamely, copies of your Web pages into the browsers of your site's eager readers/fans/customers. Ask the hosting company what happens if your site gets really popular and you exceed your bandwidth limit; do they temporarily shut you down or just charge you more money? (If this happens to you, temporarily shutting down is the much less expensive option.)
2) Disk space. If the 10 or 20 megabytes from your ISP isn't enough room to hold all your pages and graphics, how much space do you actually need? If you've already built all your site's pages and have them all in a folder, check the folder's size. In Windows, right-click the folder, choose Properties, and then look at the "Size on Disk" figure. On the Mac, Control-click (or right-click) a folder and then choose Get Info to see its size. Be sure to take into account any new pages or sections you may want to add to your site in the future.
3) Price. You shouldn't pay more than $10 or $15 a month in hosting fees for a small site. If the price is higher, find out why; see if the company is tossing in tools and features you don't need.
By and large, with Web hosting, you get what you pay for. True bargains are few and far between. Keep this in mind when you come across hosts that offer "free" service. Free hosts generally don't give you as many account options (or as good) as the pay-by-the-month outfits, and forget about customer service.
In addition, you have to remember high-school economics. These people remain in business by making a profit. They have to get money somehow. And that somehow is off you. Free Web hosts typically load your site with advertisements, advertisements that you can't control, turn off, modify, or move.
Conversely, the angry visitor emails complaining about your shameless, ubiquitous advertising go right to your in-box. Your free Web host lets you handle these. They're all yours.
Adrien Brody (http://crivz.com/host/) is a webmaster which specializes in providing website hosting solutions for businesses. If you're looking for web hosting with best support in the industry at the best possible price, take a look at http://crivz.com/host/