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What Type of Hosting are available?

With more than 30,000 companies to choose from, picking the right host isn't easy. To simplify issues, we've split the market into three broad categories: DIY hosts for newbies, high-volume providers that sell shared hosting accounts to thousands of users, and high-end vendors of dedicated servers, which provide nearly unlimited amounts of space, machines, bandwidth, and support for large-scale Web operations.
Discount do-it-yourself hosts
Millions of Netizens call sites such as GeoCities or Homestead their home on the Net. And why not? These hosting sites are both easy and cheap--in fact, you can still get a free hosting account on GeoCities if you don't mind an ad flashing on your page. Ad-free sites start around $5 per month; they include 25MB to store files on your site and 5GB of bandwidth per month but no e-mail; as you pay more, you can add more goodies, including basic e-commerce tools--perfect for selling homemade goods, your collection of old baseball cards, or other hobbyist endeavors. But their cookie-cutter design templates and limited bandwidth and storage offerings will leave serious users hungry for more.

Monthly fee: $5 to $35
Bandwidth: 5GB to 10GB per month
Storage: 25MB to 300MB
E-mail accounts: 0 to 10
Other tools: An FTP (file transfer protocol) site makes uploading files easier and faster; the option to receive payments via PayPal saves you fees associated with credit card authorizations.
Best for: Very small online shops and newbies who don't want to learn HTML.

Shared hosting
Want your fair share of the Web? Vendors such as Affinity, CI Host, and Interland would be happy to sell you a piece. The vast majority of the world's Web sites employ a shared hosting provider, where hundreds of individual sites live on one enterprise-level machine. Here, there is an equally vast range of offerings, from packages with a hundred megabytes of bandwidth and a handful of e-mail accounts to unlimited amounts of everything. You may have to pay a start-up fee of $25 or more for a shared host, and your tech-support experience can vary wildly. The big shared hosts, such as CI Host, also offer dedicated servers, so you can move up the scale as your business grows. If your bandwidth and storage needs are exploding but you can't afford the expense or the maintenance of a dedicated server, you can often opt for a virtual private server, a storage- and bandwidth-rich machine that only a handful of users share.

Monthly fee: $10 to $300
Bandwidth: 5GB to 100GB per month
Storage: 50MB to 120GB
E-mail accounts: 5 to 100
Other tools: E-commerce suites, traffic analysis, marketing, design.
Best for: Small businesses that don't have a dedicated Web know-it-all or an IT department; large businesses with simple Web site needs.

Dedicated hosting
Dedicated hosting means just that: the server is yours and yours alone. Providers such as Rackspace, INetU, and Fry will lease you a bare-bones Linux box for $200 to $500 per month. But if you have a large or complex Web site, you'll likely use multiple servers for Web pages, e-mail, databases, and streaming media; monthly fees can hit six figures on the high end. There are two types of dedicated host: unmanaged (or self-managed), where the host provides the equipment but you maintain it and your site; and managed hosting, where the provider also keeps your server online and up-to-date with the latest security patches--usually for more money. Many providers in this space also sell colocation services where you bring the servers and staff, while they provide a secure facility with rack space, electricity, and all the bandwidth you can eat. With managed hosting, you're really paying for peace of mind: state-of-the-art security, multiple redundant systems, load balancing for spikes in traffic, tenacious backup, and 24/7 access to a live human who can bring your site back when it crashes at 3 a.m.
Monthly fee: $200 to six figures
Bandwidth: 15GB to all you can eat per month
Storage: 40GB and up
E-mail accounts: Unlimited
Other tools: E-commerce, traffic management, site monitoring, site-design services, search tools, firewall, intrusion detection, and just about any other tool you can think of.
Best for: Large enterprises, e-commerce sites, or Web-centric small to medium-size businesses.

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