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Set Up Your Web Server or Select an IPP to Host Your Site?

Your Web site is a series of files that reside on a special computer, called a Web server, connected to the Internet. For customers to visit your site, they must actually connect to that Web server via the Internet and view the files. Web servers and the Internet connections that link them to visitors must be fast and powerful enough to quickly respond to all the visitors' requests to view your site.

Many small and medium sized e-commerce businesses prefer to turn to an Internet Presence Provider (IPP) or Web hosting company, instead of investing in the hardware, software, and infrastructure necessary to get online. For a monthly fee, IPPs and Web hosting companies will connect your site to the Internet at high speed via one of their Web servers, allowing the site to be viewed by anyone with an Internet connection and a Web browser.

The host provides your site with space on a server, and also offers Web server software, access to its high-speed Internet connection, tools for managing and maintaining your site, customer support, e-commerce features, and more. There are hundreds of IPP and Web hosting options to choose from, so look for one that can meet all your needs.

What to Look for in a Web Hosting Company

  • Hard-disk storage space. Smaller sites may need only 25 MB (megabytes) of website storage space, while busier e-commerce sites may need at least 400 MB (megabytes) of space. As your site grows, your IPP should be able to accommodate you with a range of options.

  • Availability. If you run an e-commerce business, your site must be accessible to customers 24 hours a day. IPPs and Web hosts maximize the availability of the sites they host using techniques like load balancing and clustering. Can your IPP promise near-100-percent availability?

  • E-mail accounts. E-mail accounts that match your domain name are often available from your IPP. Are they included with your monthly access and hosting fee?

  • SSL Encryption: The security of the credit card numbers and other personal information customers send you should be a top concern. Does your IPP or Web host protect your site with an SSL Certificate?

  • Support. A big part of the value of turning to an IPP or Web host is that you don't have to worry about keeping the Web server running. Does your host offer FREE customer support?

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