What does your web hosting package need to include?
article compiled by steve

Continuing our mini-series about web hosting, this time we are looking at the basic requirements to consider when choosing a website hosting package.
As a minimum requirement in our opinion, your hosting company should provide you the ability to perform several basic functions. Beware that they don’t limit you to controlling your email or billing and nothing more.
Firstly, let us look at some of the basic requirements we think you should be provided with as part of your hosting package.


Control Panel
Your hosting package should have a control panel that allows you to perform updates and amendments to your website.
Sadly many hosting companies claim to have a control panel that in reality is little more than a place to update email accounts, access and read your email online and alter your billing details.
A competent hosting company should in reality offer you much more. You may not think you’ll want to use all these features now, however as your business develops you may change your mind.


Email accounts.
Some hosts will let you have control over your email accounts, others will do all the set up for you. Being able to change the accounts yourself is easier than you think.
It is also quicker than having to raise a tech support request, each time you wanted to change a setting on your email accounts.
It is also worth checking how many email accounts you can have on your hosting package. Some hosting companies have restrictions on the number of accounts or maximum size of mail boxes. Whilst many of us may not send or receive large volumes of email you wouldn’t want to find the size of your email box restrictive so you potentially are unable to receive an important business email.


Parked domains
Many hosting plans do not allow more than one domain name (your www. website address) to be situated on the same hosting plan. Being able to add additional ” parked domains ” or web addresses  on your hosting plan is a good idea. If not now then in the future you may decide to have different domain names pointing to the same website.


File Manager
In many ways a file manager is one of the most important things (email aside) that you should have on your hosting plan. A file manager gives you the ability to upload or add things to your website, create folders, delete items on your hosting space or move things to alternative locations.
Having access to a file manager is also worth having especially if you don’t have a FTP program on your computer, which allows you a direct connection from your PC to you hosting plan.



There are other features that are beneficial to have. These will depend on what need you have for them on your website.
Other features include:


PHP module
PHP is a special code that runs on the web hosting plan. It allows you to offer lots of extra functionality. Unless you’re skilled in computer programming or purchase pre-made software you’ll probably need someone else to write any php code you require for you. Having a PHP module installed on your hosting plan is worthwhile but  is not always standard on your hosting package.


MySQL databases
Databases are used in so many different websites, they control things from a simple list of email addresses through to entire shop product lists , website content and much more. Having databases also means that you could have a Content Management System (CMS) on your website. Using a CMS would give you the ability to update your website yourself. Be aware that databases are sometimes limited on certain hosting packages.


PHP my admin
PHP MyAdmin is a really effective way for your web designer or developer to access your MySQL databases. Why pay your web designer to install this software when many hosting companies offer it as standard?  phpMyAdmin also allows you to backup your databases and also to export them to a Excel document for easy reading or transfer of the data.


When choosing your web hosting package, it is always best to look at what’s included rather than just looking at the price.


Next time we’ll look at two key features of your web hosting plan bandwidth and disk space. We’ll explain these key features in more detail and provide examples to help you decide the usage you could require and the implications of skimping on either of these features.


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