Beginners Guide - Features Chart Explained
The currency of the monthly price, i.e. USD, GBP, CAD or AUD. Most plans
listed in our directory are in USD.
Monthly Price (Setup Fee)
We record prices for 6 different billing cycles - 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 12
months, 24 months and 36 months. The monthly prices shown are the average hosting cost for each month
based on the specific billing cycle. Setup fee is charged only once when you order a new account. Usually, monthly
price is cheaper and setup fee is waived if you prepay for a longer period.
Also known as disk storage. Calculated in the unit of MB (Mega Bytes). Disk
space is used to store the contents of your web site,
including all of your HTML files, images, videos and anything else that is downloadable by your visitors. Your allocated disk space
is also used to store your emails, web access log files and database files. Text files (HTML) will not consume
a lot of disk space. It is the binary files that will take up a lot of disk
space. Binary files include pictures, MP3s, videos, sharewares and others. Disk space is only
meaningful with sufficient allocated bandwidth. Web hosts usually offer sufficient disk space (>
MB) with their plans. These days, amongst increased competition between web
hosting providers, it is common to find hosting plans with unlimited disk space,
which coupled with domain add-ons is a great value (A domain add-on allows you
to publish multiple websites under the same hosting account).
Also known as data transfer. Measured in GB (Giga Bytes, 1 GB = 1024 MB
~ 1000 MB). Bandwidth is more valuable than disk space. Your
bandwidth usage is the amount of data transfer from your web site to your visitors. It is measured on a monthly basis
and is 'reset' at the beginning of each month. Your bandwidth usage will vary
every month depending on how large your files are and how many
visitors you have to your site. Bandwidth is like real estate, except in this
case, it is virtual space on the World Wide Web that you are leasing.
If you assume there will be 5,000 visitors to your site in a month and each
of them will download 10 of your pictures that are 50 KB each, you will need
5,000 x 10 x 50 KB = 2,500,000 KB which is equivalent to 2.5 GB of bandwidth.
This is the easiest way to estimate your bandwidth. Usually text files (HTML)
will not consume a lot of bandwidth because they are naturally small in size.
Your bandwidth estimation should be based on the binary files usage (pictures, ZIP
files, Macromedia Flash, MP3s ...). Again, with heightened competition amongst
web hosting providers, unlimited bandwidth usage is not uncommon. If you are on
a low monthly budget and cannot afford long-term hosting packages with unlimited
bandwidth, use the aforementioned formula to estimate your bandwidth usage and
choose a plan accordingly. You can always upgrade or downgrade your hosting
package at a later time.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. FTP allows you to
upload and download files to/from your account. This is the most
common way people use to send files to their web host. You will
need a tool to do so, and there are several free ones out there. We can safely
assume all paid hosting providers allow their members to
FTP to their site because it is just too common and important.
However many free hosting providers do not allow FTP because they
need to force their members to use their web-based upload tool
so they can display advertisements. You will need a correct username
and password to FTP to your account, which you will choose
during account setup. Keep in mind that FTP is not the only way to
publish content to your website. In fact, a more common method
(and easier one) are WYSIWYG web publishers like Front Page and
Microsoft Expression Web (more info below).
CGI-BIN, Perl, SSI
CGI stands for Common Gateway Interface.
You certainly have reached some web sites that require login or do some online
purchase. In a login process, the server needs to check and verify your username
and password and/or check your credit card information, which is done by
executable scripts. CGI is the interface between
these scripts and the server. CGI-BIN is a special directory used to store these
scripts. CGI scripts can be written in many languages but the most popular is Perl (Website). SSI stands for Server Side Includes.
SSI offers some dynamic features to your web pages, such as including a current
date to your page.
Perl scripts were popular in the old days, but have been challenged by PHP (see
for the last few years. PHP is more powerful and yet more easy to use because it
is designed for the Web. Perl is a programming language which is not designed
for the web to begin with. SSI is also rarely used nowadays because
of its limited features. Everything that can be done by SSI can easily be done
in a PHP script. Regardless, a CGI-BIN, Perl and SSI are usually included in a paid
PHP stands for PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (Homepage).
It is a very powerful scripting language created specially
for the web. It can be used to write a lot of scripts, i.e.
scripts that check for login information, discussion forums, shopping
carts and many more. PHP is not difficult to learn, especially
for those who have programmed before in other languages. If you
are interested in learning it, it is recommended that you get
a book about it.
Microsoft FrontPage (Homepage)
is a very popular WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web builder software.
With FrontPage extensions installed, you are allowed to publish your site
directly to your web host via Microsoft FrontPage. If you are concerned whether FrontPage is compatible with a Unix server,
the answer is Yes! There
are FrontPage extensions specially written for the Unix systems which allow you
to publish your site to a Unix server. Our sites are published from Microsoft
FrontPage running on a Windows PC to a Unix server. The fact is, most FrontPage
users are actually publishing their sites to a Unix server without even
understanding what Unix is! The FrontPage program may soon no longer be
available, but no worries, because, Microsoft is replacing it with a WYSIWYG
program called Microsoft Expression Web, that performs even more functions than
Raw Log Files
Raw log files are text files generated by your web
server. Basically raw log files contain information about your site visitors, i.e visitor
IP addresses, accessed files, the site visitors came from
(referrals). Raw log files are hard to be read directly as they
'raw', but there are many Web Statistics software programs available to
analyze raw log files. The analyzer will generate useful
and easy to read Web Statistics (with numbers and graphs) for
you. One such popular tool is WebTrends.
When someone visits a protected directory that has been created by you,
will need to have the correct username and password before they can view the
contents of that directory. For an example, you might want to have a section
of your pictures available only to your paid members. All you need to do is put
those pictures in a protected directory and assign a username/password pair to
each of your paid members.
This feature allows you to give permission to anyone for downloading files or
even uploading files to your account via FTP. Of course, you will have to create a
special directory for this so they won't mess up your important files. If you
have anonymous FTP enabled, anyone can login to your account via an FTP tool
without the need of a username and password. Usually, the web host requires a
visitor to login using anonymous as username and their email address as
password. Let's say you want your visitor to send you new photos to publish.
Instead of asking them to email you the pictures, which would take several
emails depending on the file sizes, you can ask them to
FTP the pictures to your account. Of course, they will need to know how to FTP!
:) Most web hosts do not offer anonymous FTP with their plans.
Also know as Shell Access. It allows you to login to your host's system and
execute commands on it! You may delete files, upload files, and check emails on the
remote system. Due to security concerns, almost all hosts do not allow Telnet/SSH.
For basic web publishing, shell access is not an essential feature anyways.
You should already be familiar with this. An email account looks like
email@example.com and allows you to send mail and receive mail from
it. Email account are usually accessed with an email client such as Outlook
Express or Eudora. They can also be accessed with your browser (i.e. Internet
Explorer, Netscape, etc.) if the Web-Based Email feature is provided. Most hosts
provide web-based email.
An email forwarder is an email address but is not a real email account. It
will just forward any email received by it to another email address that you
have configured. For an example, you can setup a forwarder firstname.lastname@example.org
and post it everywhere in your site. When somebody sends an email to it, you can
configure it to forward to your sales manager email@example.com. The benefit of
posting firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com to your
homepage is that you won't have to
change everything in your site if Joe happens to quit his job. Instead,
all you have to do is login to your email control panel and reconfigure your forwarder.
You can configure an email address to be both an email account and a
forwarder. In this case, you can send mail and receive mail with this email
address, while at the same time, all emails received will be forwarded to another
An autoresponder is also an email address. It will send a preset message
to the sender when it receivs any email. The most basic use of an
autoresponder is to notify the sender that the email has been received
successfully. Another good use of an autoresponder is to send a list of top
FAQ's to the sender. This will
save a lot of time for both you and the sender if the answer he/she needs is in the FAQ!
If an autoresponder email address is not setup as an email account, the
emails received will not be saved. So, if messages received with an
autoresponder need to be read later, it must be configured as an email account
If this feature is provided, you can access your mailbox with a browser
(i.e. Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc.) just like a Hotmail or Yahoo email
Ordinary email accounts are POP accounts. POP stands for Post Office
Protocol. It is a very simple protocol to receive email. When an email is sent
to a POP email account, the server stores it until the user checks and retrieves
the mail through a mail program like Outlook Express. Once the mail is retrieved, it will be removed from the server. You
must use the exact computer the next time you want to refer to this specific
email. This creates a problem when someone is using their email account from
multiple places/computers, such as an office and home. For example, if you
retrieve an email via POP on your office computer, you won't be able to view
that email or reply to it from you home computer. IMAP is a new protocol created
mainly to solve this problem. IMAP stands for Internet Message
Access Protocol (Homepage).
An IMAP email account will have all the emails stored and managed from the
server. No matter which computer you are using, your email client will
access the same mailbox at the server so you do not need to worry about where
you have saved your email. However, POP is still far more common than IMAP
today. Email clients that support IMAP efficiently are Outlook Express and
A mailing list allows you to control a list of email addresses effectively.
You can manage it through a control panel with a lot of features such as adding
and removing members. Users can also opt-in or opt-out of the mailing list by
clicking on a link or using a web form. You can also determine who can send
email to the mailing list. If you are the only one who can send emails to the
list, then it is probably a newsletter. If all people are given the right to
send email to it, then it becomes a discussion mailing list.
Money Back Guarantee
This one goes without saying. It's the number of days in which you can ask for a refund if you are unsatisfied with
the service, and in the world of web hosting most hosts offer a
money-back-guarantee. If they don't, you may want to think twice about opening
an account. It is always a good shopping practice to look for hosts that offer
money back guarantees. Note that only hosting fees will be refundable. Setup fee
and domain registration fee will not be refunded for almost all cases. But you
will still own your the right to your registered domain name.
Toll Free Support
Allows you to call your web hosts toll free. It's a good
idea to choose a host that does so. Unless you have unlimited
coast-to-coast cell phone minutes, toll-free support is an
important feature to have - especially if this is your first time
having a website hosted. Otherwise, hosting companies usually
respond very quickly through email and forums.