How do I choose the right hosting package?

Choosing the correct hosting package is a very important step in getting your web site online.

If miscalculated, you could end up spending a lot of extra money on hosting that you don't really need. Some basic questions that you need to answer before you pick a hosting package, include:

  • How much bandwidth do I truly need?
  • How many hits is my site most likely to get?
  • Are there ways that I can avoid using too much bandwidth?
  • Will I be installing several scripts on my site?
  • How many mailboxes must I set up?
  • How much space is required for my mailboxes?

Our packages were designed with these questions in mind. We firmly believe that for 95% of our clients the "Lite Package" (our smallest package) should be more than sufficient to effectively run a web site. And the reality is, over the last 3 years we have proved this theory to be spot on.

Currently, 95% of our users are in fact, signed up on the lite package. So, let's see if you form part of this 95% or if your requirements are more.

The Lite Package has the following features:

  1. 400 Mb Space
  2. 4000 Mb Bandwidth
  3. 20 Mailboxes
  4. 1 MySQL Database

Web Space:

400 Megabytes really do go a long way nowadays. Most web sites hosted by us rarely use more than 50% of their allotted web space. To get a feel for how much 400 Mb is on the internet, I've listed a few examples of what you can do with 100 Mb...

100 Mb equals approximately:

  • 2000 Images, or
  • 34000 HTML Pages
  • 10 videos

These are just rough estimates, but should give you a fair idea of what can be done with 100 Mb.

Let's say you want to install Joomla, a very advanced Content Management Systems available for free through Fantastico. This will use a total of 12.1 Mb of your total web space. The same goes for most of the scripts available for free through Fantastico.

They rarely take up more than about 10 Mb of space. Basically, unless you are running an intense media site or expect to host several thousands of pictures on your web site, it is extremely unlikely that you will need more than 100Mb web space.

Bandwidth:

Bandwidth is basically how much traffic your web site will allow. Every time someone accesses your site they are actually downloading data from our server (or who ever is hosting the site's server). For example, if you have a picture of 50Kb on the site, your total bandwidth for the month will decrease by 50Kb every time someone accesses that picture.

Clients usually over-estimate bandwidth completely. Any new-comer would like to believe their web site will generate a large amount of traffic. The reality is that very few do at first.

Even those that do generate large numbers of unique hits, rarely require huge amounts of bandwidth. Only in cases where web sites become large multimedia portals, does bandwidth ever really become a problem.

Sites that might require a lot of bandwidth even though few unique hits occur, include:

  • Photo gallery sites
  • Streaming video / audio sites
  • Sites with large archived documents
  • Sites with other large downloadable files (zip, exe etc)

To give you an idea of how much 1000 Mb bandwidth is, I'll use an example. A normal HTML web page with some graphics is rarely more than about 100Kb. In fact, 100Kb is a a fairly large web page.

With 1000 Mb bandwidth, this will allow users to access your site 10000 times. This gives you an average of about 333 hits a day. The most successful web site in Namibia that I know of, gets about 200 unique hits a day.

Most sites are lucky to get 10 - 40 unique hits per day. Basically, unless you have a extremely big advertising campaign and expect hundreds (or thousands) of hits, it's unlikely you will be using any more than than 1000Mb of bandwidth.

The average bandwidth on sites hosted by Namhost is 150Mb, not even close to a fifth of the total amount available.

Mailboxes:

The lite package comes with 20 mailboxes. This means you can set up 20 email addresses with SMTP and POP access. You can specify the size of the mailboxes to be anything.

It is even possible to set up 20 mailboxes of 50 megs each. This will of course add up to 1000Mb space, which is well over your 400Mb limit. However, this space only contributes to your limit when it's used. So, only as emails are received, will you start getting closer to your limit.

It is also possible to set up unlimited forwarders. Let's say you have a gmail account, myFakeAddress@gmail.com. It is possible to setup e-mail accounts in cPanel that will forward to this account. And you can set up as many as you want.

Most business set up info@theirdomain.com, sales@theirdomain.com and support@theirdomain.com. It's a lot more professional than having an @mweb.co.za, @gmail or @iway.na account, but makes it easier for you by sending all emails to one central mailbox.

So basically, with the lite package, it's possible to create 20 mailboxes and if that's not enough, you can set up an unlimited amount of forwarders! So again, it's very unlikely that you will need more than 20 mailboxes.

MySQL Databases:

MySQL Databases are primarily used for installing scripts. Although it's possible to install many scripts on one Database, Fantastico requires you to use one Database per script. So, having more than one database is purely a convenience.

Seeing as most web sites just run one CMS (such as Joomla) or one Forum (such as SMF) it's rarely necessary to have more than one DB.

Conclusion:

Unless you are 100% sure that you will be using an enormous amount of traffic, it might be a good idea to start with a small package.

You can always upgrade to a larger package at a later stage, and it definitely might be worth the effort if it means you'll be saving a few bucks.