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Choosing an ASP Web Hosting Plan

You're getting into ASP development and want to choose a web hosting plan that lets you have all the fun ASP offers. How do you know how to choose a web host?

One of the most critical choices you can make is in bandwidth. Bandwidth is the measure of how much information you send out to your visitors each month. If you only have a few images this might not be a large amount. If you do involve images, pictures, MP3s or other larger files, this could be extremely important. Websites can use anywhere from 20mb a month through 10 gig a month or more.

Most websites now offer 30 gig to 50 gig a month for under $10/month. Be sure not to overpay - shop around!

Storage Space
Storage space is the amount of disk space on the hosting company's server that is available to you to store your HTML files, ASP files, images and other content. Look through the files you have and figure out how much space you will need. Most web servers offer a gig of disk space to start with, for under $10/month.

Just because you have a lot of disk space, don't use it unwisely. Be sure to compress all images that you use. Keep your HTML and ASP files optimized. The smaller your files are, the more quickly your site will load. Visitors will abandon your website if it loads too slowly.

Database Choice
Various ASP hosting plans offer various database options. Some offer no database at all and simply let you write scripts in ASP to do simple operations. Some offer the very basics in database options - either Access or MySQL. Either of these are OK for very tiny websites, but will not stand up to more serious traffic.

If you are really intending to get a good number of visitors to your site, it's best to go with a MSSQL database. MSSQL is built to handle high traffic loads, with the multiple record lock and indexing issues involved. It's no harder or easier to code against, either.

While you shouldn't ever go for the cheapest plan just because it's cheap, you don't want to be taken advantage of either. There's a saying that "you get what you pay for" and going for a really cheap plan can leave you with a website that crashes regularly, that has no support and that is very slow. But you also should get a reasonable price. There are many sites out there that try to charge you double or triple the reasonable rates just because they think they can trick people into paying.

So shop around. Once you decide WHAT you want, look around to see what various companies charge for that level of service. Research each company's quality ratings on ASP websites. Are there complaints about them? Praise? When you find a company that seems a good match for your needs, it's time for the final step.

I would HIGHLY advise against signing any contract that lasts longer than 6 months at first. There are millions of things you learn about a company in the first 6 months that you cannot tell from just talking to them. You will learn if the server is stable, if the company is responsive, if the speed is adequate, if there are any troubles. I personally would go month to month for at least the first 3 months, and after that I might sign up for longer periods of time if it gave me a cost break.

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