Once upon a time it was considered rare, unique and cutting edge to be able to answer "yes" when someone asked whether you had your own website.
My how times have changed! In fact, the whole world appears to be going global.
And acquiring web space has become as common and easy as selecting telephone, cable or dish TV service - well, almost.
Web hosting is the service which allows anyone to post web pages to the Internet.
It's a simple enough idea.
But finding the right web hosting service to meet your particular needs is far from simple.
In fact, some of the difficulty in selecting the web hosting provider that's "just right" is due to the huge selection and options that are available.
Here are three things you must consider when deciding which web hosting plan is right for you...
First, there are basically two types of web hosting services: free and paid.
Free web hosting provides you free web space to post your web pages.
But there's a trade off.
You'll not only be limited in the amount of web space and traffic you receive, your website will typically contain advertisements from the company hosting your web pages.
And often times, these advertisements appear in the form of large, annoying banner ads at either the top or bottom of each of your web pages.
This might not be such a big deal if your web site is only a family or hobby site.
But this type of distraction is totally unacceptable for almost all business purposes.
Second, if you desire a web hosting solution for business purposes, then you'll want to consider paying for your web hosting services.
And the first option you'll want to consider is whether you want "shared" hosting - which means that you'll be sharing web hosting space with other users, or whether you want "dedicated" hosting - which means you'll have an entire computer dedicated to hosting your web pages.
Obviously, shared is cheaper than dedicated hosting.
And, for a vast majority of web hosting needs, shared hosting is the ideal solution.
Your website will be free of advertisements you don't want and the cost of web hosting is reduced.
Dedicated web hosting is typically used by huge businesses or organizations that desire, and are willing to pay extra, to have their web pages hosted separately from other web users.
There are a variety of reasons this might make sense.
For example, a company may have sensitive information they need to host and a dedicated web hosting server is ideal to maximize privacy and security.
Third, you'll need to decide which payment plan makes the most sense to you.
Typically, you can pay by the month, every three months, yearly or a one-time fee for lifetime hosting.
How long you contract web hosting services for really depends upon your web hosting needs.
If you're relatively new to building and hosting your own web pages, then you might want to opt for a monthly service.
Experiment a bit and extend the service if you find it meets your needs.
One thing you'll definitely want to watch out for is the "trial" web hosting package.
These contracts offer, for example, the first 60 days free and then require that you make a longer term commitment.
While this type of arrangement may seem quite appealing, it's based upon the web hosting company betting that at the end of the "trial" period it will be too much of a hassle for you to move your web pages to another hosting service, so you'll just stick with them.
So, forewarned is forearmed.
The renewal of monthly, quarterly and yearly web hosting packages all work essentially the same way.
Once the term is expired, you'll have to renew your contract and pay another fee.
If you're late, your credit card is declined, or you simply decide not to renew, your web hosting account will be closed.
In essence, it's like paying rent on an apartment.
So remember, if you need to host web pages for a family project or hobby, a free website might be just the ticket.
But any use beyond that almost requires that you select either shared or dedicated web hosting services if you want others to take your web site seriously.
Finally, with web hosting costing from $80 per year and up, you'll want to carefully consider the features you get in whatever web hosting package you select.
Remember, once you've chosen a web host provider and taken the trouble to upload your web pages and get everything set "just right" it's a major hassle to take everything down and move to another web host provider.