Consider your ISP a business partner--a partner you choose according to your best interests. To determine which ISP is best, ask the following questions:
- How much disk space--the space your files take up on the server--are they giving you? "On the server, this is where you put your Web pages," says Jill Ellsworth. "Most companies have set pricing: x amount for five meg (MB), x amount for ten meg (MB). That's good for a certain amount of traffic, but if you're getting half a million "hits" (the number of users who access a site) a month, they're going to want to charge you more because you're taking up more computer resources." Some ISPs also charge for the amount of KB downloaded by users, which taxes the host's server.
- Know what services your ISP provides. Besides a monthly service charge, most providers will bill you for "extras," like a surplus of people visiting your site, or if you decide to add pages. You need to find out exactly what is included in your monthly cost--and be aware of what additional charges might occur. Find out, also, what services your ISP offers. Is there a technical support line? Will they give monthly reports on the number of hits the site had? Will they analyze the data they send you?
- Finally, does the server encrypt information, like charge card numbers? If you're taking orders online, this is something you--and your customers--might desire.
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