This review tells you all about what types of Maintenance Tools may add to or influence your decision in picking a web host. Having the best host with the most space for the cheapest price means nothing if it’s a pain to maintain your site! Below are things my web host (brinkster) offers and whether or not this improves my opinion of them.
This is mentioned first because it is something most companies may be looking for. If you are creating a website for your small business, you want to be able to create email accounts at your domain. Such as: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You want to make sure your web host offers email addresses, but along with that you want to know how easy it is to manage.
My web host has a very nice email address that let’s me create emails with mydomain.com OR brinkster.com. Creating the email addresses is quick and I can even choose to forward the emails or save them on the brinkster services. This brings me to my next point which is….
Checking Your Email
Having email at yourdomain.com is cool, but I’ve been at web hosts in the past where it was very difficult to check your mail! Either that or you could only forward the mail and not save it online. Brinkster is awesome because I have email saved on the site AND forwarded to me. This means I have two copies of everything and I can be sure nothing will be lost. Besides that, brinkster has a very nice email interface that looks almost like outlook. I am able to check all my various brinkster email addresses with ease.
You might also want to see if your web hosts offers remote email checking (ie checking your brinkster mail from your computer) I don’t know if that’s what it’s called, but it sounds good. Basically, make sure it’s easy to get the mail from your web host, or else you probably will never use that service.
The file manager is a big deal to me. I like to be able to access all my website files via the internet at any time. Brinkster allows me to do this. An additional feature you may want to look out for is if you can edit files in your browser. Some services make you download a file, edit it, and upload it back. Brinkster lets you edit it right in the browser. After you save it, your page is instantly updated.
Another cool feature that brinkster has, as well as some other services I’ve used, is a rich text editor. If you are not very technically inclined, you can use these to basically create text, tables and pictures as you would in MS Word, or in your email. The web host automatically designs the code for you. On your end, all you see is the text and tables, the code is hidden so it’s really simple. This is a great service for those who want a nice website but don’t have the resources to do it.
If your website uses databases (as mine does) you will need to make sure your web host has a database manager. This allows you to create tables and run queries on your database without having to create a whole web page to do it. You’ll find this very useful for when your users make a data entry mistake, or if you need to get a piece of information real fast.
Try your best to register your domain through your web host and you’ll save a load of time. If you can register your domain through the host, you won’t need to worry about a separate registrar. This is nice because you won’t have to remember multiple passwords! Plus, it’s likely you’ll be in your web host all the time, but you only need to visit your registrar once a year or so and you might forget that password. I like having everything registered in one place.
Some web hosts offer the service to instantly build your website. “Just pick a template, and provide the content and they’ll put it together” Some web hosts which I used to use were great at this! However, brinkster isn’t doing that well in that category. I tested it out a few months ago, and after an hour of tweaking and setting content and preferences, I got an error! and it was all lost. However, some hosts have a better web creator. If you are looking for an easy out-of-the-box website, than make sure you have these tools available at your web host. If this isn’t your concern because you have someone else that is going to design your site, than you can ignore this point.
Brinkster offers limited free stats and hits, so I signed up at statcounter.com for free to track more details. However if statistics are real important to you, check to see if your web host has this information before you sign up. Some sites offer real time detailed stats, and others offer daily updates, while others only offer a very summarized detail once a day. You should see what your web host has to offer and decide if you need more stats before you sign up.
This isn’t so much a tool, but it is important. Having some available support, code bank, forums or live help is really a great bonus that Brinkster offers. See if the host you are signing up with has this. You’ll find a lot of help out of talking with other users because they are using the same host and have likely had the same problems. It’s easier to work out problems with someone who has already used the service.
FTP or Frontpage
Of course the easiest way to maintain your page is with FTP, which is something you have to get on your own, BUT you have to make sure your web host will allow you to FTP. This has the added benefit that all pages you FTP are saved on your local machine as well. Alternatively, Brinkster works with Frontpage so I can easily connect to my website at anytime. If you are a Frontpage user, this option should be a MUST in your search for a webhost.
I think those are all the tools you really need. You will probably also have account pages that allow you to edit your name, billing, etc, but those are just standard tools. If your website gets a thumbs up for all of the above tools than you are way ahead of the game! Do your research and you will be glad you did.