According to our 2006 AllBusiness survey on Web hosting, the largest number of AllBusiness readers (31 percent) who have a Web site are hosting it at Yahoo! Small Business Web hosting services. In second place is the category of “Other” provider (19 percent), while third place (18 percent) goes to in-house hosting. “Local” ISP providers ranked fourth (11 percent), followed by national providers Microsoft’s Small Business Services (8 percent), AOL (5 percent), GoDaddy (3 percent), and 1&1 (3 percent).
Let’s take a brief look at the offerings of the five named hosting services: Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL, GoDaddy, and 1&1.
Yahoo! Small Business
Yahoo! Offers what is easily the widest variety of Web hosting services, at a variety of attractive prices.
Visit the Yahoo! Small Business Services home page to find descriptions of services ranging from simple “presence” pages that start at $11.95, to a $39.95 “Professional” package with more storage and bandwidth; e-commerce-empowered sites starting at $39.95 and going up to $299.95 for those doing serious online business, plus marketing tools and other add-ons to boost visitorship and help you manage your online business.
Yahoo! Small Business supplies an easy-to-use program called Site Builder for creating your site. They also support Microsoft FrontPage, Adobe GoLive, Macromedia Dreamweaver, and Microsoft Publisher, if you have any of those. They support scripting languages such as PHP and Perl, and the MySQL database is available.
Microsoft Web Hosting for Small Business
It takes a bit of creative navigation to find Microsoft Web Hosting for Small Business at the otherwise excellent Microsoft Small Business site, but once you get there you’ll find a variety of decently-priced Web hosting services.
Prices start at $12.95 per month; the Professional package is $49.95 per month; basic e-commerce services start at $24.95 per month. They come with a Web creation program, and also support FrontPage and Microsoft Publisher. The higher-priced packages support Microsoft’s ASP.NET 2.0 platform, for you programmers out there.
Microsoft offers banner advertising packages for marketing your Web site, and search-engine submission and optimization features for $49 a year. Microsoft will help you do e-mail marketing, starting at $19.95 per month, and offers other services for generating “leads” to potential customers. Microsoft has a unique appointment-scheduling product that lets your customers set up appointments, if that’s useful for the kind of business you run; it costs an extra $29.95 per month.
Microsoft is also testing a service concept called “Microsoft Office Live,” which is actually another version of its Web hosting service, except that its lowest-priced package will be free — supported by advertising they will place on your site. That may launch sometime in 2007, with easy design templates and various upgraded levels of service at various prices.
GoDaddy may be the all-time Web hosting pricing bargain for small businesses. You can get started by paying as little as $3.99 per month for the company’s Economy Plan, which along with disk space, bandwidth, and mailboxes, includes support for the MySQL database and for the FrontPage Web site builder, if you have either or both of them. You can get support for the ColdFusion database development system for $1.99 per month, and the package includes controls for so-called hosted applications.
Everything gets larger if you opt for GoDaddy’s DeLuxe Plan, then larger still with the Premium Plan, which comes with 100GB of storage, 1,000GB of data transfer, and 2,000 mailboxes — enough to give one to each of your enemies as well as to all of your friends. The Deluxe and Premium Plans also include $25 credit towards Google AdWords, and the Premium Plan includes SSL (secure server) services.
All GoDaddy plans include blogging and forum support, a photo gallery, firewall protection, and free site statistics.
1&1 is a European company that offers two lines of “Microsoft Hosting” services suited to business use.
1&1 Microsoft Business package costs $9.99 per month and includes more capacity than you’ll need — 100GB of data storage and 1,000GB of monthly transfer volume and 2,000 e-mail boxes. You also get chat channels, Web statistics, a newsletter tool (hmm!), and a forms tool, for marketing and for e-commerce applications. Besides the site builder, you get the 1&1 Photo Gallery, a maps and directions tool, and the Dynamic Content Catalog tool for maintaining a product catalog. It supports Microsoft FrontPage, and includes a library of CGI applications and ASP support for your programmers. You can offer visitors an RSS feed if you update your content regularly. 1&1 has its own database, or you can opt for Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL Server if you have them.
The 1&1 Microsoft Developer service costs $19.99 per month, ups the storage to 150GB and the monthly transfer to 1,500GB, and gives you 3,000 mail boxes. In addition it adds security features, and some other Web creation and maintenance tools. Obviously, you’d be interested only if you had a developer around.