15 essential ingredients of any windows hosting plan:
1. ASP Support – The clear reason why you chose a windows plan is to use Microsoft Specific Languages. Active Server Pages, Microsoft\'s technology to enables HTML pages to be dynamic and interactive by embedding scripts. Check all the windows hosting plans and make sure, the host doesn't charge for this extra.
2. .NET Support – ASP.net is the next generation of Microsoft\'s Active Server Page (ASP), a feature of their Internet Information Server (IIS). ASP.net is different from ASP in two major ways: it supports code written in compiled languages like C++, Visual Basic, and Perl, and, it features server controls that can separate the code from the content, allowing WYSIWYG editing of pages.
3. CDONTS – CDONTS stands for \'Collaboration Data Objects for Windows NT Server\' and it\'s a Messaging Component comes along with Windows NT/2000. A windows hosting plan without this is incomplete. This provides you the easiest solution for your messaging through your website ASP pages, provided you have SMTP support.
4. DATABASES – Microsoft Access 2000 Database is supported by all the windows hosting plans. This will do if you are a starter. For experienced campaigners, MS-Sql is a must have. This is an advanced feature and most of the hosting companies charge extra. The control for the Databases must be provided in the Control Panel.
5. DATABASE Connection – DSN or DSNless Connections, whatever, please check if the host has provided the option in the Control Panel to create manage DSNs. (Data Source Name). If DSNs are NOT allowed, ask for the Connection String for DSNless connections.
6. ASP Components – Apart from the default components, there are loads of third party software. Check the list of such components that the host provides. ASP Upload, ASP Image, Dundas Mailer, ASPjpeg, ASP Encrypt are few popular components. At times you may require to have your own components (DLLs) installed. This is provided by most of the hosts, but after the DLL undergoes a complete test in the server environment. This does not come free.
7. PHP & Cold fusion – Cold Fusion is a server-side scripting language web development tool. It uses HTML-like tags called CFML to enable back-end ODBC database connectivity as well as data manipulation and validation within webpages..
8. Control Panel – This is the nucleus of your website. Control Panel, popularly known as CP, you can literally do anything. The moment you signup for a Hosting Pack, you must be provided with a CP to manage your web space.
9. POP3 email Ids & Aliases – firstname.lastname@example.org is an example POP3 ID. You must be provided with ample of POP3 email ids and it depends on the Package size.
10. FTP Account – This is where you upload your files, delete them, and update them. This again comes along with the CP.
11. Backup – Most of the Hosts take Automated Backups. But users do not take much care on this while choosing the Hosting Pack. This feature is as essential.
12. Web Statistics – Analysis of your website visitors plays a key role in the success of your website. Your website has been launched and you get NIL Visits or More than 100 Visits per day.
13. Bandwidth – Choose the Hosting Plan that gives enough Bandwidth for your website. Even though you cannot judge at the beginning, as time progresses, you can easily deduct the Bandwidth required.
14. Webmail, SMTP & SPAM – Email becomes key part in your life once you launch the website. Check if the Hosts provide with WEBMAIL to check your mails thru a web based interface using Squirrel mail or Horde. Corporate Users prefer downloading mails thru Email Clients such as Eudora or Outlook Express.
15. IP – If your website prefers SSL Support as time grows, makes sure you get a DEDICATED IP. Most of the websites are hosted on shared IPs. Ask your Hosting Provider about the extra charges involved in getting a dedicated IP and SSL Support.