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I shall be concentrating on the 'free' options. I say 'free' like that because most of them have some resriction or other that might influence your choice of host for your site.
The one this site is hosted with, freeservers, is free - and has some powerful tools for building, maintaining and enhancing your site - but puts an advertising banner at the top of every page. This slows download times and I have no control over the adverts displayed - although I've no particular quibbles with any of them it might be a big deal to some. There is a paying option to remove the banners but I'm OK with it for now - cheapskate! :)
Others might rely on you dialling up from a particular account to access your files - again, not necesarily a problem except that I work on this site both from home and at work - I started it to go along with my evening-class teaching of website development - and at work we're on a network that doesn't allow for dialup internet accounts.
These are probably the two main disadvantages of going down the 'free' route - advertising and dialup restrictions - but needn't be a barrier if you're prepared to accept them. Of more concern are the hosts that have very slow servers or lots of 'downtime'.
The thing to do really is not to rush into a decision straight away just because you're desperate to get your site live. Search for 'free web hosting' or variations along those lines in your search engine of choice or check out the links on my links page, shop around, read the fine-print, know what restrictions you're agreeing to, check out other sites hosted by that provider - they usually provide a few example links - and see what you think of it all.
When you've decided you need to check with the host provider exactly how you're going to get your site up on their server. They all have their differences but you will usually need to use an FTP [file transfer protocol] program to do the biz. The one I use at the moment is AceFTP 1 - available free from Visicom Media. It integrates well with the HTML editor I use and is very simple to use.
They all, however, have some similarities in that you will need to input details into the program such as the host address, host folder [available from your host provider] your user ID or user name and password [chosen when you signed up for the service], and the location of the files on your hard drive. You then get the program to connect to the internet and then, with all the modern FTP programs it's just like drag and dropping files in Windows Explorer or My Computer.
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