I am starting a web design firm and I have a very sticky question about hosting.
For example, say I want to have password-protected directories but know how to create them. Should I purchase the hosting plan that includes "password-protected directories" as a feature, or can I purchase the plan that doesn't and create them anyway.
I have the same question for databases. What if I have a SQL or an Access database, but my provider offers MySQL?
I only ask because it seems as though the hosting company web-based control panel was created with general users in mind -- those who wouldn't know how to program a site. "Click here to add a Database".
Aren't I really just paying for bandwidth, especially on a small site? I have one site in particular that will only have 12 people using it at any given time and a 1MB database.
I think I know how this thread will go, but I just had to ask.
If you can accomplish the task yourself, and the host permits you do so, by all means save some $$s and avoid paying extra for the feature.
The key is contacting the host ahead of time to ensure they do allow you to do what you would like to have done.
You are paying for quite a bit more than bandwidth...but feature wise it's just a matter of picking the host that fits your needs best. Your payments help to cover the cost of support, hardware, sales, software, etc etc etc..
What if I have a SQL or an Access database, but my provider offers MySQL?
You cannot learn how to "create" an Access database, if the server isn't running the software to do so, which the majority of webhosts aren't, because mySQL is generally a much better choice due to costs and demand.
As for the password protected directories, just email the host and ask them if they have .htaccess support. If they do, then you can protect your directories. 95% of hosts will have this feature in their control panel, and do not list it in their description because it is pretty standard...
but yea... most hosts have passworded directories as standard, but if it is something which requires special server software, such as databases, then you cannot magic one out of thin air... Like buying a car with no stereo and saying that you know how to put the stereo on... you may well know how to, but you do not have the right setup to do so.