Beginner’s Web Hosting Guide
When you are buying web hosting for your site(s), it is important to take several factors into consideration. As a conscious buyer, you want the best value for your money when buying a domain name and web hosting service for your website. Before we have a look at the steps of buying web hosting, lets get familiarized with what web hosting is and why you need it.
In order for people from around the world to access your website, it needs to be available on a special computer known as a server. A server is a type of computer that stores website pages and files and is also connected to the Internet through a secure protocol. If the website you build is simply sitting in a folder on your home computer there is no way for other people to access it through a domain name or IP address.
Web hosting is essentially the storage of website files on a server, a service that is offered by a plethora of companies in the industry. However, depending on your website hosting needs, you can choose from a wide range of web hosting services. These services will vary in the features that are offered, as well as the pricing it is offered at.
There are many types of web hosting services available for website owners, with the most common one being shared web hosting. Shared hosting is essentially when a single server is used to host hundreds of websites. It is also the least expensive web hosting solution available.
A domain name is the web address for your website, much like the physical address for your home. If you think of the internet as your neighborhood, each home represents a different website. In order for users to be able to find your website, they need to have a web address – which is the domain name. If there were no domain names, users would need to use an IP address, which comes in the form 192.168.1.0 – which is also very hard to remember.
You can think of the domain name as a fancy address for your website, which should be memorable and short. The most common domain suffix is .com, while there are nearly one hundred more in the works. Website owners can purchase domains on a yearly basis for up to ten years at once. If you do not renew your domain name, you risk the chance of losing it.
If you are planning on starting a website, you would need to first think about the domain name. It is important to consider both the domain name and the domain suffix you’d like for your website. Since there are millions of domain names already taken by other websites, you would also need to check the availability of the domain name you want. Once you do find a domain name that is available to purchase, you have two options for purchasing it.
Option 1: Website owners can purchase their domain name from a domain registrar such as NameCheap or GoDaddy. If you use one single domain registrar to purchase all your domains, you will have an easier time managing all your domains.
Option 2: Alternatively, website owners can also purchase domain names from their web hosting provider, provided that they offer this service. Many web hosting companies offer a free domain registration with the purchase of their web hosting services. The one downside may be that they only provide it for free for one year and you may end up having to pay for the domain after the first year. If you own several domains, it may be easier to use one single domain registrar, rather than many.
Along with your domain name, you will be able to purchase WHOIS privacy, which keeps your private information completely safe and hidden from the public WHOIS records. Domain registrars and web hosting companies also sell SSL certificates for those who require them for their website.
The type of web hosting you will need for your website will depend on the type of website you are creating. Depending on how resource intensive your website is, you will need to find a hosting service that is sufficient. The following are a few things you will need to consider when choosing a web hosting service,
- Estimated Traffic and Site Usage
- Required Bandwidth and Disk Storage
- Required Scripts, Programming Language Platform
Before you know what type of web hosting you need, you will need to first understand the different types of web hosting plans available. Let’s have a look at the different web hosting services that you can choose from, from the most economical to the least economical solution.
Shared Web Hosting: For websites that are not resource intensive, a shared web hosting plan should be sufficient. Many web hosting companies now offer unlimited shared hosting, with unmetered bandwidth and unlimited storage. Often times, you will have the option to host as many websites as you want, on one single account. A shared hosting plan is the least expensive web hosting plan available today.
Reseller Web Hosting: A reseller web hosting plan is a type of web hosting service that lets you resell the hosting service to other website owners. If you are planning on starting your own web hosting business or looking to offset the cost of your own hosting service, you can resell hosting to your own customers. Depending on the company, you might also receive private name servers, SSL certificates and a dedicated IP address.
VPS Hosting: A virtual private server is an ideal solution for websites that are no longer suitable on shared web hosting. With most shared hosting companies, you will not be able to use more than 20% – 25% of CPU usage at a given time. If that does occur on a regular basis, you should consider choosing a web hosting solution that is able to handle higher levels of resource usage. In most cases, you will need to choose a VPS hosting plan. If you are in this situation read our VPS hosting guide for more information.
Dedicated Server Hosting: For large websites with high traffic usage, high bandwidth requirements and high storage requirements – a dedicated server is the best way to go. With this type of hosting, you will have a whole server and its entire resources for your website. Before you choose a dedicated server for your website, you need to make sure you can afford it. Depending on the type of dedicated server you have, the pricing can range from as low as $50 to several hundred per month.
If you had to choose between the various hosting services for your website, you would need to consider what you need. Many people often overpay for their hosting services because they don’t know what they need. As a smart buyer, you want to know exactly what you need before you begin looking for services.
In most cases, if you are just starting a website, you should be sufficient with a shared web hosting plan. When you are looking around for web hosting, it is important to read reviews on web hosts you are considering. In most cases, if a customer had a negative experience with a particular host, there is a good chance they would have ranted about it on a web hosting review site.
Once you know what you need in terms of web hosting, you can confidently start looking at the various offers available from different web hosting companies. Today, most companies offer unlimited shared web hosting – which can be a great deal as they let you host as many websites as you prefer.
When you are purchasing web hosting, you will need a domain name to start off. If you do not already own a domain name, you can purchase one from a domain registrar or the hosting company. Keep in mind, most hosting companies offer a free domain name for the first year, while a few offer it for the time you are with them.
With so many web hosting companies in the market today, it can be incredibly hard to choose one single host. Switching hosts very frequently can be troublesome for both you and the people that visit your website. Instead of switching hosts frequently, it will be worthwhile for you to take the time to consider a web hosting company that offers exactly what you need.
When you are choosing a web hosting company, there are several factors that you should first consider. A few of the things you want to consider include the features offered, scripts offered, pricing, uptime, service, customer support, reliability and performance.
Features & Scripts Offered: As mentioned earlier in this guide, you should know what it is you need from your web hosting company. If you need special scripts to run your website, you might want to consider a company that offers these additional scripts. Today, most web hosting services provide easy 1-click script installations of popular blogging platforms, forum scripts, eCommerce scripts, payment processing scripts, and more.
Reliability & Uptime: When selecting a hosting service, buyers need to consider the reliability of the hosting service. The uptime of the server is dependent on how long the server stays online for, without being down. Most companies offer at least 99.9%, which is the standard today. The other 0.01% is due to server maintenance that takes place on a weekly or monthly basis. If you notice that the server uptime is dropping severely, you might want to consider switching to a more reliable hosting provider.
Customer & Technical Support: With any hosting company you go with, you need to make sure that they offer around the clock support. 24/7 customer support is becoming the norm, as companies offer support through live chat, phone support and email. Whether it’s a holiday or the middle of the night, you can call your hosting company for technical support. So, when you are choosing a hosting company, you should look into reviews to see how the customer and technical support is.
Pricing: With the amount of competition in the market today, pricing for hosting services has dropped considerably over the years. You can purchase shared web hosting for as low as a few dollars per month and receive unlimited hosting. However, if you need reliable web hosting, finding the lowest price should not be the the only thing you are considering. It is important to read web hosting reviews to make sure other customers are enjoying the service.
Sample Pricing & Features From a Few Popular Web Hosts
|InMotion Hosting||WebHostingHub||A2 Hosting||BlueHost|
|Monthly Price After Discounts:||$4.19||$3.99||$3.92||$3.49|
|Disk Space:||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||100 GB|
|1 Click Script Installer||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free Domain:||Free 1st year, renews at $14.99/yr||Free 1st year, renews at $11.99/yr||Not Free, $12.95/Year||Free 1st year, renews at $14.99/yr|