For a total beginner looking to launch a website, knowing where to begin can be very confusing. People new to the process of launching a website usually find the most challenging part to be web hosting; deciding on a package, understanding the basic terminology, knowing what a VPS is, making a choice to go with shared hosting or not, or whether or not to get a dedicated server and much more. All these can make web hosting appear daunting, hence the need for a guide like this.
Web hosting services involve paying a web hosting company for the use of their servers to publish a website; you will usually be charged a monthly fee for the services and support provided. A web server is responsible for the existence of all the files available on a website, a web server can be likened to a computer in that it is always on and connected to the internet, and it stores websites and hosts them, hence the name web hosting.
It is possible to connect your computer to the internet and have it host webpages, but this option is not practical as a home-based server is not powerful enough to serve a wide range of users. You could also build your own servers and use them to store your website but this will be expensive and inefficient, except in the case of a big business. These reasons are why web hosting companies are required, they have and maintain large numbers of servers powerful enough to store websites for businesses and individuals and most often provide a wide range of packages for different types and sizes of businesses.
There are different types of hosting, and which one you choose is determined by what you require, so it is important to have at least a basic understanding of the various types of hosting services available:
In this situation, your website is hosted on a server the same as other sites, and you have access to the resources of the host like RAM and CPU together with other website owners whose numbers can range from hundreds to several thousands. One benefit of this method is that the cost is particularly low, but this diminishes the level of performance delivered. Most providers of shared hosting will propose you host several websites with the same package, with the benefit of them not charging extra if there is a sudden increase the number of visitors to your website.
Shared hosting is considered beginner-level hosting as it requires minimal technical knowledge.
As the name suggests, this form of hosting is designed and enhanced for the WordPress content management system. This type of hosting is the best way to get started if WordPress is how you choose to build your website. The benefit of WordPress hosting is that it costs nothing, but it restricts access to a number of features like plugins which are one of the best attributes of WordPress. Hosting on WordPress also means ads may randomly appear on your site.
However, web hosting companies such as Freeparking’s WordPress Hosting Service also offer one-click WordPress install options with premium features and hundreds of themes to choose from.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS)
This method divides a single server into several virtual servers where each customer’s website is hosted on its own dedicated server. This type of hosting is best for users that require more control at the server level but would not like to spend so much on a dedicated server; this also means the cost is lower because the server is being shared. Also, since each VPS has guaranteed resources, it provides more power than standard share hosting. The limited ability of the server to handle an increase in traffic and the chance of the performance of your site being affected by the activities of the different sites on the server has proven to be a big disadvantage of this method.
- Dedicated Server
This method offers complete control over the server hosting your website, this means you are entirely and exclusively renting that server with your website being the only one hosted on it. This option is the most expensive and most powerful and is best suited for websites with high traffic or sites that require a lot of resources.
A dedicated server makes performance faster, as all the resources of the server are devoted to just one website, this also makes it very secure. A dedicated server is an option that comes at an incredibly high cost and this is its major disadvantage.
This type of hosting provides more power than standard shared hosting but without the complication of a dedicated server. Business hosting provides the power and resources of your own private server without requiring the services of an experienced administrator. This method is best for creating a large complex website without getting bogged down by the tech knowledge required to run a dedicated server.
Choosing the Right Hosting Package
After learning about the several hosting options and how they work, there are still other factors to be considered before making your choice and they include:
Storage Space and Bandwidth
Before selecting an option, you should make sure you know the storage capabilities each has to offer, make sure your provider delivers enough storage space that allows you to create the site you want and enough bandwidth to accommodate any increase in traffic.
How many resources your site will require will also determine which option you choose. Running an ecommerce website on a shared server will lead to disaster, while running a small website on a dedicated server will cost a lot of money.
- Technical Support
It is important to select a server provider that is available 24/7 for support and answers to any queries.
Server Reliability and Uptime Guarantee
Having a web host provider who is always available is very important, since websites are visited by people from various time zones, so a host who is reliable both in terms of server and network connection is required. A high-class web host should provide an uptime guarantee of 99.95%, this is considered the industry standard, while a web host providing 99.99% is considered premium, anything less than 99% is unacceptable.
Essential Features and Extras
The web server provider you choose should provide essential features like file management and site stats but should also go a step further and provide features like one click installer, DNS management, ftp/sftp, as well as file manager that allows you to edit .htaccess from there. Some companies offer free domain names for a year as a bonus to encourage patronage.
Using web hosting services do not require you to be a tech genius but basic technical skills and the willingness to learn will prove useful. A good hosting option will have a control panel that allows you to install web applications. Employing a web designer to create and upload your website is an option if you are not interested in the technical aspect of website development.
Conclusively, the importance of knowing something about web hosting cannot be overemphasized if you are planning on launching a website, you should know what you need and use that to determine which method works for you and will give you great value for your money. There are experts willing to take the stress away if that is what you would prefer.