What Is Website Hosting? – A Beginner’s Guide

what is website hosting?

Let’s talk about hosting and what it means for website owners. In my previous post, I talked about domains and what they are. I briefly talked about hosting, but promised another post for that. So here it is!

Hosting, websites, and domain names all go hand in hand. You need all three together in order to have an online presence for your business.

Think of it this way: the domain name is your phone number, the website is your phone, and the hosting is your service provider. They all go hand in hand. One is useless without the other two.

This is where my websites are hosted if you’d like to take a peek.

 

Web Hosting Definition

This is what Techopedia has to say:

“A Web host is an organization that sells or leases memory space on its servers. Web hosting is typically done in a data center, which provides services to clients that enable them to publish websites on the Internet. A Web host can also provide data center space and an Internet connection for servers owned by others. The service provided by a Web host is called Web hosting.”

In other words, it’s a service you need, to publish your website on the internet. These different web hosting companies all have similar technologies that allow your website to be seen online.

When an individual wants to view your website, they type your domain name in their browser. Their computer then connects to the server you chose to host your website. Your website “files” are then delivered to them for viewing.

what is website domain and hosting
Or in the phone analogy, you type the phone number into the phone, and the service provider (Telus, etc.) allows you to connect with the person you are calling.

 

Oops, Wrong Number…

Have you ever seen the “404” error come up in your search? That means the webpage you were looking for has either been moved or no longer exists on that host server.

So though the message is implying it’s your fault and you should have known it moved, haha, it’s because there was no “redirect” set up to direct you to the new URL address.

what is website hosting service - 404
As a website owner, this is something to always consider. Don’t just delete or move a page.

It reflects poorly on you if your visitor is handed a “404” message.

It’s like getting a wrong number with your phone call. (Only you don’t hear a strange voice on the other end.)

If you need to remove something, then please set up a redirect to maintain your good standing.

 

What Do Web Hosting Companies Do Exactly?

Your website is made up of various types of files and images etc. All these things need to be put in a folder on a computer that’s connected to the internet.

This computer is what we call a “server”. It serves up our website files when someone wants to view it.

what is web hosting and how does it work
When you pay a company to put your file onto their servers, you are paying for “hosting”.

Companies that host websites will have from one to many thousands of computers run their hosting software.

Most websites you see on the internet are located on a “shared” host, which will house several hundred websites.

Large websites, like apple.com for instance, will have their own “dedicated” host. Because they have huge amounts of traffic, they need many computers to host just one website.

 

Let’s Talk About Types Of Web Hosting

Shared Web Hosting

This is the most common type of business website hosting. The service provides one server, shared among many customers.

Think of shared hosting as living in an apartment building. You’re sharing your space with many neighbours, and possibly barking dogs and wild parties.

web hosting comparison for shared hosting

The advantages are:

  • much cheaper monthly price
  • the hosting company takes care of all the maintenance and security updates
  • many services offer a free domain and website builder

The disadvantages are:

  • sharing resources with others may mean poor performance of your website if one business gets busy with high traffic (more bandwidth for them means less for you).
  • everyone on that server shares one IP address. If one of the businesses is involved in illegal activity, adult material, or black-hat SEO (people not obeying search engine guidelines), Google’s displeasure is reflected on everyone.
  • even though they may say “unlimited storage”, you can’t actually surpass your “fair use” storage limit. Though it’s not a problem for most of us, if you plan on having a huge site with thousands of files, you may get a stern talking to.

Some popular companies include:

Dedicated Hosting

This is the granddaddy of hosting. You get your own server, dedicated to you and only you.

Think of dedicated hosting as living in your own mansion. No neighbours, no dogs and no parties (unless you invite them yourself, haha).

web hosting definition of dedicated hosting

The advantages are:

  • full flexibility and customization of both the hardware and software you choose, to meet the needs of your business website.
  • you’re guaranteed the desired performance for your website because you’re not sharing with your server resources with anyone else.

The disadvantages are:

  • more expensive because you’re not sharing the cost with others.
  • you need the technical knowledge to manage and configure your server. Though, I’m sure this can be supplied at an additional cost….of course.

Some popular companies include:

  • Liquid Web
  • InMotion
  • Bluehost

Cloud Hosting or VPS (Virtual Private Servers)

This is where shared hosting and dedicated hosting meet in the middle. It’s become extremely popular over the last few years as it offers the best of both worlds.

Cloud servers still use physical hardware down here on earth but are spread out over more than one server. Yet each cloud server has it’s own dedicated resources, almost like a dedicated server. (Have I said “server” enough yet…?)

Think of cloud hosting as you living in the penthouse suite with your own private elevator. The building management is there to help you when needed, but you don’t ever have to see or hear your neighbours.

best website hosting

The advantages are:

  • greatly reduced downtime, because your website is relying on more than one server at a time.
  • if one server slows due to increased traffic, another server provides what’s needed for optimum speed.
  • even though you are sharing servers with others, you receive dedicated resources like bandwidth (site speed and efficiency), and memory (storage capabilities).

The disadvantages are:

  • the “virtualization” software may give you more freedom to design your server the way you want it but requires more technical knowledge.
  • the cost is still too high for small businesses to manage.

Some popular companies include:

  • Cloudways
  • Bytemark Cloud
  • DigitalOcean

Managed WordPress Hosting

This is a specific form of shared hosting, created for WordPress site owners only.

This server is configured so that your WordPress website comes with pre-installed plugins for things like “caching” and “security”.

It’s a highly optimized platform so that your site loads much faster, and has fewer problems.

They will also come with pre-designed WordPress themes, drag and drop page builders, and developer tools.

Think of this as a gated community with all the perks of a security guard at the gate, pre-designed homes, and a super-fast mono-rail.

google web hosting is WordPress hosting

The advantages are:

  • This has a low cost, much like the regular shared hosting plans.
  • It’s beginner-friendly in that it’s a one-click installation to set up your website.
  • It’s a powerful server yet it is easy to customize your site.
  • You have a choice from thousands of themes and even more plugins.
  • It offers great performance, and any issues are resolved by a customer support team that’s trained in WordPress.

The disadvantages are:

  • These servers are only for WordPress sites!

Some popular companies include:

Here’s a quick video, and I had to giggle when I watched it.  He used a similar analogy to mine..:)

He doesn’t mention WordPress hosting though, which is my preferred server.

 

Important Features To Look For

No matter the type of hosting, or who you choose to do business with, it’s important for you to consider these factors:

Server Reliability

You want to ensure little or no downtime, and adequate server speed.

Weak servers who have unstable network connections can cause our site to be offline.  This not only hurts your sales but hurts your ranking on search engines as well.

There are many options out there that quote 99.5% upload time.  The more reputable servers are very reliable.  If anyone quotes below 99%, you should look elsewhere.

what is website hosting servicesTechnical Support

You want responsive 24/7 customer support.  And preferably with “live” support.  There’s nothing better than chatting with a real person, at any time of day or night.

Find out if their support is in-house.  They have a much better idea of their company’s operations than an outsourced customer support service.

And it never hurts to check out the reviews to ensure that the server clientele is happy.

SSL Certificate

The SSL certificate is used to keep sensitive information secure and encrypted so that only the intended recipient can read it.

You’ll need this added security for any e-commerce site, though in this day and age, it’s a good idea for everyone.

My laptop is set to block my access to any unsecured site, even if it’s legitimate.

Site backupweb hosting reviews should have backups

In today’s world of hackers, you want the security of a backed-up site.  Threats like ransomware are getting more common, and they can permanently damage your site.

Or your server can have a hard disk failure, which could lose your information.

Always look for a host that offers regular web data backup.  And. remember, you can back your site up yourself on your own separate hard drive.  Can’t ever be too careful!!

Email Account

Any self-respecting business has it’s own email accounts!

An email like “yourname@yourdomainname.com looks so much more professional than “joeblo@hotmail.com”.

So make sure your server provides you with email hosting for your website’s primary email.  You can then link it to your personal email if you wish.

Costs of Upgrades

As your site grows, you will need added features.  Or you may be required to go to a VPS or dedicated hosting plan.

These plans are more expensive if you’ve started out with a shared hosting plan, so be sure to find out any additional costs for future changes.

Dbest website hosting for small businessomain’s Registration & Website Builder

Why not look for the convenience of having everything done in one place?

Though most hosting services offer their own domain registry service, there are still those who don’t!

On the flip side, if you have many domains and many websites, you may prefer to keep them all separate, which is ok too.  All your domains with one registrar and websites with on one hosting service.

Additional Domains

Will they allow you to run multiple sites on one account?  As your business grows, you may need additional domains or subdomains for expansion.

Be sure to check out the different packages each server offers.  Being able to have multiple sites on one account can save you a lot of headaches.

This is why I like my choice.  I can have up to 50 domains, either on active websites, or parked for future use.  (see below…)

inexpensive web hosting may not transferDomain Transfer

Can you move any other domains or websites over to them, easily and efficiently?

There are some services where you might be looking at a couple days of downtime for your business.  Ouch!

And you may want to investigate any additional charges to do so.

Registration Fees

Always read the fine print.

There’s nothing more frustrating than signing a year’s lease because of that amazing introductory price, only to find out your second year is double or triple the price.

Your server will offer you an “auto renew” feature, which is awsome.  But it’s good to be prepared for that next annual bill!

web hosting account limitations

Account Limitations

Ok, now I’m no computer programmer, and couldn’t begin to explain such things as…

“use of excessive amounts of CPU to run computationally intensive and scripts exceeding two seconds”, but….

…things like this can be violations of your contract and could result in extra charges or closing down your account.

Always make sure they have written and clear terms.  Avoid any server who says decisions are “at their discretion”.

Don’t forget, you get what you pay for.

I know it’s important to find something that is affordable, but if you look forward to growing your site in the future, it’s best to look for a provider that has all the things you may need.

 

My Recommendation

There are many hosting companies online, some good, some not so good. The better ones will offer you more reliability, and the important features listed above.

You need to take the time to sit and compare all their features before deciding who will suit you the best.

Or… I could save you all that time and show you the best server for web hosting. They offer all the above and so much more for a very reasonable price.

Not only do they register domains, build websites, and host up to 50 websites for the same price, they provide everything you need to show you how to get your business up and running with the proper tools and training.

You can also start with a free membership, which gives you 2 free websites to start your online businesses.

If you’re interested, please click on the button below to read all about it. And don’t forget, I’ll be there to help you along the way.

 

my siterubix link button

 

I hope this post gave you all the hosting information you needed to choose the right hosting for our business.

Do you have a domain or website yet?  Let me know in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you.

And if you know someone looking for a new hosting company, please share this post with them.

Your friend,

Suzanne

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