What is web hosting 2017
Whether you are a small specialist consultancy or an internet retailer every business needs a web presence and that means a website. Your website will need a place to live on the internet and that is provided by your web host. This is one of three things you will need to put your web site on line.
This is the timeline for these three things:
- An internet domain - a registered name for your website
- Web Hosting - a place for your website to live on the internet
- An installation of a content management system - WordPress
This post will help you understand web hosting, the place for website to live on the internet.
Building an attractive and professional website need not be expensive
Space for your website to live on the internet - provided by your host
We will focus in simple terms on what hosting is and how it relates to your website. In addition I will give some idea of costs and how to keep them low.
Some of this may be unfamiliar to you so I will try to clarify things as we go along.
What is web hosting
Web hosting is the provision of space by a specialist hosting company for your website to live on the internet.
Hosting companies provide servers (clever boxes) that are connected to the internet and allow organisations such as yours to build websites and provide content for their visitors.
Content things such as information, services or products or whatever you want your visitors to see.
Types of hosting
All good hosting companies offer 3 types of hosting for your website:
- Shared hosting (lowest cost) - Many sites share a common server and operating system. This is cheapest type of hosting and is ideal for getting you up and running.
- VPS - Virtual Private Server (medium cost) - Your site(s) reside on a private partition of a single server. Each partition has its own operating system and resources are not shared with other sites on the same server. This generally provides for a better and smoother service but may require more interaction by you.
- Dedicated Server (higher cost) - All of Your sites reside on their own physical server with its own operating system. This will involve more interaction with you but provides the best service for large sites with a lot of traffic
Three of the best and most respected hosting companies are:
But there are many more excellent hosting companies and so hosting services always remain competitive.
I include these purely as examples. Make a short list of your potential choices and set aside a little time to examine which best fits your requirement.
Currently I am using two of these hosts for my sites and have done for many years.
My main host is Wealthy Affiliate who are somewhat different from a standard hosting companies in that they are also a business community providing full training on all aspects of building an online business. Wealthy affiliate will take you from being a complete novice to becoming a professional internet business entrepreneur.
Good hosting companies are reliable and offer a full set of features. They should also provide great uptime, security and support
What should a host offer?
Your host should provide at a minimum:
- Excellent uptime - The percentage of total time that your hosts servers remain online and useable
- 24/7 Support - You should be able to get help and support from your host via a number of means such as telephone, email, chat etc
- All the tools features and facilities to develop and maintain your web business
- Domain name registration service
- email & forwarding
- Domain transfer tools
Help in evaluating your needs can be had by viewing this article from the experts at PCMAG UK
Select a well established and reputable hosting company to be sure of great service and support
It's worth spending a little time choosing your host as you may well have a long term relationship with them. I have been with one of my hosts for approaching ten years now, in that time I have seen them become more user friendly and support has improved immensely. I recommend using one of the major companies so you can be sure of a reliable and well designed service with lots of facilities.
Your host is your friend. Good ones will support you with excellent support and advice.
What is a web hosting package?
Web hosting companies bundle up products to suit various customers not all of whom have the same (or even similar) requirements. You can imagine that the needs of a high volume sales site are quite different from a hobby blog.
There may seem a bewildering array of available packages each with it's own range of features and facilities many of which could pay extra for but it's really a case of deciding which matches your needs
So what do you actually need and what can you do without?
For your website to be accessible on the internet it not only needs webspace a range of functions and tools. Even the cheapest of packages provide all you need to get up and rolling with an effective and attractive website. Two of my sites remain on the same package I started with several years ago. Admittedly they are not high volume or high traffic sites and neither contains a shop but you get the picture.
Start small with a reputable and reliable host
After spending some time developing your site you may wish to improve the facilities on or change direction altogether. So it is better to build in some flexibility from the start.
Three things that will help with this are:
- Make sure there is an upgrade path
Your host should allow you to change/upgrade your package to one that is more suitable to your needs. Hosts will be very happy to allow an upgrade to a more expensive package. This is why I stress that you should start with the least inexpensive solution that fits your needs.
- Make sure there is a migration path
In the unlikely event that your host cannot deliver the service you require you may need to change to another one. Migration to a new host used to be a real pain but these days not so much. Of course hosts are very happy for you to migrate into their company and even migrating out is not as difficult as it used to be. Check the reviews of your host to see if there could be problems. Should you have difficulty contact me and I will check this for you.
- Backing up
Automatic backups are essential so that you don't lose any content. I recommend backing up to a cloud service like dropbox so the you are in total control of all your data.
It is worth pointing out the that migration is not a totally painless process and it will mean at least some disruption to your service. Redirecting your domain name to a new host has an inbuilt delay. Contact support at your new hosting company and they will help if needed or if you are not getting anywhere contact me and I will try to help.
Choosing a hosting package is the first step in building your internet presence
Choosing the package that is right for you
Web hosting companies offer a wide range of packages to host your website on the internet. They provide all the services, tools and facilities you will need to create and maintain your website. You will need to pay for package usually on a monthly basis, many come with excellent introductory offers so be alert for the best deals.
What should be included in my package?
Even the lowest priced package will offer all that is needed to get your site up and running. Finding a suitable package that suits your needs and fits your budget is not a problem but check out the review sites to see if the hosting company is reliable and provides good technical support.
Typically a good web hosting package will offer:
- Unlimited web space
- Unlimited websites
- secure e-mail
- Large amount of storage for your web sites (600 Gb +)
- Installation tool for content management systems such as WordPress
- SSL certificates, necessary if you will be selling items on your website should be available
- You may also be able to get a free domain name. This will probably be free for a year after which time you will revert to the normal rate.
When it comes time to upgrade (if ever)
As your business grows you may want to upgrade your package or add some premium features. Naturally your hosting company will be very happy to help with this. All of the best companies will inform you of what is available and will not push too hard to buy extras. After all they want you as a long term customer and would not want to alienate you. But check your bill regularly and challenge anything you don't feel is correct
In ten years I have not yet needed to buy any premium features from my hosting companies.
Upgrading is a seamless process and all your content will be protected. All that is needed is inform your hosting company which package you would like to upgrade to, this can usually be done via your hosting control panel.
What does a package cost?
The cost of hosting packages varies tremendously depending on your requirements but even at the low end of the price range packages have all the features and facilities to build a very capable and attractive website. Obviously hosting companies would like you to add to your basic package or move up to a more expensive one but I would advise against this until you have your site up and working and preferably drawing in some traffic. Should you need to move up to a more comprehensive package with special facilities you will find your transition a smooth one but be prepared for a little down time.
Packages are very reasonably priced, but resist the temptation to buy add ons unless you need them
There are a large number of packages available so I have concentrated on those that would be suitable for starting a new business. Not necessarily the cheapest but certainly very capable for your first business website.
Cost examples of popular plans:
United Kingdom (all prices are excluding VAT) as at March 2017
|Hosting company||Package name||Offer price||Normal price||Note|
|1&1||1&1 Pro||£6.99||£9.99||advanced package|
|Siteground||GOGEEK||£7.95||£19.95||very advanced package|
|Hosting company||Package name||Offer price||Normal price||Note|
|Hostgator||Business||$5.95||$14.90 *||advanced package|
|A2 Hosting||Swift||$4.95 (C)||$9.99||capable|
|A2 Hosting||Turbo||$9.31 (C)||$18.99||very advanced package|
(C) with coupon
Please be aware that after the first year your package will revert to the full annual cost. In addition any free domain may become chargeable.
Free domains are OK but if you want to be in full control buy a domain as you will probably get a better deal when costed over several years.
- Choose a hosting company that has been in business for several years and has a great reputation
- When you have shortlisted your choices check out reviews from recognised review sites like Techradar
- Choose an inexpensive package that suits your requirements. If you need to upgrade you can do it later
- Choose a host that offers domain names for sale. This will remove the need to redirect your domain name to your web host and the delay that might incur
If you have any concerns contact me and I will try to help
Example costs of hosting packages
500 Mysql databases