Have you ever wondered how websites work or where they come from? How they are always there when you need them? What happens when you can’t connect to your favorite site? Well, it is all thanks to web hosting companies. It is possible to host a website on your personal computer at home, but it may lack the resources needed to keep the site up and running. You will never be able to turn off your PC (otherwise your site won’t be reachable). This is where Web Hosting Companies come in handy.
What is Web Hosting?
Web Hosting companies specialize in hosting your content so that you don’t have to. They have multiple servers in multiple locations so that the websites hosted on them can be running at all times. The gist of it is, you upload your content to the web hosts and anyone that visits your site will be connecting to their servers.
There are many different levels of hosting and it can get confusing if you don’t know much about it. Don’t panic! This is what we’re here to teach you today. You’re going to learn the differences in levels of web hosting, pricing, and how to you can get started on your own hosting adventure.
Choosing a Web Host
First things first, you’ll have to choose a web host provider. There are so many web hosting companies out there and you’re going to drive yourself crazy trying to choose one. Unless you are a tech guru and know exactly what you need, you should just keep it simple. Every host out there is going to have a million features and it might look overwhelming. Don’t worry about this, because if you’re just starting out you won’t even be using half of them until you’re ready.
Forget about all of that, and start with your budget. Decide what amount you’re comfortable spending a month for web hosting and find a web host that fits that need. Monthly packages can be anywhere from $1/month to $100+/month. The cheapest plans are usually Shared Hosting and the most costly plans are Dedicated Servers.
Start small and get comfortable with everything first. You can always upgrade plans whenever you want (if the web host allows this). No matter how much storage space you think you’ll need, you will probably only use a fraction of that. We offer a free 30 day trial on our Shared Hosting plans that you can check out Here.
The most important thing for a website to be successful is up time. If someone wants to visit your site, and the site happens to be down, they will likely never return. Most companies state that they have a 99.9% uptime. That is the standard that you should hold them to. Do not compromise on this whatsoever and you’ll be ahead of the game.
When a server goes down, its bad news. Servers can go down for a number of reasons including: power outages, natural disasters, hardware failure, and even software failure. Luckily for you, web hosts usually have backups for everything. They have multiple backup generators, backup hardware, backup files and multiple locations.
Server location can also be an aspect that can help you choose the right host. If you live on the east coast, chances are most of your visitors will be from the east coast. You’ll definitely want to make sure your Web Host has servers in that area. It will make for a much more pleasurable user experience if you can reduce the page load times. Of course, this is done by simply having a server in that area.
Common server locations on the east coast include New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, and Florida. If you are located on the east coast, a server in any of these locations would be ideal.
You may have noticed that if you live in the United States and visit a website located in another country, the load times take a little bit longer. This is not the only factor that affects page load times; there are many! Internet connection speeds, server hardware, web page caching, and number of users are all things that can affect a website. We will get more into this later.
Server Space and Bandwidth
If you’re just starting out, you probably don’t even need to worry about this. Most companies will offer unlimited storage space and unlimited bandwidth depending on the plan you choose. This is common with most Shared Hosting plans. The average website uses a very little amount of storage and bandwidth that it is not a problem for hosts to give out unlimited plans.
Note: If you are in the top percentage of customers truly utilizing these unlimited plans, most companies will ask that you upgrade your plan.
This one is huge. There will definitely be a time where you will need some support from your web host. You want them to be available to you as much as possible. They should be able to answer any and all of your questions regarding their business. You are their client so they should want to help you out in any way they can.
Large corporations have a very generic help center and support team and will have no problem answering common questions. Smaller hosts may not be readily available at all times, but will usually get back to you within 24-48 hours. Ideally you want to find a host that is right in the middle. You want them to provide you with an enjoyable, personalized experience in a reasonable amount of time.
Web Host Wrap up
Taking all of these points into consideration will definitely help you choose a host that is right for you. You won’t truly know until you try it out for yourself. Many web hosts have low cost monthly plans available. This is great because you get to test out their product without any commitment. If you decide you want to go with another host, you can easily transfer your cPanel files. Speak to a support representative first and confirm this before you make the switch.
Choosing Your Hosting Plan
Here we will go over each type of hosting plan for you to choose from. There are 4 types of web hosting plans. Shared Hosting, Reseller Hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting, and Dedicated Server Hosting.
This is the most common type of web hosting. Users are bunched together all on one server and that server hosts all of their websites. There could be anywhere from 100 users or thousands of users on one server. This also means that the servers resources are also being shared.
The storage space, RAM, and processor are all being used by everyone on the shared server, but only as needed. If one site is getting a ton of traffic and other sites are not, the server will send most of its resources to accommodate the traffic. You will only run in to real problems when every site that is on the server is experiencing increased traffic flow at the same time and the servers resources are not able to handle it.
Reseller hosting is essentially re-selling the hosting that you purchased. You receive special tools that enable you to add your own users and sell them a portion of your hosting. This is great for web designers, entrepreneurs, or anyone that wants to provide hosting services for their friends, family, or clients.
For instance, lets say you purchase a plan with 100 GB of storage, 2 CPU cores, and 1000 GB of bandwidth transfer. You can reallocate these resources into 10 blocks of 10 GB storage each. You can charge your customers whatever you like since you are the one reselling the hosting. Reseller hosting is by far the easiest way to get started with your own hosting business and/or host your clients websites that you’ve built for them.
VPS (Virtual Private Server)
Virtual Private Servers are the next step up in the web hosting hierarchy. These have their own dedicated resources, so you don’t have to worry about sharing with anyone else. A VPS is ideal for websites that regularly get a lot of traffic and need the resources to handle it. They typically come with Linux or Windows operating systems and you usually get full root access. The server is yours to do whatever you want with.
It is also great for developers because they have so much more control and access permissions. You won’t have to worry about hosting your own server stack locally.
These packages are priced a little higher than shared and reseller hosting packages, but you absolutely get what you pay for.
Welcome to the top of the mountain. Dedicated server hosting is the last stop on the hosting train. It is exactly what it sounds like, your very own physical server. A dedicated server is used for the most popular of websites and can handle pretty much anything you throw at it (depending on the server resources, of course).
Install any software you like or do literally anything you would do with a computer that you have at home. The best part is you don’t have to worry about it using up your electricity or worry about any of the technical things. It’s all taken care of for you at the server center.
Hosting Plan Wrap Up
The easiest way to put this all together would be to think about it in stages. Stage 1 would be Shared Hosting: a popular choice for most website owners. Stage 2 is for Reseller Hosting: a great choice for aspiring web hosts and/or web developers. VPS is Stage 3: a great option for experienced web developers and popular websites requiring dedicated resources. And lastly, Stage 4, Dedicated Servers: unlimited control, power, the ultimate server experience.
Popular Hosting Software
Most hosting plans come with standard software packages. These were created so that individuals with no coding experience would be able to get by. There are plenty of frameworks, plugins, themes, and apps that will help you with your hosting/web developing journey.
cPanel (Short for control panel) is one of the most popular hosting platforms on the market. Whether you have your own hosting business, host your own servers, or manage your own website, cPanel is incredibly easy to use. As a website user, you will be able to manage your email accounts, storage files, install apps, databases, domains, metrics… the list goes on and on. You can learn more about cPanel and the features offered Here!
By far the most used content management system today is WordPress. The functionality is unbelievable and allows the most novice of users to create fully functioning websites. There are tons of plugins available that do pretty much anything you can think of, so if you don’t feel like coding something yourself, no problem! Just download a plugin, install it, and move on to the next thing.
Themes can also be downloaded to give your site a unique appearance. You can download premade themes and just fill in the information, or you can customize it as much or as little as you like. The possibilities are truly endless and you can really unleash your creative side with everything WordPress has to offer.
Bringing It All Together
So I think its about time to wrap this up. We’ve gone over what web hosting is, how to choose a web host, different types of web hosting, and software related to web hosting and development. Of course, if you have any questions or want to see a guide from us, let us know! You can Contact Us for any requests or visit our Blog to check out some of the guides we have out already.