In this ultimate guide, you will be introduced to the exciting world of web hosting and learn the important things you need to know about how an idea grows into a website and arrives on the internet for everyone to see.
Let’s dig in…
What is Web Hosting?
A website is made up of different files and folders. The standard content of a website folder could be text files, image files, CSS files, code files and even video files. However, before all these files can be offered to visitors, it has to be stored on a computer connected to the internet. This computer is known as a web server.
Web hosting is the process involved in storing your websites files on a web server. It can also refer to the company that sells web servers for people to store or host their website files.
After you have bought web hosting and uploaded your website files, you will need to associate your website with a domain name before visitors can access it.
From the brief explanation above, you can see that web hosting is not exactly rocket science. It is just like buying or renting a house and moving in, but instead of moving your furniture and clothes, you move your website files in, and, now that you have a house (web hosting) and an address (domain name), people can come visit.
There are thousands of companies that sell web hosting, and, like any other company, you will find some are more reliable than others. However, it is advisable to buy web hosting from a provider close to where your target customers are. For instance, if the goal of your website is to provide content for visitors from New Zealand, buying web hosting services and SEO from Freeparking’s partners will help provide better website performance for your local users.
The Different Types of Hosting
Still using our analogy of using a house to represent web hosting, just as houses come in different styles, sizes and configurations, so does web hosting. This section covers the most popular web hosting types and why each one is unique.
Shared hosting: Shared hosting is a type of hosting where more than one website is hosted on a web server. With this system of hosting, you can have as many as hundreds of websites sharing the same storage and server resources. Shared hosting is the cheapest of all the hosting types available, because the cost of hosting is shared by all the websites on the server. However, this sharing system also makes it unsuitable for high-performance websites.
Virtual Private Servers (VPS): A virtual private server, or VPS, is one step above shared hosting. It is also one web server, but it’s divided into multiple virtual servers. With VPS hosting, each website is hosted on an individual virtual server, although these virtual servers are all on one web server. VPS emulates a dedicated server environment without the accompanying high cost. VPS is ideal for websites that require extra server resources, privacy and more storage. Because of the virtual server environment, websites on a VPS platform enjoy better performance.
Dedicated hosting: Dedicated hosting is very different from shared hosting and VPS. With dedicated hosting, your website is the only site on the server and you don’t share space or server resources with anyone, you also don’t share the cost with anyone. For this reason, dedicated hosting is very reliable, which makes it ideal for high-performance websites or websites used by large corporations.
Cloud hosting: Cloud hosting, despite being some years old, is still regarded as the new kid on the block. When you host your website using cloud technology, your website receives server resources from a series of networked servers located in different places. The beauty of this system is that you site can never go down for any reason. This is because, should one server fail, another one will immediately take its place. Cloud hosting has gotten so popular in recent years that it has become the preferred hosting choice for businesses all over the world.
It is no surprise that forward-thinking small businesses in New Zealand are increasingly switching over to cloud infrastructure for their hosting needs. Because of the huge amount of resources coming from the networked servers, cloud hosting allows for an unusually large amount of traffic, making it ideal for both low-performance and high-performance websites.
How to Choose the Right Web Hosting
If you go on Google and type in web hosting providers, you will be faced with a deluge of options. However, not all the web hosting providers found on Google results pages can be trusted. There are several important factors you need to keep in consideration when choosing a web hosting provider, as the success or failure of your website can be determined by your choice.
Below are a few tips that will come in handy in your search for reliable web hosting.
- Speed and performance: One of the most important considerations to make when buying web hosting is speed and performance. Poor web hosting can adversely affect the speed and performance of your website, and this will cause you to lose visitors. These days, if your website cannot return web pages in less than 4 seconds, you stand the risk of losing both old and potential visitors/customers.
- Storage and bandwidth: When you start out with your website, you will not need too much storage space, but as your website grows, you will need more space and bandwidth. Some web hosting companies have a cap on the amount of storage space and monthly bandwidth they allocate to websites and this can affect the performance of your site during peak periods. Check to see that your web host provides enough storage and bandwidth to accommodate your website needs.
- Customer support: No matter the technical skills you have, there are days when you will encounter problems with your website that you cannot resolve on your own. For this reason, you need web hosting that has dedicated customer/ technical support. The best providers offer phone, email, live chat and ticketing services. Going for a web host with 24/7 customer support is ideal if you are planning for website success.
- Scalability options: Because it is a given that your website will grow, you need a web hosting provider that is able to scale your services. If your web hosting provider does not offer scalability options, you may need to migrate to a different server and provider when you outgrow their services, and this might affect your website, causing you to lose customers and page rankings.
- Terms of service: The terms of service, or TOS, are an important document where you will find the terms that govern your use of the provider’s web hosting service. The information contained in this document should be clear and precise, as it will help you understand what is expected of you as a customer. Do not hesitate to ask for clarification on any part you don’t understand.
- Security and backup: The security of your website is paramount. You need a web hosting company that provides adequate security for your website and visitors. Website security is one thing that cannot be compromised when selecting a web hosting company. Most web hosting providers also include regular backups as part of their services. It is a good idea to look for a web host that offers some form of backup for your website.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Web Hosting
First time website owners, and even experienced users, can get carried away by the idea of a new website and make mistakes when choosing web hosting. These mistakes can have far-reaching consequences on the success of your website. Here are some common mistakes you would do well to avoid when choosing web hosting.
- Using free web hosting
- Not reading hosting reviews
- Not reading the TOS
- Going for too-good-to-be-true offers
- Buying the wrong hosting plan
- Buying web hosting based on price
- Trusting web hosting with only positive reviews
- Trusting the uptime guarantee
- Paying for services you don’t need
- Not doing due diligence
We have arrived the end of this beginner’s guide to web hosting; we hope you found this article useful and that it will help you in your search for the right web hosting.