Everyone can become a web designer or developer thanks to website builders. Sometimes you don’t have to ask for professional assistance if you plan to launch an online platform. It is enough to choose a template, set up proper blocks, and fill them with your content. However, there are some things beginners forget about, and website hosting is often on this list.
Website hosting: basic concepts
How to host a website? You cannot answer this question in one sentence or even a paragraph. It is necessary to create website development strategy, consider some marketing aspects, and study the available offers carefully. But first things first: let’s start with some theory and hosting definition.
What is website hosting
It is the placement of website files on a server, which runs software required for processing user requests. Additionally, users get space for email accounts, databases, reserve copies, etc. Some extra features include cloud storage and website administration. Web hosting services often provide technical support.
But where is a site hosted? Hosting providers places all data your web resource contains on server equipment. After this, users can find and open the site. Server equipment is a set of computers with specific features, which provide the flawless operation of your site.
How does web hosting work?
The main task of a hosting provider is to keep your web project and make it functioning 24/7. This is why choosing a hosting is such a responsible task. If a server cannot perform the main function anymore, it can affect website performance. The most common cases are:
- your site becomes unavailable for users;
- it starts working slowly, causing poor user experience;
- search engines are not able to index it, affecting ranking positions.
The choice of a hosting provider influences the quality of website performance. It defines how much time, efforts, and investment you will need to spend on developing your project. Hosting services can be free and paid.
The primer provides free placing of web resource information on hosting provider servers. This option comes with several disadvantages. Firstly, you often have to deal with an unstable server operation, which results in significant downtime. The functionality of free hosting is limited compared to the paid one. Secondly, many free hosting services don’t support the features that make websites modern and relevant. Thirdly, expect to see provider’s ads on your site in exchange for their services. This solution is not suitable for personal sites and young projects but is probably the best option for commercial websites.
When you pay for hosting, you pay for the rent of disc space and features that come in a chosen package. You can always choose a paid hosting that meets your requirements. There are several package options, each with different services and prices.
How to determine a good hosting provider?
The majority compares prices for packages and services included in each to decide. As a rule, users pick something average or something that comes with discounts. Pricing policy, however, shouldn’t be the main factor for choosing a particular site. There are at least five things to add to the checklist before you make a decision.
- Equipment in a reliable data center, which goes off only in critical situations and is backed up by the standby applications.
- High uptime and minimum downtime, meaning the continuous functioning of your web platform, preferably with no delays or hangouts.
- Daily data backup, including FTP access for server files management, ensures data integrity and helps to feel more confident.
- Security features, which protect from unauthorized data access, fraud, and DDoS attacks.
- Technical support for easier setup and management. You may face some questions and unknown features, and it is better to specify information through Help Desk than start the experiments.
Good hosting providers are user-friendly. A convenient program interface helps to host your own website and manage the basic settings without assistance.
How to host a website: step by step guide
Step 1. Buy domain name
The domain name should match the name of your website, so you need to decide on the brand name first. It should reflect the activity of your service or the subject you cover if it is a magazine. Pick a short name, which is easy to pronounce and remember.
When you come up with several ideas for website name, check how SEO friendly they are. Google your name options to see what you get on the list of the results. If you see services of similar specialization or too many different sites with similar names, choose something more original. Otherwise, search systems will not notice you, and users may not understand the difference, mistaking some website for yours.
After you decide upon a name, check if it is available. Many good names are already occupied. If yours is still free, claim it immediately. Some business owners decide to buy domains with all the suffixes to make sure no one else occupies them. A suffix is a part after the dot – .com, .us, .uk, .tv, .info, etc. It reflects either the specialization (e.g., .com stands for “commercial website”) or the location (e.g., .au means that the site operates in Australia, although you can access it from any part of the world).
After you register a domain name, you’ll need to wait for confirmation. It takes up to 48 hours to process your request and turn on the name, although you may receive the response immediately. When you have a name and a domain, you can move to website hosting. It is always better to get a domain name and hosting from the same company. Besides, many companies provide end-to-end solutions with one year of free hosting included or something similar.
Step 2. Choose hosting provider
You may already have a domain name or get it after choosing a hosting provider. Every service assures they know how to host a website better than the others. Nevertheless, there is a list of requirements to keep in mind when you choose a hosting provider. Instead of nicely-written marketing texts, pay attention to the following criteria.
#1. Prices may be deceiving. You need to be aware of the website specifications to decide whether to pay $20 or $250 monthly. Higher prices don’t reflect the experience of the team or better quality. This may be a price for the package of services you simply do not need due to the scale of your site or its peculiarities.
#2. Good uptime. We’ve already mentioned it before, but that’s a good point to remind about. According to the definition, uptime is the time that passes from the moment of opening to a shutdown. Uptime is measured in percentage and shows how stable the site is in its continuous functioning. If your website is down for a while, it will result in a blank screen, 500 error, or hang-ups. Besides negative user experience and unfinished customer journeys, it affects the SEO and website ranking. To survive in a highly competitive environment, you should have 99.5% uptime. Check out user reviews about hosting providers to find out if a service can provide it.
#3. Reliability. In most cases, a website is not only an informational resource. It is a link in a chain: it is an important part of the sales strategy, a source of revenue, an advertising platform, etc. When the site goes down due to some technical issues, the company starts losing money. Look for the hosts that offer redundancy – compensation in case of an outage.
#4. Backups. You can keep a copy of all the data somewhere in a safe place, just in case of a breakdown, DDoS attack, viruses or some other issues. Many web hosting services offer to do it for you on a daily basis, so you don’t lose more than day’s progress.
#5. Support team. If something still goes wrong (remember WannaCry ransomware attack?), you’ll need to react fast and ask for professional assistance. It means there should be a Help Desk open 24/7 for special emergency requests. A self-hosted website is never a good idea.
#6. Easy access. To host a website effectively if you aren’t able to manage the basic settings on your own, contact a support team. Check whether a hosting service has a separate profile for you with access to a control panel. The absence of hosting panel means you’ll need to hire someone with technical expertise to change the settings and manage accounts (and that’s just ridiculous).
#7. Bandwidth. Consider the amount of traffic that will pass through your platform monthly. Small businesses with little multimedia content can go with only 10 GB monthly. If you expect a thousand visitors every day and plan to let them view large media files (photos and videos in high quality), you’ll need at least 150 GB every month.
#8. Ambitions and scalability. You certainly have some expectations and plans for future development, and they often define website placement at hosting. If you expect that the website will grow bigger with time, make sure it will handle the load you plan to get a few months later. Check whether there is an opportunity to upgrade the current plan in case of need before the expiry of the current one.
#9. SSL protocol. Website security is one feature to take care of at the very beginning. SSL is the certificate that protects website security – the one that displays a lock at the beginning of an address row and guarantees that your data won’t be stolen during the usage. It is also a good SEO booster.
#10. Dedicated mailbox. Think of it from the position of a user: would you like to receive emails from the website’s mail or Gmail/Yahoo? The latter seems at least suspicious, and it may influence your reputation negatively. Such services properly provide a mailbox with several or unlimited accounts. Check if it is included before subscribing.
You may also consider some extra services – a particular CMS or database type, which is more convenient to work with, firewall protection, multiple accounts, personal assistant if you aren’t technically proficient at managing everything yourself.
Step 3. Choose the right hosting plan
There are four main hosting types. When you try to decide on hosting for your website, pay attention to the number of visitors you expect daily and development strategy. More details in the table below.
Web hosting types
What it is and
when it’s used
|Your website is located on a physical server along with many other sites – hundreds of other web platforms.
It is a solution for websites with up to 1,500 daily visitors and basic technical requirements.
|Enough storage for creation of several thousand of light pages (e.g., webshop catalog).
Cost-effective solution for beginners.
Users can buy extra space later.
|Resources are divided between numerous users, so loading speed and space are often limited.|
Virtual dedicated server
(also known as
VDS or VPS)
|You still share server space with other websites, but only two or three. There is a section that is entirely yours.
You can welcome up to 15,000 daily users without breakdowns.
|Server software settings management is available.
Increased flexibility and good scalability.
|Isn’t suitable for big websites or large-scale marketing campaigns with unpredicted traffic flow.|
|Your website occupies an entire physical server located on a provider’s service platform.
It is a solution for large websites with several dozens of unique visitors daily.
|All resources are dedicated to supporting your site only.
No limitations in terms of speed or storage, even if you keep developing your site.
|Expensive hosting option.
You need to hire a tech specialist for server maintenance and management.
|Your website is supported and powered up by several servers at once.
This is an option for small websites, which start to outgrow their primary features and expectations.
|More flexible compared to shared hosting.
The backup provides high uptime even during breakdowns.
|It is often a transient solution used in case you aren’t certain about the website scale and perspectives.|
To find out more about all the nuances of website setting up, read our “How To Make A Website” guide.