The Get-Started Guide to Web Hosting

If you’re running a business, having a website is a no-brainer. And to have a web site, you need several things… just one of which includes hosting. But what is it? And where do you go from knowing that you need one? Read on.

The Basics of Web Hosting

Web hosting is more or less what makes your site actually work so that people can see it (details, right?). Needless to say, it’s a critical part of your site.

Think of your website as a pre-fab house; it doesn’t really matter where it’s designed or built, but it does need a place to call “home.” Your web hosting is that home. So, you can design using free templates, a variety of sites that can make it easy, or from scratch using professional designers and programmers. Separately, you need a place to put all that code that comprises your site to take that URL you assign it and bring it public so people can actually find – and use – your site.

There are tons of providers out there to choose from – but what should you look for and how do you pick?

There’s More Than One Way to Host

As with anything web-related, there is no one “right” way. There are, in general, four types of hosting scenarios; which is right for you will depend on your needs.

compare web hosting options

Infographic credit: Web Hosting Secret Revealed.

Shared Server Hosting

Looking back to our housing scenario; shared server hosting is like renting a condo. You have your “own” space, but it resides alongside a bunch of other condos (sites, in this case) and shares amenities (in condo terms, this might be a pool or tennis courts, but in the hosting world, this comes down to things more along the lines of storage space and bandwidth).

Because you’re sharing resources, the costs for shared server hosting are relatively low – especially in comparison to other options. However, there are limitations; for example, you may not have root access.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

VPS hosting is like owning you’re a townhome. You’ll have full access to your own space and have set parameters as to what is yours, but you’ll still technically share the walls (in the hosting world, this means that you’re technically sharing a server, but that server is divided to ensure that everyone has their own resources and guaranteed resources).

As is the case with noisy townhouse neighbors, you can be affected by what they do on the other side of the shared walls; too much usage on one person’s part can still affect performance for others.

Dedicated Server Hosting

Dedicated server hosting is the single family home of the hosting world, providing you with your own server, land, resources – you get the idea.

You’ll have complete control over your “property”… but as is the case with a single family home, that freedom and resource pool comes with added cost.

Cloud Hosting

As the name implies, cloud hosting is hosting in “the cloud.” Or in layman’s terms, hosting that happens without physical locations or constraints. A group of servers work together to create your particular cloud; and since they’re working together, that cloud is able to symbiotically provide enhanced abilities to handle traffic spikes or high traffic in general. The downside is that you likely won’t have root access in this scenario and it can come with higher costs.

Picking Up A Web Host

Picking a host is a whole other ball of wax, but choosing the type of environment that is right for you will help you to pre-qualify which providers might be an option for you. From there, you can narrow it down based on a variety of factors, such as:

  • Cost
  • Overselling policies
  • Terms of use
  • Service limitations
  • Number of domains included

For more information about selecting the right web host for you, see [insert_link].

Picking Your Street Address

One cool thing about picking your website’s home vs an actual house: you get to name your own street address. Whatever you want – so long as it isn’t already taken! In general, your domain name (the address someone types into the URL bar to get to your site) should be easy to remember and related to your business.

There are plenty of things to consider when getting your own site up and running. For starters, you’ll need a design and code, web host, and domain name.

For more about next steps, picking the right host, or pretty much anything else in this realm, check out: The 17 Criterias Host Shoppers Need to Know.