If you're new to the website creation space, web hosting might sound like something crazy complicated, not knowing what types of hosting there is and how it all links together.
Many beginners actually don't know what web hosting is, are you one of them?
In this blog post, I'm going to teach you what you need to know about website hosting, essentially, a dummies guide out of the box.
If you've never come across building a website before, and recently have built a website, you're going to need to put that website somewhere for someone to see right?
You're going to want to build up an audience and provide them with valuable content, helpful information, products and services.
Your website lives on the internet and lives in a space called web hosting. It's the place where your website lives and where you'll gain access to make edits to your site such as:
You could just send your website to people, or upload screenshots on the internet on social media websites, but this isn't really the right way to do it...
Web hosting works like this...
You take your website, that's usually the static HTML files, CSS and JS files that live in some folder, usually you'll find a file called index.html, this is your website's homepage, the page people will see when they load up your site for the first time.
There's also other types of websites as well...
Firstly, you've got the static websites, where you'll be editing the files that live in a folder. Much like the definition above.
You've also got the very popular Wordpress websites, Wordpress is great for beginners, and was created a few years ago to serve as a blog and remains much like a traditional blog today if that's all you need.
If you're working with a website developer, or a website design agency, they might develop a bespoke website for you, these typically are much more complex than the simple static sites, and often require the agency to update any content for you, such as page content.
Web hosting is quite a difficult subject to understand if you're not familiar, it's the server where your website lives.
When you buy a domain name for a website and buy web hosting, you'll be given an allocated space on their server, and there are many types of servers that you can use for hosting.
Your website consists of files and folders that occupy this space on the server, and is available to your website users when they load up your site in a visually pleasant design and theme.
As mentioned, there are many different types of web hosting available to you, and I'm going to go through each one, the most popular ones so that you know everything about them...
Shared hosting is perfect for entry level websites, static websites which don't have a lot of complex functionality linked to them.
The servers behind shared hosting typically have their resources split across the number of sites that are running on them, and this makes it a cost effective solution.
Resources such as RAM (Random Access Memory) and CPU (Central Processing Unit) are split equally across the sites.
In the majority of cases, if you're a beginner, this is the type of hosting you will want to start with as other types of web hosting can become quite expensive - not really ideal if you're a website that has only just launched.
Unlike shared hosting, VPS hosting is an excellent "in-between" middle ground if you're looking to be able to customise the resources allocated to the server.
If you're looking for more control over the allocation of resources, and don't need a dedicated server, then VPS hosting is your best solution.
Although, similarly to shared hosting, VPS hosting isn't going to be able to handle the same amount of website traffic and requests as dedicated servers, which is the next on the list to cover...
If total control and peace of mind is what you need, and the flexibility to customise the allocation of RAM and CPU power, dedicated server hosting is going to be the choice for you.
Right now, as of creating this article, our domain monitor doesn't use dedicated hosting, and likely won't for a long time.
Personally, I think you're only going to need dedicated hosting if you plan on getting hundreds if not thousands of website visits every day, if not, then I'd stay with something like a good shared hosting plan.
Unfortunately, as you might've guessed, this does come at a price. They're typically the most expensive types of website hosting to get started with
One of the biggest downfalls to new website owners, especially the ones that aren't the most technically minded, is that a dedicated server is going to require some experience in installing and configuring everything on the server.
But don't worry...
If you're not very experienced in this area, I'd get in touch with your web agency (if this is the route you went down to build your website) or find one in your area that can help you.
Okay, so we're probably now in a section of hosting types which aren't really going to apply to you if you're on that Wordpress or static website, and will likely confuse you a whole bunch if you're lost by this point...
But cloud hosting is a mixture of computers or servers working together to combine the resource power of all of them to give you the flexibility to grow your website to the next level.
And that's exactly what cloud hosting is all about...
It's about being able to grow your website and scale up the operations without worrying about moving your server in the future.
One of the things you might've been wondering, is exactly how your domain name is linked to website hosting right?
When you buy a domain name, unless you bought it as part of a pre-configured web hosting package, you'll need to link your domain name to the website where your server is hosted through what's called: nameservers.
A domain nameserver is responsible for keeping a file with some information about your domain and IP addresses. It's also responsible for holding onto information which is used when a DNS lookup takes place - this is why we're able to find out when your domain name is about to expire on our domain monitor.
When someone visits your website, they're going to type in the domain that you registered right?
Behind the domain name lives an IP address, and is essentially numbers split out by dots, it will look something like:
Of course, that's not very helpful to your users browsing your website, in fact, how will your website users even find your website if that's what they have to type in?
It's essential to buy a domain name if you want to have any real success with growing your website traffic, you can't have your website accessible by just the IP alone, it simply won't rank in the search engine.
Luckily, I've put together a blog post on just how to go about buying a domain for a website and suggest taking a look at that blog post as well.
When it comes to figuring out what web hosting is best to pick and what one suits you, you want to consider a few things:
Bandwidth, or sometimes referred to as the "data transfer" or "traffic" is the amount of data that you can transfer to your website visitors when they're browsing your content, for instance, if you have a CSS file that's 5MB in size and you had 1 person load up your site every day for 30 days...
You would've ended up using 150MB of data over that period of time.
Whilst this doesn't seem like a lot in comparison to the amount of bandwidth most web hosting providers offer, it can quickly add up when you've got images, and many site assets like images.
Think of it like having your broadband capped at a certain usage limit for the month, it's a similar story here for bandwidth.
If you're looking to grow your website and increase the amount of organic search traffic your site gets every month, then almost certainly you're going to want paid hosting.
Free website hosting is great for testing out experiments, chucking a web page on the internet on an IP address and previewing what a new piece of content might look like on a smartphone...
But this simply won't cut it for the long run, building up an SEO profile and driving massive amounts of traffic to your site.
In fact, I've put together an article on whether free unlimited web hosting is worth it, so take a read of that where I go into more detail about the advantages and disadvantages.
When shopping for the best web hosting provider, one of the most critical factors that you might want to consider, is actually whether you're able to upgrade your package later down the line as your website grows.
Luckily, most web hosting providers nowadays such as those offering shared hosting will have a reasonable amount of flexibility when it comes to the resources allocated to shared hosting, so you should be okay.
Everyone likes excellent customer service, it's expected from big companies and small companies alike, so ensuring that the hosting provider you're planning on starting with has great customer service will go a long way for sure!
When it comes to figuring out what the best web hosting provider is, you'll want to search through various reviews and articles before.
Educate yourself with the know-how first in order to maximise the quality of the decision you make. Choosing the right web hosting provider now will ensure that you're able to scale and grow your website with ease and prevent website downtime!
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