If you are still new in the online scene the term ‘web hosting’ may be pretty strange to you. May be you’ve heard the term website hosting before but you’re not too sure what it means. This article is meant to give you that basic information because you need it the minute you invest in a website.
What is Web Hosting and why do you need it?
In simple terms, web hosting is what makes your website available to users online. It is what makes your website to be visible by anyone on the internet at any point in time. For your website to be visible online, it has to be connected to a computer that has internet connection 24hours a day, 7 days a week. That is what a web host does.
A web host gives you space on its server which allows other computers around the world to access your website using either a network or a modem. You pay for this space even though there are some free services that come with limited options. What you choose depends on your needs and budget.
Different Types of Hosting
There are different types of web hosting providers. Let’s look at the most common options.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
ISPs provide a generally easy and inexpensive way of hosting your website. This is why many people put up their first websites using ISPs. Internet service providers offer inexpensive packages with a small amount of free web space. They also offer you a few tools which you can use to create and quickly upload your website.
These service providers are perfect for small business websites which have low traffic. However, if you plan on establishing a thriving website then these ISPs will not suit your web hosting needs because they don’t offer a lot of features and they come with some rate restrictions.
Unpaid/Free Website Hosting
A small website can also benefit from free web hosting services. In this case, you are going to have some features and a small amount of free web space for your website. The major drawback of free web hosting is the advertising that normally appears on your site. You have no control over what advertising is placed on your website and that’s why free web hosting is not recommended for a business website but rather a personal website.
Paid Website Hosting
Most businesses choose paid web hosting because it allows them access to more features and you are in charge of the adverts that go on your site. With a paid web hosting service, you can get extra bandwidth, more space on the server and so much more.
Domain Hosting Services
This is the most common, and possibly the best option for small businesses looking for a reliable and affordable web host. With domain hosting, you can host your site wherever you like. This simply means that, you can host your site on an ISP or even your own server. What you have to do is to buy a domain name.
Once you buy your domain name, the provider will forward all requests to the actual web location. It is a less expensive option than buying the domain and web hosting at the same time. It is also advantageous in the sense that it allows you to brand your URL.
There are those businesses which prefer to run their own servers and machines but they don’t have to maintain them directly. In this case, they will seek collocation services. In this case, the business will take their server on the premise of their web host (either ISP or paid hosting provider). When this server is at the web host’s premises, it is going to be properly maintained and stored.
This means that the business still has control over their own server but they are assured of security, proper maintenance and protection of their servers.
Hosting your Website yourself
For those companies with very large databases, they choose direct internet access to have complete control over their web servers. This type of website hosting is mostly valid for companies that have high security and their website servers need proper protection.
Hosting your Website yourself vs. using a Hosting Provider
Hosting your website yourself can be a lot of work. You will have to invest in the right equipment; this includes a web server, storage space, permanent connection to the internet and uninterrupted power supply. You will also need to invest in skills like server management and configuration as well as management of firewalls and virus protection. Most people do not host their own websites even when they have the skills and equipment because it is more effective to hand over this job to a third party that monitors the site 24/7.
How to choose a Web Hosting Provider
Choosing a hosting provider is not something you should do in a rush. Take your time to research properly and find a company that specializes in website hosting. A good web hosting provider will offer:
- Check the advertising method that is used by the web hosting provider if any
- Do they offer enough web space for your needs?
- Do they offer FTP access 24/7?
- Find out what the file type and size limitations are. You should be able to upload different file types like jpg and gif images on the site.
- Choose a web hosting provider that is reliability. Reliability and access are very critical because they ensure your site is never down and you will not lose a lot of visitors. Slow access is very frustrating to most web visitors. Get feedback from people who have used the web host before.
- Do they provide PHP access?
- What are the bandwidth allotments? Find out what the limits are on the amount of traffic your website can receive on a daily or monthly basis. Some web host providers will charge you an additional fee or disable your site if it exceeds the amount of traffic prescribed.
When it comes to web hosting, a high price doesn’t guarantee a perfect hosting service. However, you are likely not to get top notch service if you pay the bottom prices. You need to look into the reliability and features offered by a web hosting provider before making a decision.