Whether you are setting up an e-commerce business, personal blog, forum or some kind of information exchange, if you have a website you will need website hosting. If this is your first website it can seem a little daunting and challenging to say the least. However, the process of acquiring web hosting, setting up a website and announcing yourself on the World Wide Web is not as difficult as some would have you believe.
There will no doubt be many simple questions you would like answered and queries you are perhaps a little embarrassed to ask. We have therefore structured this article as a guide to those setting up a website for the first time and considering the various website hosting options.
Do I need web hosting to launch a website?
The simple answer to this question is, yes! Whatever type of website you launch, whatever service you use to set up the site, without website hosting you will not be part of the online revolution. There are different types of website hosting available and an array of managed web hosting services. Let us will go through the different types of web hosting in detail below.
What is website hosting?
When you set up a website hosting account, basically you are buying space on a server which is used to store all of your website files. This will include media files, CSS files, HTML files, documents and anything else which appears on your website. The best web hosting provider, will bee able to manage all of your files, monitor traffic and basically ensure that your website is up and running with no issues.
The use of domain names ensures that visitors to your website are directed to your web server and see what you want them to see.
Perhaps the best way to describe the relationship between a domain name and your web hosting is that web hosting is your storage facility and the domain name is your virtual address.
So, when acquiring a domain name you simply point that particular domain name in the direction of your web server and hey presto, your site is alive and kicking.
3 Top benefits of web hosting
There are many benefits to web hosting, from a relatively simple personal blog to a large dynamic e-commerce business, you will very quickly learn how important it is.
1. Total control of your website:
Those looking to set up their first website will no doubt have come across a number of platforms which offer free hosting as long as you abide by a number of potentially restrictive terms and conditions. Over the years we have seen many businesses crash and burn with free website companies going out of business, taking their client domain names with them and websites disappearing overnight. If you are serious about your website then you need to maintain control and the best way to do this is to arrange your own website hosting.
2. Freedom to customize your website:
As we touched on above, some of the terms and conditions associated with free website platforms can be extremely restrictive and it is unlikely you will have any control over the use of different software packages. In exchange for “free hosting” your website will likely be co-branded with the platform name – they will benefit from your hard work. However, for many people it is the inability to move with the times, utilize the latest software trends and the freedom to add plug-ins which is a major drawback. If you are looking to set up an online business surely it makes sense to have freedom of choice?
3. Website security:
Aim to find a versatile Web Host with the best hosting solutions and an array of managed web hosting services. This will give you the freedom to choose the best plans to ensure that your website is as secure as possible. For example, a web host should be able to monitor and control traffic, taking action where suspicious activity occurs. There is also the issue of regular backups, security software upgrades, 24/7 support for customers as well as ensuring that server speeds are maintained at optimum levels. Website security and finding a secure and reliable web host goes hand in hand as smart hosting practices can help to enhance security.
Different types of web hosting
At first glance, when you see the list of different types of website hosting it can be extremely daunting. Where do you start, what do you need and will there be opportunities to upgrade in the future as and when your website expands? Thankfully, these are questions we are asked on a regular basis and we can direct you to the most appropriate managed hosting package for your situation.
Shared hosting is seen by many as the “entry level” option which is offered by most hosting providers. In many ways this image cheapens the services available via shared hosting and may give the wrong impression. The reason that prices are relatively low with shared hosting is because numerous accounts are installed on one server and smart hosting software ensures that the resources available are used most efficiently. Unless your website is extremely complicated and receiving significant traffic from day one, you are unlikely to see any impact on website speeds and quality of service with shared hosting.
While cloud hosting has been around for some time it is perhaps not as well-known as shared hosting, VPS and dedicated server hosting. You have probably heard of the “cloud” but what exactly does it mean and what can it do for you?
The best way to describe cloud hosting is a network of servers used by your web hosting provider. Website traffic and server resources are managed in an extremely efficient manner making this particular type of hosting perfect for high volume traffic sites. During busy periods there is a seamless distribution of resources across the whole network of servers ensuring optimal website speeds are maintained and preventing server crashes. Capacity across the cloud server network is micromanaged to achieve maximum uptime.
Virtual Private Server hosting
Often referred to as VPS, this is the next step up from shared hosting and something of a hybrid between shared hosting and a dedicated server. As your website becomes busier, traffic increases and more complex coding is required, this may be the perfect time to move to VPS hosting. In reality this type of hosting will see a relatively small number of accounts using space and resources on one server. However, the way in which these servers are managed is akin to a server within a server. You have the same controls as you would with a dedicated server, the same protections and the same options to expand as and when required. Pricewise, Virtual Private Server hosting is positioned somewhere between shared hosting and a dedicated server.
Dedicated server hosting
As the name suggests, dedicated server hosting will see individual accounts having their own dedicated server. This type of hosting package ensures that large and extremely busy websites have exclusive access to server resources and the capacity to operate at optimum efficiency. The fact that resources are not shared with any other website hosting accounts also allows ultimate control and customisation. As you would expect, dedicated server hosting is the most expensive type of hosting available but for large busy websites it can often be the only real option.
If you are looking to start a website there are an array of managed web hosting services from the beginner level through to advanced, business and the ultimate package which handles more complex sites with heavy traffic. Many introductory offers exist for people with low budgets with hosting packages starting from as little as 2.70 € a month. Don’t forget, to check if your hosting provider offers 24/7 support to answer any queries you may have and solve any issues with your website.
Check our blog frequently for information on web server requirements and useful tips to build your business and increasing your traffic.