This month we’ve answered your pressing web questions by releasing a new 60-second video each Wednesday. Today we’re finishing up the series by talking web hosting, but it’s not too late to catch our previous #WebBasicsinUnder60Seconds clips: How Do Websites Work, How Do Servers Work, and How Do Domains Work.
You’ve just reserved a domain name and are ready to start building your website. Congratulations! Now you may be wondering why you have to pay for web hosting. This begs the question: What is web hosting? And why do I need it?
How Does Web Hosting Work?
When you want to start a business in the real world, you need a physical location to set up, store, and sell your products. The same rules apply in the digital world when setting up a website.
When you set up an online business, you have a series of files, images, and HTML code that make up your website. These files take up space and need a place to live. Without an online home, your files would just sit on your computer and no one would ever see them. A hosting provider will provide a place on a web server to store all of your files and are responsible for delivering the files of your website as soon as a browser makes a request by typing in your domain name.
When you pay for hosting services, you are simply renting storage space on the internet — just like you would rent a physical store for your business.
What is a Domain Name?
Before we go into more depth, let’s talk about domain names. When you first thought about starting an online business, you purchased a domain name. A domain name is your company’s address on the internet.
Think of it this way: if you are renting space at a physical location for your business, you give customers your street address so they can find you. If you are renting space on the internet, you give customers your domain name.
Whenever someone types in your domain name, it is converted into an IP address. The hosting company then locates all the files connected to your IP address and returns all of the pictures, videos, and words that make up your website.
Just like every street address is unique, so is every domain name. Whenever you start a new website, you get the opportunity to choose a name that perfectly reflects your brand.
How to Choose a Hosting Provider
When selecting a provider it is important to consider the different types of hosting services that are offered. Here are a few things to consider when determining where you would like to host your site.
- What type of website are you building? eCommerce, blog, portfolio, etc.
- Based on the type website, what is the bandwidth needed to run your site
- Can you create email addresses for your domain?
- What type of hosting options are available?
- Do they provide SSL Certificates?
After choosing a hosting provider, completing your domain registration is easy! Often times your web host can also be your domain registrar.
Types of Web Hosting
If you are looking to host a website for your small business, Bluehost is a web hosting provider that offers a variety of hosting services to suit your needs. Once you have chosen your provider, you will need to create a hosting account and determine what type of hosting will work best for your site.
Shared hosting is the most common type of web hosting and is suitable for most online business owners. With shared hosting, several customers share storage space on one powerful server. There are several advantages to shared hosting including:
- Affordability — It’s much cheaper to share the space on a server than to rent the entire machine.
- Ease of use — Your server is preconfigured, well-organized, easy to use, and your hosting company does all the maintenance and security updates for you.
Rather than sharing space, you get a server all to yourself if you choose a dedicated hosting package. Advantages to dedicated hosting include:
- Customization — You can customize the software and hardware to meet your individual needs
- Unlimited Resources — Since you don’t share the server with anyone, all the storage space is yours.
- Full control — You can configure the setup however you’d like.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting includes all the features of a dedicated server, but at the price point of a shared server. Here are some of the top reasons VPS hosting might be a great fit:
- Functionality — VPS hosting is built on a cPanel and supports easy navigation with several intuitive tools.
- One-click features — You have access to one-click installs of WordPress, Magento, and Drupal.
- Easy site navigation — The clean interface makes site management a cinch.
Cloud hosting is often considered the most reliable of all of the services. Rather than relying on disk space of a single server, it pulls its power from several resources, making sure you never have any downtime. Other benefits include:
- Scalability — You can add to your cloud space at any time.
- Unmetered bandwidth — You don’t have to worry about your site going down due to a server failure.