Web hosting, anyone with a website needs it. The term refers to the art of keeping your website online on a server so that it is accessible online to everyone. Web hosting comes in all shapes and sizes, how do you choose the right package in 2020? How do you make a smart choice so that you will be dealing with the best web hosting company in your specific situation?
A website means nothing if it cannot be found on the internet. You can place a website on the worldwide web by dropping it on a server. This server (which runs day and night) will show your site to anyone who requests it. For example, when someone navigates to google.com, the web server will process that request and then deliver the Google website. Nice! If you need an online presence you will have to search for your own place on the internet in the form of ‘web hosting‘. In this guide we inform you about everything you need to pay attention to in case of a web hosting subscription.
With or without domain name
Every website has a domain name. That name must be rented annually from a provider and there are also long-term contracts. When a domain name is free, it can be yours for about 10 dollars a year. Unfortunately, this market on the worldwide web is big business and most domain names around generic words are already occupied. If you want to purchase a domain name that is already occupied, you have to make a (high) bid that often amounts to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In many cases it is better to look for an alternative domain name for example by accepting another extension than .com such as .info, .net, .us etc.
A website consists of many files: HTML pages, CSS, scripts, images, videos … All these files must be stored on the server and this needs space. The space that you get for this with a certain web hosting package is described as ‘storage’. If you have a website of a small size, 1GB is often sufficient, but web hosting companies often give you some extra peace of mind and quickly offer more than 10GB. So in most scenarios you don’t have to worry about storage.
When you get started with a CMS such as WordPress or Joomla, you need a database. In this database all dynamic data is stored such as messages, content of pages, users, comments … You cannot save any of these without a database, so if you want a dynamic website, you always need a database. When you choose a package it is not only important to look at the number of databases you get (generally 1 database per website is sufficient), but also their maximum capacity. It may be difficult in the beginning to estimate how large your database will be on the long term, but 100MB is the absolute minimum to make a good start. Also inquire about the prices to increase the maximum capacity of the database if you run into limitations overtime.
If you want to make a professional impression, it would be a bad idea to continue using a Yahoo, G-mail or Outlook address. It is often desirable to have an e-mail address in the form of firstname.lastname@example.org. In some cases, a (or even several) mailbox is included in the rent of your domain name. If this is the case, you do not have to purchase a web hosting package if you only want e-mail hosting. If not included, many web hosts offer a package with only e-mail hosting. If you want to have a mailbox that goes hand in hand with your domain name, you will have to pay extra attention to the presence of one or more mailboxes.
Shared hosting vs. Dedicated Hosting (VPS)
When you choose a VPS, you choose to rent a server. You might imagine that somewhere in a server room there will be a giant server with your name on it, but unfortunately this is not the case. That gigantic server is divided into many different ‘virtual’ servers, hence the name Virtual Private Server. Just like with shared hosting (most web hosting packages are shared hosting) you share the server with others, but with a VPS a certain amount of computing power is exclusively reserved for you. So you always know for sure that the server has provided you with a certain capacity. With shared hosting, capacity is shared among all websites on that server. When one of these websites suddenly demands a lot of computing power (for example due to an attack), it is possible that your website will suffer also as a result. A Virtual Private Server gives you the guarantee that you have the necessary computing power available at all times, even in the event of attacks.
Furthermore, a subdivision is made between ‘managed’ and ‘unmanaged’ VPS. With managed VPS, a professional will take care of setting up and keeping the server up-to-date. In the event of a hack, virus or other technical problem, a specialist is always at hand to solve the problem. Of course, a managed VPS is more expensive than an unmanaged VPS, where you are entirely responsible for the configuration and maintenance of the server.
Every time someone visits your website, the website files are downloaded to their computer. The server must therefore send files of a certain size and therefore use bandwidth. Nowadays many web hosting packages have unlimited bandwidth, but with cheaper packages it can still happen that the bandwidth is limited.
How much bandwidth you use depends on the number of visitors and the size of the files that you offer on your website. For example, if you let people download software on your website or if you work with many images and videos (that are not on YouTube or another service), the bandwidth will increase quite quickly.
These are all too often forgotten. Users think “my website is safe on professional servers so I don’t need a backup,” but of course this is not the right way of thinking. What happens if your website is hacked or when you make a mistake that makes your website no longer work properly? In such a case you wish you could turn back the time and in many cases you can. Many web hosting providers make daily back-ups of their customers’ websites and can always restore an earlier version when needed. So before you sign up, please check the web hosting backup policy. How often is a backup made, what does the backup contain (only the website files or also the database) and how much do you have to pay if you want to restore a backup?
By following the tips as mentioned above you should be able to make the best choice when selecting a website hosting company. Good luck!