What is web hosting?
Web hosting is the activity or business of providing storage space and access for websites. With paid hosting, you pay a fee for space and services on a web host provider’s server. Depending upon what you need, the price monthly can be high or relatively low.
Basically, if you imagine your online offering in real estate analogy: your domain name is your street address. Your website is your house. Web hosting is the plot of land on which your house sits. Make sense?
What types of web hosting are there?
Here’s a handy list of definitions from website.com that explains the differences:
Free web hosting can be a good choice when you just want to build a non-critical website for fun. Very often in a free hosting environment, connection speed is slow, website can be down frequently, and advertising banners is automatically added to your website. Some companies require you to purchase your domain name to receive free hosting services from them, while others offer you a free subdomain under them, such as [yourname.webhost.com]. Be careful as you will not be able to transfer these free subdomains.
In a shared hosting environment, you and other website owners shared one server. This includes sharing the physical server and the software applications within the server. Shared hosting services are affordable because the cost to operate the server is shared between you and these other owners. There are, however, a number of down sides, such as being slower.
In a dedicated hosting environment, you have the entire web server to yourself. This allows for faster performance, as you have all the server’s resources entirely, without sharing with other website owners. However, this also means that you will be responsible for the cost of server operation entirely. This is a good choice for websites that requires a lot of system resources, or need a higher level of security.
In this type of hosting, you will purchase your own server and have it housed at a web host’s facilities. You will be responsible for the server itself. An advantage of this type of hosting service is you have full control of the web server. You can install any scripts or applications you need.
So, which kind of web hosting do I need?
The type of hosting you need depends on what you want to include on your website. If it’s just a simple site, with some “brochure-like” pages and a “contact us” form – or a simple WordPress template, you probably only need a basic package.
If you have more bells and whistles on your site, you may need more than a basic package. You may want to consider upgrading your hosting, for instance, if you have a large database or if you have an eCommerce website. eCommerce websites must have a system that determines with how you’ll accept payments and allow people to make purchases. And if you business processes transactions, you’ll need a secure sockets layer or an SSL certificate to protect your customer’s data.
No matter what kind of hosting you choose, make sure your name is on the account. This may sound silly, but many companies ask the builders of their websites (like us!) to manage their domains and web hosting for them. This is a perfectly normal way of doing things, but what happens if you sever the relationship down the road? Making sure that your name (ideally the business owner – not an employee who may change jobs at some point) is on the hosting account. That way, if there’s ever any question about who “owns” the website, you have staked your claim.