Why Website Hosting Isn’t as Complicated as You Think
Website hosting is not a complicated thing. Plain and simple.
When talking with a client who is starting out with their first website, we inevitably spend quite a bit of time talking about hosting. Website hosting is one of those things that you need for a website, but most people don’t realize they need it or know what it is. (Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_hosting_service)
Simply put, hosting or the host server, is the physical server/computer/system where the website ‘lives’. The files, databases, images, etc are all located on that host. Hosting is the act of segmenting off a portion of that server for use for a single website or user.
Hosting is completely separate from the domain registration and DNS (Domain Name System) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_Name_System). And for good reason. Domain registration, ensures that you own the domain you register for. DNS points that domain that you have registered to the hosting you have setup.
When selecting hosting, you should ask a few questions…
- How much storage space?
- Shared Hosting?
- How much bandwidth?
- Other features?
Most hosts provide very large quotas. But don’t be fooled by this tactic. Most websites are on the order of 100MB or less in size. Many things affect the size of a website. Images, the size of images, constant blog posts, adding files or other media, etc. But, most sites that I have built or manage start out being relatively small. Nothing where you would ever need 100GB or more of space.
Shared Website Hosting
Are you on shared hosting? Most hosting is shared hosting, but what does that mean? It means that your website is on a server with other sites. How many other sites depends on the hosting company. It is not uncommon to have hundreds of other sites on the same server. Larger hosting companies will use load balancing software to determine the best combination.
That doesn’t mean it is ideal to be in a shared environment. You may be sharing space with hundreds of other sites that aren’t using many resources, except for possibly one hour of the day. What if they eat up all the resources during that time? Your site will seem slow and sluggish and it isn’t a result of any issue with your site, but of your hosting.
Bandwidth is another thing with hosting that I end up explaining. I equate it to your data plan for your cellphone. The server meters all data to/from your site. Depending upon the limit of your bandwidth each month can cap you and disable your account. Larger bandwidth is usually better, but overestimating your bandwidth can cost you a lot more money each month than you want.
Finally other features should be thought of. Do you have access to MySQL databases? If you want to utilize WordPress (https://wordpress.org/) or just about any current web based application, you will need a database.
Does hosting provide email services? Typically the hosting server has a built in mail server gateway. This allows you to setup a pop/imap connection and get an email address utilizing your own domain.
Does the hosting provide things to help your hosting experience like cPanel. cPanel is a graphical interface that allows anyone the ability to tweak things about their host or server that normally you’d need administrator knowledge to change. It is the defacto standard for hosting environments.
Hosting is simple. It is just one more piece in the puzzle. Knowing what you’re getting and whether or not you actually need it is the trick. If you have any questions about hosting just ask…