Whether you’re hiring a web designer or trying your hand at building your own online presence, you’ll need to know the lingo. By taking the time to understand what web hosting is and why you need it, you’ll be able to make the right decision about your own website and, ultimately, your business’ online shopfront.
Web hosting is where your website ‘lives’. The host is more than just a server on which your site and data live, depending on the setup and your package, you share responsibility with your host for the functional aspects of your site such as security and load speed.
A website is composed of files such as the base code, imagery, files etc. These are then hosted on a web server – which is almost like leasing a portion of the internet as you would rent a flat.
Without web hosting, your website would only exist on your own computer. Your customers could not share it, and it wouldn’t be available on Google. When they visit your website address, a customer is seeing the result of their browser downloading the files hosted on the server you’ve paid for hosting with.
There are six different types of hosting in total:
- Shared hosting – An affordable option where your site is stored on the same server as lots of other websites. All of these domains share the same server resources, which means costs are low but can sometimes slow down if the other sites you’re sharing with have a surge in users.
- Virtual private servers – VPS offers more control over your server than a shared server, but not as much as a dedicated one. It allows each site to be hosted in its own space on a server – allowing you to have more customisation options and storage spikes, but are still affected by spikes in users.
- Dedicated server hosting – this is when a server is exclusively rented to you and your website, giving you full ownership and full admin access. However, it can be an expensive solution and one not needed for smaller sites. The installation and server management are technical and require expertise to maintain.
- Cloud hosting – an increasingly popular thing, cloud hosting allows you to leverage the power of multiple computers sharing resources. This means you can scale from a low resource site to a high one as needed.
- Managed hosting – managed hosting involved the technical side of server management. You’ll get day-to-day management of the server hardware, applications and even site functionality. For businesses who need accountability when outages and issues occur and support to rectify them, this is perfect.
- Colocation – Place your kit in a data centre and rent the space. With colocation, you won’t receive any support for any of the technical elements.
Which is best for you will depend on your business. Small businesses can sometimes make do with a shared hosting package – but for those who want more peace of mind and support, managed hosting is superior.
Remember, those are only types of hosting. You still need to choose who your host will be. Like any business partnership, you want this to be a company you can trust to support you whenever things go wrong. That’s the entire reason we have our packages.
Web hosting vs domain
To have a customer-facing website, you need a domain name AND a hosting package.
A domain name itself isn’t a hosting package. A domain name is stored on a domain host and redirects users to wherever the web hosting is located. Think of it like a PO box, it’s what the user sees when navigating to your website or sending you an email. It is possible to have a domain host and web host who are different from one another.
But to keep things simple, most businesses are better off combining both domain and web hosting into a package so they can get the address they want and the hosting they need from the same provider.
WordPress, one of the most popular web platforms available, offers its own hosting. However, this hosting is minimal and tied to specific monthly tiers and limited customisation. Instead, most businesses opt to take WordPress’ software elsewhere and host it on different hosting platforms.
It’s easy to do, as the WordPress framework is so commonly used for websites. Many hosting companies like ours provide dedicated WordPress hosting that works with WordPress installations. An independent host like ours is typically a better alternative to WordPress’ own, as it allows for more customisation and flexibility.
Best web hosting
Ultimately the best web hosting provider and package for your business depend on you and your business needs.
What we mean by this is that a small one-man-band requires less than a larger corporation. A web host also has to be able to scale to match your own growth. To understand what you’re going to need, you need a clear idea of what kind of website you want, how many customers you hope to attract and your growth plans.
But remember: it’s all about relationships. Choose a hosting provider who will be available to you, helpful when you have issues or questions and most importantly, has a demonstrable track record.
Luckily for you, we know a provider who just might be perfect. Guess who? Get in touch.