Hosting My Website, A Beginner Guide
If you have struggled with the issue; where should I be hosting my website, you are not alone. If you are just starting out, finding out what type of hosting you need is daunting. There are
free hosting providers
shared hosting accounts
Virtual Private Servers
dedicated server providers.
A new option is also virtual private servers which only a handful of providers offer at this time.
Free Web Hosting Providers
These types of hosts can get you started for free. But would you want your visitors to see you are using a free host with ads on your page? A shared hosting provider will be a better option since you will not have to show ads on your site. However, if you have any decent amount of space requirements, streaming needs, mailing of your newsletter, or just are expecting a lot of traffic and visitors to your site, this may not be the best option for you. Very often, shared hosting accounts have limited resources. You will not find out until your site is temporarily suspended due to high resource use. You will then need to upgrade to at least a VPS hosting account. This can cause downtime, stress, and anxiety about when your site or business will be back up online.
Virtual Private Servers
The next step would be a Virtual Private Server (VPS). These hosting accounts come with more resources. A web host provider will divide up a dedicated server into smaller “virtual” servers and offer those virtual servers to their customers. Each VPS account is a “container” or virtualized. The same is done with shared hosting accounts but have more space and resources. You can still use up all your resources on a VPS too. This results in a very sluggish response and slow loading pages and images. You don’t want your site to be sluggish because visitors are known for being impatient in their busy lives. Hosting providers can even suspend or terminate accounts if they are a resource hog. The only other option after this is to go directly to a dedicated server.
Dedicated server hosting has come down in price a great deal. A dedicated server is like your own computer that is connected to the Internet 24/7. It will have a reliable and fast connection to the Internet that you connect to remotely.
Most dedicated servers run on a free Linux or Unix Operating System or a Microsoft Windows 2008 Standard or 2016. Linux and Unix are free (except Red Hat Enterprise which is more of a service-oriented OS) and Microsoft Windows has a license fee. Many customers like the free OS’s since it lowers their monthly cost. Others prefer the Microsoft Windows OS as it is what they are familiar with. You log into the server via a Remote Desktop Connection (RDP) and literally looks just like your computer’s desktop.
Many customers order what is known as a web-based control panel such as Cpanel and Plesk. There are many other web-based control panels of which there are too many to list here.
Web-Based Control panels
Cpanel and Plesk are the two most popular control panels and are available with shared hosting, VPS, cloud hosting and dedicated server hosting providers. These control panels automate basic administrative tasks and also keep your server secure, but only up to a point. (More on this later.) If you have no experience running a dedicated server, a web-based control panel is a must. Cpanel only works with CentOS and Red Hat Operating Systems, while Plesk also works with Microsoft Windows Standard and Web Edition.
When you think to yourself; where should I be hosting my website, make sure to include tech support to go along with it. It is extremely important to find a web hosting provider that has a lot of support, 24 hours per day 7 days a week. They can help you get started. Better yet, if there is something you do not know how to do they can simply do it for you. You will avoid causing problems on the hosting account if you are not familiar with the hosting environment. Thus, you can also focus on your website or online business and let the hosting provider take care of the technical parts for you.
This does come at an added cost of course. However, avoiding the problems in the first place is better than having to deal with them when they arrive. Having to take action at a moments notice with no forewarning is not a pleasant experience.
Regarding security; this is a very important and often overlooked part of web hosting. Why? Again, many website owners wait for a problem to occur instead of taking precautions and security measures before an incident happens and dealing with the downtime. On a dedicated server for example, if your root password (main password) has been stolen/discovered, the only option is to reload the entire OS!
There are many security options available out there:
Software and hardware firewalls
a web hosting provider’s proprietary security software and “hardening” of the server
This is vital in a dedicated server hosting environment as you are responsible for securing your server, just like you would on your own personal computer, right? Your issue on hosting my website should always involve security.
Another often overlooked feature is server backups. Hosting my website has to involve backups. Hardware can and will fail at some point in time because of the constant use and simply heat from running 24 hours a day (unlike a personal computer). Thus, data needs to be backed up and protected. Heat is one of the server’s worst enemies regarding reliability and operating costs. This is why many dedicated server hosting providers like to run Central Processing Units (CPU’s) that use as little energy as possible. This is because of the running costs involved.
A secondary hard drive is an inexpensive way to backup your data. An off-server backup plan is even better since if your server or VPS gets hacked you have an extra level of protection via a password protected off-server backup plan. Shared hosting providers should have backups in place already. In addition, strong security software and hardware to prevent anything bad from happening to your data should be in place.
Hosting my website should be an issue you can handle. Finding the cheapest web hosting provider is the easy part. Finding a reliable, secure and established provider with a proven network uptime record and good customer reviews is the harder part.