All About Hosting
In the latest of our beginners guides we look at Web Hosting and why you should see it is an important part of your business tool-kit.
What is Hosting?
To allow anyone to see your website you need to publish it with a hosting provider. Publishing involves uploading the files and images that make up your site to a web server. When someone then types in your web address (www.yourname.co.uk) the internet then connects to the server which contains your files and images then sends that information back to their computer.
A hosting provider will basically sell you space on their servers to store the files and images that make up your website.
How does the internet know where my website is?
Everything that is connected to the internet … from your mobile phone to the servers that store website … has an IP address. IP addresses allow the location of billions of digital devices that are connected to the Internet to be pinpointed and differentiated from other devices. In the same way that you need someone else’s address to send them a letter, a computer needs an IP address to communicate with another device.
An IP address looks something like this: 188.8.131.52. But you wouldn’t expect someone to type that is to reach your website … which is where Domain Name Servers come in. They are the internet’s equivalent of a phone book. They maintain a directory of domain names (www.yourname.co.uk) and translate them to IP addresses. When someone types in www.yourname.co.uk they are then connected to a Domain Name Server which just looks up the IP Address and connects them to where your website is stored. Their computer or mobile phone will then request the files and images to be displayed.
Types of Hosting
Your site is placed on a server with other websites. Your website shares the server’s resources with these other websites.
- Low Cost – you can pay as little as £2 per month
- Ideal for small businesses
- All technical issues taken care of by the web hosting company
- Can be prone to speed issues if other web sites on the server are using resources
- Can present security issues
- Quality of technical support can be hit and miss
- Limited to the software that the hosting provider supports
This is technically both shared and dedicated! With VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting your website will sit on a server with other websites but a portion of the servers resources will be dedicated to your site.
- Cost will start at about £15 per month
- Provides better performance that shared hosting
- Most technical issues will be taken care of by the web hosting company
- More control and flexibility than provided with shared hosting
- More expensive than shared hosting
- Need to be sure that the hosting company has allocated the resources as per your agreement
Basically the opposite of shared hosting. Your website sits on it’s own dedicated server and so does not share it’s resources with any other website.
- Speed and capacity. Provides the ability to efficiently manage large amounts of traffic without interruption.
- Security features can be implemented to your exact needs
- More flexibility in server specification and software installation
- Can be expensive … a minimum around £100 per month.
- A decent understanding of server administration is required (although this can obviously be outsourced).
Which is best for me?
Obviously the type of hosting you opt for will depend on you, your budget and the requirements and expectations of your website.
- If you can barely turn on your computer without looking at the manual then you won’t want to be managing a dedicated server.
- If you have a budget of £10 per month then you will need to go for shared hosting.
- If you envisage your site getting a few visits a day then it would not be worth shelling out £100 per months for a dedicated server. Conversely if your website is getting hundreds and hundreds of visits per day then shared hosting would not be the best choice.
- If you maintain sensitive client information on your website then a shared hosting service would probably be inappropriate.
If you are getting onto the internet for the fist time then in 9 out of 10 cases shared hosting is probably the option to go for. Even if you find that it is not the right choice you will not have spent a fortune finding that out and it should be fairly simple to upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server.
Why is hosting important for my business?
Apart from anything else you need web hosting to allow potential customers to visit your website!
As we discussed above the hosting you go for depends very much on you, your business and your website.
Choosing the wrong web hosting company can mean poor performance, your website being unavailable or slow and endless time spent waiting to get through to the support team or waiting days for a response from a ticket you raised.
Choose the right hosting and, like a good waiter, you will not notice it is there!
How to buy a Web Hosting
Companies like GoDaddy, 123-Reg and Freezone all offer the facility to host your website in Shared, VPS or Dedicated environments. When you register your domain name the company will undoubtedly try and upsell hosting as well.
Read the reviews and do your research. Websites like this one provide reviews and recommendations for where to host your website www.top10bestwebsitehosting.co.uk.
If you are looking to get your business onto the internet or are fed up with the service you are getting from your current provider then please get in touch. We would be delighted to discuss your requirements and let you know how we can help.