Beginners guide to web hosting
In this Beginners guide to web hosting I’m going to go through some basic steps on what Hosting is all about, what you should expect from your webhost, how to get hosting and I will also introduce you to our long-time hosting buddy (not affiliated, in case you were wondering).
Hosting sounds nice, right? Hosting a party, hosting some guests, quite cosy! But when it comes to hosting your website, it immediately gets a bit more complicated. Or so we think.
But it doesn’t have to be that complicated, I promise.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. the price for you remains the same.
So let’s get started.
Your guide to web hosting?
If you have an idea for business, and you’d like the whole world to know about it, you need to put it online. Simple.
But in order to have a website on the fabulous World Wide Web, you need a place for it to call home. In other words, you need a host.
Web hosting provides the needed service and technology for all websites to be visible on the internet.
How it works is that all websites are stored on servers, which are kind of like computers, and when someone types in the domain name of your website, their computer will connect to the correct servers, dig up your website files (text, images etc), and your website will be shown.
Magical, right! Yes, it kind of is.
So this means that before you can set up your website, you will need to set up hosting as well.
Can you set up a website without hosting?
If you really don’t want to set up hosting, there are few options.
You could go with Squarespace, which is a hosted website builder, meaning that it comes with templates that you can use to build up your website, as well as hosting. Instead of purchasing hosting, domain and Worpress theme, you will pay a monthly fee to Squarespace and they take care of everything for you.
Personally I use WordPress (+ separate hosting) because it’s much more flexible and provides more options in general, but there are ravings fans on both sides.
You can read more on this here: WordPress vs. Squarespace – Which platform to choose for your online business.
Web hosting and domain hosting, what is the difference?
Wait, but what is the difference between web hosting and domain hosting then?
Well, domain is simply the www -address of your website. And in order to have your own address, you have to reserve a domain, which you can do with a domain registrar.
Nowadays most hosting companies also offer this option, and they will reserve the domain for you at the same time as you register for a hosting plan (free or at small costs).
So yes, you do need both, and you could get them separately, or at the same time.
For instance, for hosting we use DreamHost already for +10 years for our various websites and businesses. When signing up a new account with DreamHost you can also easily reserve a domain in the same process.
Otherwise you can also reserve a domain via another provider, reserve hosting via DreamHost or another provider, and connect the two later on.
It used to be considered somewhat risky to have your domains also registered at your hosting company (you know, all of your eggs in one basket), but if you do this with a reputable hosting provider, it’s fine.
Registering a domain
We cannot have a guide to web hosting without talking about domains.
As all of the domain names are completely unique, I would recommend first checking whether your desired domain name is available.
Because if it isn’t, you may have to spend some time brainstorming for other possible names that would fit your business. You can use providers like GoDaddy to play with ideas and see what kind of domains would be available.
Within domains you have different classes, or hierarchies.
There are Top Level Domains (TLD), which are the most popular ones, such as .com or .net. Some top level domains, like .co.uk are only reserved for citizens of a specific country, and the registration and the laws applied are based on that country.
My home country Finland has its own extension .fi (as do most countries), and the domain registration is governed by the local online registration.
These are called country code top level domains. For reserving a .fi domain I would have to go through the local public register for these domains, and connect it with a hosting later on.
What to expect from your web hosting provider?
The Web hosting provider will handle things like server maintenance work, back-ups, and disaster recoveries. But this is not all that hosting providers can do for you.
Additionally, you can take care of the domain registration through them, some offer website builder options, and email hosting to get those professional emails with your domain name.
Your Hosting provider is kind of like the general maintenance guy of your website. If everything goes well, and if nothing breaks down, you rarely see the guy.
Only in some rare cases if you need some ‘plumbing done’, they can help you re-set things on the back-end, or help you with other back-end related things.
And by back-end I mean anything that is not related to the actual functioning of your website (which is front-end, the part that customers see).
Different types of hosting
There are different types of hosting offered to choose from.
The best option for you depends on what type of business you have, and what type of business you are planning to have in some time. There is Shared hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting, Dedicated Server Hosting and Cloud Hosting.
Let’s go through them briefly:
Shared Hosting literally means that you share a hosting with others on the same server.
This makes the costs also lower, and if you just want a regular website with standard features on it, and you don’t have millions of traffic (yet), this is a good option to go with. The cons are that due to its shared nature it is less flexible when it comes to handling large spikes in traffic.
Virtual Private Server hosting works so, that it divides the original server into smaller, virtual servers.
This ensures that every website will be hosted on their own dedicated server, although the main server is shared. This option is usually a little bit more expensive than Shared hosting, but if you need more control at the server level, but don’t want to invest in your own server, this is a great medium option.
Dedicated server hosting is what it says, dedicated to you.
With this option you rent an entire server, so there is nothing shared anymore, hence you have full control. This comes with a higher price, and good for you if you are looking at maximum performance for your site (mainly for large corporates).
Cloud hosting is hosting by a group of servers working together, which makes it more flexible and unaffected by higher traffic peaks for example.
If you are starting out as an entrepreneur or a solo-preneur, Shared hosting will be sufficient for you. You can always upgrade your hosting plans as you grow, if it would be needed.
Your guide on how to get started with web hosting
By now you should have a decent idea about what is hosting and what to expect from your hosting provider.
If you would like to get started with hosting, I would recommend to set up a DreamHost account.
You can of course also choose any other hosting provider you feel most comfoateble with.
I’m recomending DreamHost because we have +10 years experience with them, and it is a solid host for WordPress platform, meaning that their hosting platforms are optimized for WordPress.
DreamHost also comes with an easy one-click installation where you can install WordPress easily on your site during the set-up process, and one domain adress is free.
The main thinig to remember is this:
Hosting is not as scary or complicated as it may sound! It will be good for you to know the foundation of your site when going into business and building your online empire.
I hope this guide to web hosting was useful, and if you need more information or resources, you’ll know where to find me!
Need help with your website?
Contact me and let’s work together!
Hi there, I’m Kaisa!
I’m your coach, friend and webdesigner when you want to get serious about your Passion project and make it into a business with a beautiful online presence.
I’ll help you with tech, design and courage. Contact me and we’ll create some magic for your Passion Business!
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