Welcome to the Internet, where you can have your own website up and running in a matter of hours. You’re on your way to becoming a celebrity like Perez Hilton or Justin Bieber. Your company will go global, and all you need is to put up a few pages and the visitors and the money start rolling in, right? Of course, before you can do any of that, you need a host for your website.
Web hosting in a nutshell
A host is the company that owns the servers where your website files actually sit, and when people access your domain name, they’re able to see your pages, images and forms. If you or your designer has created files, you’ll need to upload them with a browser-based file manager or file transfer protocol client. This process is easy and it allows you to access files or update your website from any location.
Web hosting and domain names are related but not the same thing. Just because you have a host doesn’t mean that your website has a domain name. Many hosts allow you to purchase a new domain during the signup process, but you can also purchase your domain name through a third-party registrar. When you do this, you’ll have to enter the name servers that your host provides you into the name server fields in your registrar’s control panel. Once your domain propagates, files located on your host’s servers show up when visitors head to it.
Types of Web hosting
In 2013, more hosting options exist than ever before. While this ultimately means lower prices, it’s also confusing, so here’s a breakdown for you.
— Shared: This type of hosting combines multiple accounts on a single server. Your website is on the same hard drive as other customers of your host. While it’s by far the cheapest — you can pay less than $5 per month — you might see downtime or lag when someone else’s website is seeing peak traffic. Furthermore, your host will be unlikely to install specific software on the server, and your website could become vulnerable if a hacker gets ahold of other customer’s accounts.
— Dedicated: When you need your own server, dedicated hosting is one answer. You’ll pay a premium to be the only customer on the server, and this includes more hard drive capacity and bandwidth. Your sites won’t share the processor either. However, unmanaged dedicated hosts require you to keep up with software on the server.
— VPS: Virtual private servers are similar to shared servers. While it appears that you control an entire server, it’s actually a virtually-created image. You’ve got more potions than shared hosting, and it’s easier for your needs to expand than a dedicated server. VPS hosting is often cheaper, too.
— Cloud: Cloud hosting is all the rage, and it builds off of virtualization, so several servers power the hosting; however, you don’t wind up with a single server image for your own use. Instead, you share pooled resources with other consumers in a way that’s hardware- and cost-efficient.
The type of site and your potential for growth will help you decide between hosting options.