Have you ever wondered how a website is able to be seen on the internet? Many people don’t realize that there’s a lot that goes into even getting your website online, but this week we’ll learn a lot about web hosting and how to set it up. This post is a part of our series, The Beginner’s Guide To Creating A WordPress Website.
Last week we talked about what a website domain is, how to purchase and register your domain name, and a few key tips along the way. This week we’ll pick up where we left off and explain step-by-step how to setup your web hosting, how to connect your domain to your new host, and what you’ll need to know throughout the whole process.
So what is website hosting anyways?
When your website is on the Internet, it has to have a place to live. Web hosting is how websites and all of the website’s files are able to be viewed through the Internet around the world.
Another way to think about it is your website is like a house. The server that your site lives on is like a street block. Multiple websites live on the same server, so it saves space and gives you a more affordable price.
If you bought a home on 10 acres and no one else lived on those acres besides you, that’s more expensive. That’s the same as paying for dedicated hosting, where only your website lives on a single server (but it’s more expensive and more helpful for larger companies and organizations).
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s discuss what your options are when searching for a great website host. We’ll also go over the different Content Management Systems and why they’re important to review.
What do you need to know before picking a website hosting service?
It’s important to understand these crucial details before picking your website hosting plan. There are many different options, but that also means you can find the plan that fits your website needs best.
Before picking your hosting plan, you should evaluate what you need your website for. A few questions to ask yourself include:
- Do I want to opt for a higher price for better speed, storage, and security or am I looking at budget friendly hosting?
- How comfortable am I with creating a website and putting in the work to make it functional and helpful to others?
- Do I need help completing the tasks required to prevent legal consequences and make my site compliant.
- Am I comfortable not owning my website content and files?
- Do I already have a website with a large amount of traffic (people coming to your website) or do I already have a large following online?
Although these can be some pretty tough questions to answer, they’re important to review before you sign up with a hosting provider.
You should also stay aware of every plan you’re signing up for. Different hosting providers may offer a low price when you first sign up, but can drastically increase your monthly or annual price after the discounted period.
Beware of hosting providers that promise unlimited hosting. If you are planning on building a large website or using a lot of storage space and bandwidth, this can be a bigger problem than if you had a small website. Every website hosting provider is different, but if you reach your limit on space or bandwidth they can throttle your speed (making your website slow down) or cut off any additional use completely.
Doing your research is crucial when choosing a web hosting provider. If you’re not sure of a certain provider – Google it. Doing just a small amount of research can pay off in the long run (and prevent shady providers from hurting your website).
Now that you’ve evaluated a few of your needs, we’ll jump into the types of web hosting available.
What are the types of website hosting?
Since we’ve already looked at a couple questions above, it will make it much easier to pick the type of web hosting best for you. Remember you can always change your hosting service as your website grows. Choosing a hosting plan that fits your CURRENT website needs is crucial to your website’s future success.
The types of website hosting that are available currently include:
1. Shared Hosting
Shared web hosting is often the most affordable and is widely offered across almost every hosting provider. However, the great pricing isn’t always the best option for every website.
When you opt for a Shared Hosting plan you’re sharing a server with MANY different websites. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you plan on having low traffic to your website, but if you suddenly go viral or your site is launched to the top of Google – you’re going to receive a spike in traffic.
However, if you’re a small business or plan on creating a relatively small website to fit your needs – Shared Hosting could be a great option for you. Most Shared Hosting plans include helpful tools for beginners like WordPress installations, the ability to email clients, website builders and more.
2. Virtual Private Server Hosting (VPS)
A Virtual Private Server is the next step up from a Shared Hosting plan. It’s best used when you need more control over your server and technical details, but you don’t need a dedicated server.
With a VPS hosting plan, you can have more customization options and access to more storage, but you’re still sharing a physical server with other sites. This means while you’re still get more control, your site could ultimately be effected if one of the other websites has a spike in traffic (making your site slower or possibly go down).
Many business owners opt for a Shared or VPS Hosting service, but it’s important to keep in mind the risks and still evaluate your expectations for traffic and other website needs.
3. Dedicated Server Hosting
Dedicated Server Hosting means your website lives on it’s own server that your hosting provider rents to you. By having a Dedicated Server, websites with more traffic or more storage needs have unlimited access to their server and all that comes with it.
However, this type of website hosting is also the most expensive and includes more technical options than you would have with any other type of hosting. We generally don’t recommend opting for a Dedicated Server unless you plan on having a large website with high traffic.
Overall, if you need absolute control over your server or would like to secure the best speed and security for your large website – you might want to consider investing in a Dedicated Server.
4. Cloud Hosting
Cloud Hosting has been around for quite a while, but it’s still relatively new to most people. No, your website isn’t floating up in an actual cloud, but it is stored on multiple servers that are connected through a network.
This helps ensure your website never goes down due to a single server failure and it gives website owners the option to use the server resources they need similar to a utility. Basically, you pay for what you need, when you need it.
It also gives you the option to scale your website and hosting needs over time. Instead of switching plans and changing providers, you just pay more when you need more. This can be a valuable option if you don’t necessarily want all the resources that comes with a Dedicated Server, but you still want to expand your website and hosting needs.
Cloud Hosting does have a downside however as it is hosted through networks. If there was a massive security breach into the network your site is hosted on, you’re business’ data and website files could be exposed to hackers.
As with every hosting option, there are pros and cons. If you need a scalable, cost-effective, and high performance hosting service, then Cloud Hosting might be for you.
5. Managed Hosting
Managed Hosting is widely offered, just like Shared Hosting, from multiple hosting providers. This type of website hosting allows your provider to manage the more technical aspects of your hosting plan such as hardware and software setup, maintenance, updates and monitoring, and much more.
Your provider will ultimately monitor and manage your hosting for you on a day to day basis. If you’re interested in using a Managed Hosting service, make sure you check the fine print and the details included with each plan.
As we’ve discussed earlier, each hosting plan from different providers all have their own unique qualities. Doing your research before jumping into a plan can save you a lot of time and heartache in the future when your website is actually online.
6. WordPress Hosting
WordPress Hosting is a great option if you’re planning on using the most largely used Content Management System (CMS) to create your website.
Although you do not need to purchase WordPress Hosting to host a WordPress website, it does help optimize your site’s performance and strengthens its security needs.
This is helpful because on its own WordPress has many different plugins and add-ons that allow you to optimize your website, secure it, and boost performance. However, you will have to set them up yourself if you don’t have a WordPress hosting plan.
There are two different types of web hosting plans for WordPress, Shared WordPress Hosting and Managed WordPress hosting.
Similar to a normal Shared Hosting plan, a Shared WordPress Hosting plan means your WordPress website we’ll share a server with other websites. For business owners who are looking for a low entry cost to getting their site setup, this might be the best option.
A Managed WordPress Hosting plan just lets your hosting provider manage the technical aspects of your wordpress website’s hosting. They’ll update, manage, and monitor your server to help you stay online and optimize performance.
With WordPress being the most used CMS on the Internet, having a website hosting plan dedicated to managing its needs is ideal for any website.
6. Ecommerce Hosting
Last, but certainly not least, there is the option of having ecommerce specific website hosting. Similar to the WordPress hosting plans in a way, the ecommerce hosting focuses on optimizing your server so you can sell products online. They also provide tools that helps you manage your ecommerce website better.
If your site is going to ONLY be selling products online, this would be an option that you should consider. However, if you’re planning on doing multiple things on your website other than selling products (blogging, providing information about services, and additional pages), then there may be a better hosting plan for your specific website’s needs.
What are the best website hosting providers for my business?
While we can’t help you pick the exact web host that would work best for your business, we can help give you the most reliable, comprehensive options to choose from. There are several companies to choose from and some are better than others, but here are a couple to look into for your web hosting needs.
You’ve probably noticed that we didn’t include any website builders (Wix, Squarespace, etc) on this list. The reason why is simple, while website builders are great for drag and drop design functionality – they do NOT let you have ownership of ANY of your website content, files, etc. So if anything happened in the future (drop in payment or switching services), you will have to completely rebuild from scratch. If you’re in need of a simple way to create your website, WordPress gives you the same easy design functionality without holding your content hostage.
There are several reviews online for each of the services listed above, so I encourage you to search on Google, check out their services, and do your research so you’re getting the best plan for your needs. Here are a few reviews we’ve found from reputable sources.
How to setup your website hosting (we’re using Bluehost, but you can choose your own)
To get started, we’ll go to the homepage of Bluehost and click on get started. From there you’ll be presented with two options – purchase a new domain name or transfer an existing domain name.
If you previously purchased your domain name elsewhere, Bluehost makes it easy with a few extra steps to transfer it over to them. If you register a domain name with Bluehost, they will automatically add it to your hosting service (and it’s free with your hosting plan).
As you proceed to the next step, Bluehost will have you create an account and select the details of the plan you’re purchasing. They offer a Google Account sign in option, so if you’d rather link your Bluehost account to a Google account – they make it really simple.
As you scroll down the page, there are several important decisions you’ll need to make.
- First, you’ll need to decide which website hosting plan you’d like to register for. Normally, Shared Hosting plans are set with periods of 12 months, 24 months, and 36 months. Depending on your website and budget needs – you’ll need to look at the monthly price and the total price. The longer plan you select, the better monthly price Bluehost will give you. For example, the introductory price you most likely saw on the homepage is dependent on signing up for a 36-month service.
- Once you’ve selected the term you’d like to purchase, you’ll scroll down to find a few additional options. While some of these may be helpful in specific circumstances, you do not have to purchase all of these. We do recommend however that you opt for the Domain Privacy service.
- This allows Bluehost to keep your domain information private, so scammers and other shady characters do not have access to the personal information used when you registered your domain. By having access to your name, address, email address and phone number, they can use that to contact you with scams and could also use it to hack into your account.
Once, you’ve selected the services and options that best fit your needs, you’ll need to enter payment information, agree to their terms of service, and submit your registration.
Congratulations! You’ve officially signed up and created your hosting account that you can now log into and begin setting up your website.
If you need more assistance with Bluehost, they also offer an amazing informational blog that walks their customers through many of their services and more.
Next week we’re going to do a deep dive into WordPress so you can get started on your actual website. Make sure you subscribe to get the latest update from Azuma, and share this post so others can follow along too!
If you have additional questions – let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you guys, so we can better assist you in everything websites. Have a great weekend San Angelo!