Choosing the right web host is crucial in developing a polished, reliable, and effective website—but if you don’t know much about hosting you may find this task to be a bit of a challenge. The important thing to remember when choosing the right plan for you is to stick to the basics.
We'll cover frequently asked questions about web hosting in this guide.
How Does Web Hosting Work?
When trying to define web hosting, it’s important you understand how the Internet works. Servers that are connected to the Internet offer access to the websites they store, or host. When seen in this light, a web host is just what the term indicates: It is a service that hosts your website on a server that links it to the Internet. In doing so, it allows Internet users access to your website.
The market is packed with thousands of web hosting companies, each offering different services to their users. When choosing the right web host, it’s important you compare the services offered and pick the one that is best in line with the goals you have for your website.
Through web hosting, you store your website on a server. Although, technically, a company possesses the website, you are still able to access it much in the same way that you can visit a storage company and access your belongings.The major difference between web hosting and the storage company analogy is the fact that web hosting goes a bit above and beyond what a storage company can provide.
Instead of simply loading your website to the server, web hosts connect their servers to the Internet. In this way, both you and Internet users (i.e. potential consumers looking for information about your company or brand) have access to your website. While your access is different, as it allows you to alter the content of the website, anyone using the Internet can see the website you create.
How to Choose a Web Host?
Typically, web hosts provide similar services—most of which go above and beyond simply offering storage for your website and connecting it to the Internet. When shopping around for a web hosting package, it’s important you inquire about the following basic offerings, which can make a strong impact on the success of your website.
- Disk Space: The amount of disk space a web host offers will determine how much storage you are allotted for your website. If you’re at uploading a lot of graphics, videos, and other large files to your website you may need a larger amount of disk space than if your website is more text-based.
- Bandwidth: Every time an Internet user visits your website they use bandwidth. As such, the amount of bandwidth you have each month can directly impact the number of visits your website can have. For this reason, it’s important to keep an eye on how many visitors your website is getting, and determine how many are expected, to choose the right bandwidth.
- Email Accounts: The number of email accounts your web host provides is important to know, especially if you’re looking to expand your organization in the future. For example, consider a small business owner. The owner sets up a website and only needs three email addresses initially: one for him, one for his employee, and a general information account. But in the first two years, the owner hires ten more employees. If the web hosting he has chosen does not allow these added email addresses then the owner may need to change hosts.
- Support: Technical support is imperative in a quality web host. Glitches in the website or server can, and do, occur at every time of day. For this reason, it is crucial that the web host you choose offers round the clock technical support. Furthermore, make sure that the host offers quality support you can rely upon.
- Server Type: Not all servers are the same. In fact, different servers are better suited for different kinds of data. You may have the option to hire a Windows server or a Linux server. Ask the web hosts you are considering what kind of servers they offer and what these servers are best suited for. Then choose one that matches the needs of your website.
- Backups: Technical catastrophes happen. Servers crash, data is lost, and if you have not backed up your data then you are out of luck. For this reason, backups are tremendously important. Only do business with a web host that offers a regular backup solution. Remember that offsite backups are the best option.
By keeping these basics in mind, you can choose the web hosting solution that best fits the needs of your website. Remember that you may not find a web host that provides the optimal solution for each of the above listed needs, so it is important to analyze your website’s requirements and determine which of these needs are most important.
Should You Buy Cheap Web Hosting With Free Domain Name?
Many server providers will give you the option to buy domain names and web hosting together. While this may seem to be a convenient solution to your website’s needs, this is something that you definitely want to stay away from. Even if they offer free web hosting with domain purchase, or even free domain registration and web hosting. This simply isn’t a good idea.
Why Not Bundle Your Hosting and Domain Registration?
Common sense tells you that bundling these services is the best deal, right? You get all of the services you need from one place, which is extremely convenient—especially if you are not experienced in running your own website. Additionally, you might even get a more affordable price, making this option more cost-effective. But remember: Cheap web hosting with free domain name is not worth it.
While your domain name will probably remain the same for the life of your website, chances are that you will, eventually, want to look into switching hosts. You may find that your current provider doesn’t offer the level of support you need, or that your website needs more bandwidth to handle increased traffic. Whatever the reason, changing hosts is a relatively common activity. But if you bundle your website’s hosting and domain registration it may not be an option for you.
Switching hosts can be a pain. Although changing providers is common, the company you initially selected to host your website can make it difficult. You do not want any of these obstacles to interfere with the smooth transition of your website from one service provider to another. In fact, if your website is connected with your business, these difficulties could end up costing you in lost sales.
Furthermore, web hosts are not registrars. They cannot register your domain for you; they must register your domain through an official registration company, such as GoDaddy.com. Not only could they be charging you more for this service than it would cost if you did it yourself, you cannot be certain that the registration process was completed properly. It is important to register your website on your own to ensure that you have official ownership of the domain you have chosen.
The Bottom Line
When all is said and done, it is important to remember that, though inconvenient now, securing domain registration and web hosting from two different providers can prevent a lot of hassle in the future.
Do You Need Fast Web Hosting for SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a writing and coding process that strives to improve Internet search rankings and enhance the visibility of your website. SEO is a powerful marketing tool that most business websites use to their advantage.
But do you need fast web hosting to get high rankings?
Google and other popular search engines use constantly changing their algorithms when creating search engine results pages (SERPs). One of the factors Google considers when creating these results is speed.
This question can easily be changed to read, “How long do users have to wait for this page to load?”
The goal of any search engine is to provide the best results possible, which means that they all take user experience into consideration when ranking websites. While this factor is weighted considerably less than other variables, as explained by Matt Cutts of Google, it is important to do everything possible to improve user experience.
Benefits of Faster Hosting
When combined with a well-developed SEO strategy, faster hosting has the potential to contribute to improved search result rankings.
But the surge in user friendliness is just as valuable.
I know I don’t like to wait for a page to load. If it takes more than a few seconds, I usually back out and pick another site to try from the list.
So instead of having visitors bounce from the site because they don’t want to wait for it to load, visitors can quickly find the information they’re looking for while helping strengthen your search ranking by staying on the page.
Overall, faster hosting will create a better website and while it can help you get slightly higher rankings, it’s far better to focus on your visitors experience when it comes to load times of your site.
Linux vs Windows Hosting?
There was a time when deciding between a Linux web host server and a Windows web host server was a major deal; however, today, the differences between the two have been minimized. As a result, the choice is a bit easier than it was in years past.
What are Linux Web Hosting Services?
Linux web site hosting providers are the most popular. Affordable and easy to manage, the Linux operating system is a great choice for anyone who does not know which server to pick. With the least amount of upkeep, the Linux server for web hosting is preferred by many website owners.
- This kind of server offers FTP, telnet, and SSH access, whereas Windows web hosts only offer FTP. For this reason, files can be transferred from the hard drive to the server in more than one way. For website owners who are proficient in Unix commands, telnet and SSH access may be preferred.
- A Linux server is more likely to offer CGI, Perl, and PHP access, which is important when programming forms.
- When it comes to databases, Linux servers typically use mySQL.
- Security issues arise in Linux and Windows servers, although some users are adamant that Linux servers suffer less from this issue. The trick here is to secure a host that offers good administration, regardless of the operating system you choose.
Windows Web Hosting Services
Although highly popular, Windows servers are used less often than their Linux counterparts; however, these hosting services offer a high degree of support. This is the major reason that so many website owners rely upon them.
- FrontPage extensions are primarily offered by Windows-based hosting providers.
- GGI and Perl access can be used with a Windows server, but they are more common on Linux systems.
- ASP is commonly used on these servers, as well as ColdFusion.
- Access, a popular database program, is only available with Windows website hosting providers.
- Windows servers are often said to experience more security breaches than Linux servers; however, as noted above, proper administration is the key in maintaining security no matter which operating system the server uses.
The bottom line is that the choice between Windows and Linux servers is not much of an issue. Both of these operating systems provide similar benefits to users. In fact, system compatibility and the other features offered by the web host are the two things that should influence this decision. By choosing your website’s host based on the other features it provides, you can secure a more positive experience for your site’s visitors while also making it easier to run your website.
What’s cPanel Hosting?
Once you’ve secured your domain and chosen your web host, it’s time to start managing your site. But how are you going to access your website? Where do you go to add email addresses, change your site’s content, or see how much bandwidth your account is using? For many websites, the Unix-based cPanel is the portal through which you will control all aspects of your account.
How to Use cPanel
With a graphic interface and easy to navigate design, cPanel is relatively simple. This control panel is often implemented through WebHost Manager, also called WHM. This tool provides access to administrative control over your server. Through these different programs, you can add domains to your account, change features pertaining to your website’s hosting, and carry out necessary system maintenance.
cPanel login is simple once you create your account. Your web host provider should be able to walk you through the process, which may vary from one host to another.
Once you have your account set up and are ready to start using your cPanel, you can check out the cPanel demo at www.cpanelguide.net. This website provides an interactive example of cPanel hosting, which allows you to explore all of the different features of the control panel without having to make changes to your own account.
Through this control panel, you can manage several security features on your own; however, the security of the server itself is highly impacted by the quality of administration that the web host offers. As such, it is important to choose a provider that is capable of a high level of administration.
After securing your domain, hiring a web host, installing cPanel, and setting up your website, odds are you will want to add to or change the content you have created. Additionally, you may want to add new content or features, such as a blog, forum, shopping cart, or gallery. In this case, Fantastico is the tool to which you may want to turn.
Why Use Fantastico?
The Fantastico installer allows you to add over 50 scripts to your website. Each of these scripts can create a new feature on the site, such as those listed above. Essentially, these scripts allow you to easily—and quickly—change what your website has to offer without having to personally input each and every code. This is invaluable for website owners who either do not know how to write scripts or do not have the time to do so manually.
While it is certainly possible to update your website without the help of Fantastico, this tool makes the task much easier. In fact, Fantastico De Luxe is considered the premier automatic script installer for cPanel users. You see, through this tool, you can install content management systems (CMSs) and other features in a fraction of the time it would take you to do so manually.
On Which Servers Is Fantastico Available?
Fantastico is available on all Linux servers; however, it is not available on servers that run the Windows operating system. For this reason, you may consider how valuable the convenience afforded by this script library is when choosing your web host.
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