What Type of Web Hosting Do I Need?
Web hosting – any type of web hosting – will accomplish one goal. It will let you create content that can be stored on a server and shared with online users. But there are different kinds of web hosting you can use to accomplish that goal: free hosting, shared hosting, VPS, and dedicated servers, and the one you choose might affect how your website runs and operates. So how do you know which one to choose?
Free web hosting
Free web hosting has gotten a bit of a bad rap lately, because it will includes ads on your site and lacks certain security features. However, free web hosting can be a great way for anybody to start dabbling in the world of websites, as it can familiarize you with basic HTML, publishing online, SEO, and creating dynamic content. If you’re going to be using a website for professional reasons, you’ll want to move from free hosting to a paid option at some point in the future, but it’s a great starting point. And for those that just want to keep a small personal website or blog, free web hosting can be a great option for the life of the website.
Shared web hosting
Shared web hosting places your website on a server that you’ll share with other website owners. Out of all the paid hosting options, shared hosting is the cheapest but your website will be vulnerable to everything that happens on that server, whether you did it or not. If someone crashes the server with a scripting error, your website could be shut down. And if one of the other websites is seeing a huge jump in traffic, it could slow your website down. Still, shared web hosting can be a great idea for small businesses, or those who want to give their personal website an edge.
Dedicated web hosting
Dedicated hosting gives you an entire server to store your website. That server will be dedicated to your website and yours alone, so you can use as much storage as you want, and not suffer the consequences of anyone else’s actions. Of course with all of these advantages comes some cost, making dedicated web hosting the most expensive option out there. And for those who don’t have any server maintenance experience, managing a dedicated server can be complicated at best, so hiring an IT consultant might be an additional cost that comes with it.
VPS, or a “virtual private server”, combines the world of shared hosting with that of dedicated. A VPS is a shared server that holds multiple websites. However, it’s virtually split up into different sections that each act as a private server. Because of this, web hosts can offer VPS at a more affordable cost than dedicated hosting, but your website won’t feel the effects of others on the same server. For those who need a dedicated server but can’t afford it, or those who are going to make the move to dedicated someday but just aren’t ready, VPS can be a great option.
Before deciding what kind of web hosting you need, you need to first understand the purpose of your website, how big you want it to be, and how severe the consequences would be if it were to ever shut down unexpectedly. Answering those questions will answer the question of what type of web hosting you need.
What Makes a Good Web Host?
Web hosting is just like any other business. There’s the good and the bad, and it isn’t always easy to figure out which one is which. So when you’re out there, searching for a good web host to host your website, how can you tell what makes a good web host?
A little support
Not all support should be free of charge. If you’ve made a major error on your website and need the host’s support to solve a problem that will take a lot of labor and a lot of time, you can expect to be charged for that. However, if your site is running slowly or it’s down and won’t run at all, you shouldn’t be charged for simply putting in a call to your web host. Web hosts, after all, should make their profit from selling quality web hosting, not by talking on the phone.
You can also separate the good web hosts from the bad by testing their support before you actually sign a contract with them. Simply file a ticket with any web host you’re considering and record the amount of time it takes them to respond to it. Also record the quality of the response. Did it specifically address your problem? Or was it a simple automated response such as, “We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.” While these messages are fine, you want to make sure that message is quickly followed up.
Over-selling can be a controversial issue when it comes to web hosting. This is when a web host has sold more resources on one server than that particular server actually has, and some say that you should never use a web host that oversells. However, the chances you’ll find a web host that doesn’t are slim, and truthfully, you shouldn’t try.
This is because overselling isn’t really all that terrible in the world of web hosting and it’s quite a common practice. Say for instance, a web host sells 20GB to every customer. A fraction of those customers would use the maximum 20GB, but the majority would use only a small amount of that. Without overselling however, the web host would have to reserve all of that space for every single customer, even all those not using it. This would result in wasted resources, which is wasted costs for the host, and those costs would inevitably be passed down to the customer. In short, without a bit of overselling, web hosting would be far more expensive than it is today.
The danger lies in web hosts that go too far in overselling their server space and resources, and which results in websites constantly shutting down, not being regularly backed up, or other major problems.
Truthfully, there’s a lot that goes into the making of a good web host. But finding one that will offer the support you need at a price you can afford, and that has the resources available for you is a good start. From there you can determine what web hosts will offer the other features you need.
What is the Difference between Registering a Domain Name and Hosting a Website?
Those who are new to creating a website may hear terms such as domain name and website hosting and become so confused by them that they become intimidated and are turned off of creating a website altogether. It’s easy to see why people become confused; after all, both point to where your website will be on the Internet. But how they do that and the role they play are very different.
A domain name is the address, or the URL, of the website. For example, facebook.com and google.com are both domain names. And while both may have their own datacenters filled with web servers that host their website, those web hosts do not have the domain extension of .com or .org. A domain name is simply the address that will be typed into a browser so that it can then look up what site is attached to that domain name and take you to it.
Website owners can use domain names to their advantage because they can choose one that reinforces the brand, allows visitors to know by the name alone what the website is about, and make the address of the website easy to remember. Web hosts can offer domain names as part of their packages but in most cases, it’s best to use a separate registrar and keep everything separate.
A web host is just that – a company or individual that hosts a website. Hosting refers to renting out space on the web host’s web server. A web server holds websites – either just one or several – and connects the website files to the Internet. This server is what actually allows other people to see your website. Web hosts offer many different plans and the one that’s chosen will depend on what’s needed such as how much space the website needs, how many visitors will be going to the site, and the budget restraints, if any, of the website owner.
Those who are new to the world of building and managing a website are often confused as to whether they need to register a domain name or find a web host first. But it doesn’t really matter. A domain name registrar will sell a domain name to anyone as long as that name is not already in use, even if a website is not ready to be found at that domain just yet.
Likewise, if you find a really great web host and just want to start creating your website right away, you can also do that without already having a domain name registered. However, it is most recommended that a domain name is registered before the website is created. Doing so will give the website creator more direction when it comes to layout, design, and even content, as everything can point back towards that name. And, if you have a name in mind, it’s best to register it before someone else does.
The many terms associated with creating a website can be confusing for those who are new to the process. But the terms domain name and web host should never be intimidating or worse, keep someone from creating a website. These two terms serve two very different functions, and neither is difficult to find and use.
What is SSL and Do You Need It?
A few years ago, when Google changed their algorithms once again, they included SSL into them; giving better ranks to the sites that use it over sites that did not. But just what is SSL? And do website owners really need it? Like most things in building a website, it really depends.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and it’s a type of security technology that creates an encrypted link between a web host’s web server and an individual’s browser. This link allows a user to place personal information on a website and know that the information will be kept private and confidential. After all, who wants to enter their credit card information on a website not knowing whether or not that information will be kept safe?
So the next question is: do website owners need to install SSL?
Many website owners think that they should purchase an SSL certificate, which will provide the SSL on a website or page, simply because it will increase their Google ranking. But there are many things that can affect a page rank and website owners that don’t really need an SSL certificate can use other strategies, such as implementing SEO strategies, to boost their page rank without purchasing an SSL certificate.
Website owners really need to have an SSL certificate if they’re going to be asking visitors for personal information. Websites that sell products and take credit card information to place orders should definitely have an SSL certificate. In these cases the SSL doesn’t necessarily need to be placed on every page of the site but perhaps just the checkout pages or on the store pages.
On the other hand, businesses that only accept PayPal may not need an SSL certificate at all. Because the customer will be taken to the PayPal site to pay, they won’t be paying the business directly and so a certificate may not be necessary.
Sites that offer memberships might also want to take the time to install an SSL certificate, because members will have to provide at least some personal information in order to activate their membership. Even when only an email address is provided, it’s still personal information and still needs to be protected. In fact, any time a person has to fill out a form – even just to subscribe to a newsletter – the website, or at least the page the form appears on, should be protected with SSL.
So which website owners don’t have to worry about SSL? Those that are only running a blog or a website that is intended to strictly provide information probably don’t need to worry about purchasing or installing SSL. Because no personal information is being given, there’s really nothing to protect. And the benefit of a higher Google ranking probably isn’t worth the time, money and effort needed to install SSL.
SSL is an important part of many websites, but that doesn’t mean that it’s important for all websites. Before ordering an SSL certificate, it’s important to fully examine your site to determine whether or not you’re asking people for personal information of any kind. If you are, an SSL certificate needs to be installed but if you’re not, it’s really not necessary.