If you want to have your own blog or website, one of the first things you need is web hosting. This is a topic that’s very familiar to experienced webmasters, but it can be quite confusing to beginners. I remember being frustrated and bewildered as I tried to set up my first website. There were just so many unfamiliar web hosting and website terms and concepts to learn about.
As you attempt to master all this new information, you have lots of different companies who are trying to sell you their services. Before spending your money on something like web hosting, it’s best to go in with some knowledge of the basics!
What is Web Hosting?
Let’s start with the most basic question – what is web hosting?
A web host is a company that provides the technology and expertise to keep your website running and connected to the internet. This requires some advanced equipment, such as a server. A good web host also provides the following:
Disk Space and Bandwidth
Disk space refers to the amount of hard disk space your website takes up. Bandwidth is the amount of data your visitors can download from your site.
Web hosts normally offer a large amount of disk space and bandwidth, often “unlimited”. If you are setting up a new website, you won’t have any concerns about running out of either. This only becomes an issue if you are building a very large website or a large number of sites.
This stands for File Transfer Protocol. It may sound technical, but this is simply the type of connection that transfer files from one computer to another. It’s the basic technology used to upload and download files, so a web host must provide this capability at all times.
A Control Panel
The most popular and widely used web hosting control panels are cPanel and vDeck. This is where you (the website owner) can manage your website and do things like upload files, download files and edit your site.
You can also create new email accounts, manage the email accounts, and install new applications in the control panel.
If you’re new to web hosting, you won’t have to be too concerned with either FTP access or control panels as you’ll probably start off using a site builder. Later on, however, it’s good to get familiar with these features.
If you’re a beginner, you won’t be starting out programming your own site. That’s why most web hosts include some kind of site building tool that makes it easy to get a website online even without any technical skills.
Websites must be kept secure so they aren’t hacked. Your data must be kept secure at all times too.
All web hosts offer support, but it’s best to choose one that has 24/7 support as you never know when you might need help. It’s also helpful if they offer support in a number of channels, such as phone, email and live chat. Popular web hosting companies such as Web Hosting Hub also provides a support center where you can find tutorials and active forums.
Domains and Web Hosting
Before you can have your own website, you need a domain. This is your website’s address or URL. You can buy a domain from a domain registrar, which may also offer web hosting, or from a web hosting provider.
Domains typically cost around $10 per year, depending on the extension (.com, .net, .org, etc.). There are also “premium” domains that can be very expensive. Domain names must be unique; you can only buy one that no one else has already purchased.
Some popular web hosts such as Web Hosting Hub will give you a free domain name when you sign up for a hosting plan.
Free Web Hosting
When you consider web hosting, you naturally have to consider the question of how much it’s going to cost. One of the things I found confusing at first was the whole question of whether you could really get hosting for free. You probably see ads for free web hosting, but there are often conditions or catches attached to these.
Since web hosting requires a lot of resources, it makes sense that you would have to pay for it. There are, however, some exceptions to this. There are a few ways to set up a website or blog for free. I will share the most popular ones, along with the “catches” that come along with them.
Third Party or Web 2.0 Sites
You can, in some cases (such as on Blogger.com), buy a domain and use it on one of these third party sites. Yet whether you own your own domain or not, you are subject to the rules and TOS of the third party site. Many Blogger.com and WordPress.com sites get deleted for violating various rules. This is the main disadvantage of using this free option.
Free Web Hosting With Ads
Some companies, such as 50megs.com offer free web hosting in exchange for having their ads on your site. They will usually encourage you to upgrade so you don’t have to put up with these ads.
However, please note that most of these web hosting services are not reliable and thus I do not recommend them.
Truly Free Hosting
There are a few options for getting free hosting without ads, and without having to endure third party ads. Weebly is the leading one of this type, and there you can also use your own domain if you want. Weebly not only give you free web hosting, but they also provide a really user friendly yet features rich website builder!
While the above are all good possibilities if you want to save money, you should also think carefully about your goals. In the long run, you will have more features and flexibility if you go with a good paid web hosting plan from a good web host.
What to look for in a Web Hosting Company
Before signing up with a web host, you should shop around and get a feeling for what is available. You should use a variety of criteria before making your choice.
Shouldn’t be your only consideration, but definitely important!
How long has the company been in business?
Check online reviews to find out how satisfied customers are.
What type of support do they offer? Is it available at all times, 24 hours a day?
Money Back Guarantee
Hopefully you won’t want your money back, but this offer shows the company has confidence in its services.
Does the web host guarantee a certain amount of uptime? This refers to how often your site is actually online, which should be close to 100%!
While you might find web hosting a little overwhelming at first, remember that you don’t have to learn everything overnight. You can take it one step at a time. Most web hosts make this easy by offering tools that are geared to beginners, for example Site Builders, and easy-to-use web hosting control panels.
It’s important to choose a web host that offers solid support so that you can get answers to any questions that come up. You will also find that good web hosts usually prepare a good amount of tutorials and a knowledebase to which you can refer.
Web hosting is what allows you to get your website online so you can start attracting visitors. With a domain and a web host, you are on your way to becoming an experienced blogger or webmaster!