We may receive referral fees from partners: Advertiser disclosure
To make a better decision on which web hosting service to choose, you should get yourself familiar with the buzzwords around web hosting service.
For example: What is Web Hosting? What is DNS? What criteria should be taken in account when choosing the right web hosting service?
We will help you gain more knowledge on how the internet works so you could take better decisions on the road to build your online presence by having your own website.
In this page, we gathered most relevant background information for choosing the right web hosting service for your needs
What is Web Hosting
In a nutshell: A place to put your website’s files so they will be accessible to everyone on the Internet
Web hosting, as it sounds, is a place to host a website content. However the question is why do we need to host a website?
Hosting a website is one of the basic requirements for the internet to be working
When you enter a website address (also called URL) in the browser address bar, the browser searches for the target website URL by translating the domain of that website into an IP address. You can learn more about the IP address search process in our article about DNS - Domain Name Server.
Next, after the browser has the necessary IP address, it would:
- Send an a request to the hosting web server using a protocol called HTTP GET.
- A connection would be established between your computer and the remote web server.
- The server receives the GET request, which asks for a certain web page to be sent to you.
- It sends back the web page, usually encoded in the standard web language - HTML.
- The browser then begins reading the HTML code and rendering the page accordingly.
- If the TML code indicates that it needs to fetch additional elements, such as images or videos, the browser will start the process to fetch them, which is quite similar to what it did to request the web page itself
Accordingly, the basic purpose of web hosting is letting individuals and businesses have a place where they can upload their website content to, thus making it accessible to the entire world.
With the growth of internet usage around the world a growing number of websites being hosted on various servers around the world.
Types of Hosting
There are a few different types of hosting services that you can use. Here is an overview of the most common ones:
Shared Web Hosting
Shared hosting is the most common type of web hosting service used by individuals, as well as small and mid-sized businesses. It is also the most affordable and easiest to use.
With shared hosting, multiple websites are placed on one physical server, thus sharing that server's resources like CPU, RAM and disk space.
Each customer can administer their own website by logging in to a web-based control panel. This type of hosting will be suitable for most users, as it will be sufficient to host simple websites, such as business sites, blogs, photo galleries and small e-commerce sites.
However, if you want to build a website that would receive a huge amount of visitors on a daily basis, or that would place a large demand on server resources, such as a large forum or e-commerce site, shared hosting would not be powerful enough for you.
VPS (Virtual Private Server)
A VPS, or Virtual Private Server, is basically a part of a server that is assigned for your exclusive use.
Think of the server as a pie and the individual slices as virtual private servers. This sharing of resources is accomplished by using virtualization software.
Every user would get an allocated amount of server resources, such as RAM, processing power and disk space. This type of hosting is suitable for sites that would require a bit more power than a shared hosting account.
Managed and Dedicated Hosting Services
A dedicated hosting service gives you an entire server for your exclusive use. You can choose a server configuration that will give you the power you need for your site.
With dedicated hosting, you will get full administrator rights to the server and can install any script or program that you want on it to help run your website or other online services, such as hosting multiplayer video games.
Managed hosting will still get you a server all to yourself, however the web host will help you by configuring it and ensuring that it runs smoothly, while you focus on building and maintaining your site. However, you should know that this management service comes at a premium on the price of the server.
Cloud hosting is a hybrid between VPS and dedicated web hosting. Here, you will get your very own virtual server, but instead of running on one specific physical server, the virtual server can use resources from a cluster of servers and storage devices working together.
Cloud servers give you a lot of reliability and flexibility, as you can select from the number of CPU cores you need, amount of RAM, storage space, network resources and many more configurations which allows you to fully control your service by yourself.
It is often used by larger businesses that deploy online applications which need a lot of resources.
What is Domain Name Server (DNS)
In a nutshell: Like your phone book, a place where you find phone number.
Let’s say you enter www.google.com into the browser’s address bar. The first thing the browser would need to do is find the IP address associated with that particular domain name, so that it can connect to Google’s server and fetch the page. There are a few different ways for a browser to translate a domain name into an IP address(for now, refer to IP address as the server unique identifier, like a unique phone number per person). First, it would look up its own cache to see if it already knows the IP address associated with this domain. This would usually occur if you have visited that website in the past few minutes. If nothing is found, the browser keeps looking and asks your computer’s operating system whether it has the IP address of the website in question. Still, if nothing is found, the request goes to your Internet provider’s DNS (Domain Name Server).
The DNS belonging to your ISP(Internet Service Provider) will generally be able to find the needed IP address and send it back to your browser, as it keeps the IP addresses of commonly visited websites in its cache. If it can’t find the record, it will start what is called a recursive search. It first starts at the root name server, then connects to the .com name server and finally reaches the google.com name server, which forwards the IP address of www.google.com to your ISP’s DNS. The DNS then sends the IP address to your browser. The process of accessing a website can be compared to wanting to call someone without having their phone number. You would first check to see if you can remember that person’s phone number in your head. If you don’t, you would check inside your phone’s contacts. If you still don’t have the number, you would then look up the number in the phone book.
How to Choose the Best Web Hosting Company?
Choosing Website Hosting Services That Are Right for Your Business
Choosing a web hosting company is an important decision for small and medium sized business owners, and making a mistake in this area can cast a long shadow. Before you decide on web hosting services, you should first consider what type of website you will be building, what your customers or clients will be using the website for and how much traffic your site is likely to receive each month. Websites that are used to process financial transactions or collect personal data require higher levels of security than WordPress blogs, and some web hosting companies make adding this extra layer of protection easier than others.
Website hosting cost is often a major consideration when business owners choose between hosting sites, but they may be wise to read the fine print before deciding on a hosting provider with deals that seem almost too good to be true. Most web hosting companies offer an introductory rate that increases significantly when the promotion ends, and the best deals are generally reserved for business owners who sign up for long periods. Web hosting reviews are a good place to find out about website hosting cost, introductory offers and long-term commitments. The features on offer should also be factored in when considering a hosting service as cheaper options may not look like such good deals if they do not include all of the tools that business owners need. While room to grow may be important, most web hosting services make it simple to upgrade to a more elaborate package when the needs of their customers change. You should also be aware that many hosting companies offer their new customers credits that can be used to purchase advertising on Google, Bing or Facebook.
Disc Space & Bandwidth
The disc space and bandwidth limits offered by a hosting provider are crucial considerations when business owners choose which company to trust with their websites. Bandwidth measures the maximum amount of data that can be exchanged between your website and its visitors during a given time. Some of the more expensive hosting options include extremely generous bandwidth allowances or no caps at all, but reading the fine print usually reveals that these unlimited plans are not actually unlimited at all. This is because it would be financially prohibitive for a web host to offer every visitor unfettered access. Disc space is the amount of storage space allocated to your website. Simple text files and small images use very little disc space, but more may be required if you are likely to be adding content regularly. Disc space is an especially pressing concern for blogs that add large media files on a weekly or monthly basis. Web hosting reviews will usually include bandwidth and disc space details as well as information about how the allowances offered by hosting providers differ.
The speed at which a website page loads can greatly influence a visitor’s experience, and research has found that even a second or two difference in loading times can significantly affect user retention. Search engines like Google are primarily concerned with visitor experience, and websites that load slowly may find themselves languishing at the bottom of web searches. While page loading speeds are greatly dependent on the way websites are built and not on the hosting service, choosing a web host in a city close to where visitors are located can make sites load more quickly. While this may not be a factor for businesses with a national audience, it may be something for you to consider if most of your customers live in a particular geographical area.
There are few things more frustrating for a business owner than a website error message, and both time and money can be lost when these problems are not addressed promptly by web hosting sites. Virtually all web hosting 2018 will include around-the-clock support, but the type of assistance on offer may vary. Reading a web hosting review will answer most of the questions you may have about service and support as well as the kind of on-hold times that users can expect. The customer support options offered by hosting sites run the gamut from reporting a problem online, receiving a ticket number and waiting for somebody to get back to you to 24 hour telephone support from qualified technicians.
Reliability and Uptime
Your website will not do very much for you if your visitors cannot see it, so reliability and uptime are not issues to be taken lightly. However, the uptime guarantees offered by website hosting companies can be a little bit deceptive. An assurance that a website will be up and running 99.5 percent of the time seems good on paper, but this kind or performance will leave websites unavailable for more than three hours every month. Web hosts often provide updated downtime figures and a number of tools are available if you would like to monitor these figures yourself, and you should also remember that a 99.8 percent uptime guarantee does not necessarily mean that your website will be down .2 percent of the time.
Ease of Use
The cPanels provided by website hosting services allow business owners to maintain, manage and update their websites, and many hosts include a dizzying array of scripts and features that make building and running a business website easier. Script installers like Fantastico and Quick Installer allow content management systems such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla as well as other popular scripts to be installed with just a click or two, and FTP features make it easy to upload files from your computer to your website. Web hosting also commonly features Google analytics integration and ecommerce solutions such as shopping carts and database management. A web hosting review will generally include details on the various scripts and features included by hosting companies and how they can make optimizing and updating websites far simpler.
Providing website security involves protecting the server where your data is stored from hackers and ensuring that the information your customers send to you cannot be intercepted by malicious third parties. This may not be a concern if you have a simple static or WordPress website, but it becomes crucially important if you collect sensitive information like Social Security or credit card numbers. This kind of data can be encrypted and protected by using software known as SSL, and the addresses of websites that use this kind of security begin with https instead of http. They may also feature green padlock icons in the address bar. Business owners who collect sensitive data without SSL may wish to think again as Google frequently warns visitors that sites lacking this protection are less secure. This makes choosing the right host especially important as some web hosting sites make using SSL and obtaining an SSL certificate far more difficult than others.
Website Building Tools
There is little point in choosing a feature-rich web hosting package if the website being hosted is dull and uninspiring. Most website hosting providers offer an array of tools that can be used to build dynamic websites that render perfectly on desktop computers, laptops and smartphones, but choosing the appropriate content management system can be confusing for beginners. While WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are all free to use, they offer specific benefits that may make them more appropriate for your website. WordPress is an excellent choice for novices as it is extremely easy to use and works very well. Joomla requires a little more in the way of technical skills, but it could be a wiser choice for ecommerce applications. Drupal is the most difficult of the three popular content management systems to use, but it also the most powerful.