Choosing the right web host is a very important process that is all to often hurried through or; simply misunderstood.
Choosing a web host is in fact one the most important parts of setting up an online business. You need a service that is fast; easy to use and understand; provides excellent support; and is serious enough about its operations to guarantee that your website will never be down unless the entire datacenter were completely demolished.
Below is a list of the most common questions and answers to consider when looking for a web host. Understanding the different areas of web hosting and services available will help you to make a better educated decision when you do subscribe to a web hosting service.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is the process of putting your web site on a web server or web host, so everyone connected to the Internet can see it. If you have a permanent connection to the Internet you could host your web site on your own computer, but that is in general not a good idea. A good web host is a real server in a datacenter with a fast high bandwidth connection to the Internet. And, to make sure you can move your website to another web host, if necessary, you need a web hosting provider that supports domain hosting.
What is Domain Hosting?
Most Internet Service Providers (or ISP) will give you a free web site when they provide you with access to the Internet. They do this because they don’t want to give you a permanent IP address, which is what you need if you’d like to host a web site on your own computer. Unfortunately, most ISPs don’t support domain hosting with their free web sites. Hence, the URL of your web site is an extension of the URL of your ISP. So what happens when you change ISP? You will have to change the URL and nobody can find you anymore.
The use of a domain name for your web site is absolutely necessary for a professional web site, and to host your own domain you will need to find a real web hosting provider with domain hosting. Many web hosting plans actually include the price of a domain registration, so don’t register your domain before you have chosen your web hosting company.
What is Virtual Hosting?
Virtual hosting is often used as a synonym for shared hosting, e.g. you host your web site on a web server with hundreds of other web sites and you share the IP address with these web sites.
The term virtual hosting should imply, however, that while you share the web server it looks from the outside world that you are the only web site on that server. That means that with virtual hosting you should not only have your own IP address, but also a dedicated bandwidth to the Internet and a dedicated slice of the computers processing power. So, if a web hosting provider uses the term virtual hosting, have a close look if these features are offered before you decide on paying a premium price above standard shared hosting.
What is Bandwidth?
Bandwidth is a measure that reflects how much data can be transferred over a data communication channel.
In web hosting plans the allowed bandwidth generally indicates how much data can be downloaded from your web site per month, and therefore indicates how many web pages and pictures your visitors are allowed to download. If the average amount of page views per visitor is assumed constant, the allowable bandwidth restricts how many visitors you are allowed to have per month.
Just as important, however, is how fast the communication channel between your web host and the Internet is. The amount of data that can be transferred per second is also called the bandwidth of this channel, and this bandwidth is shared by all the web sites hosted by the same provider. If this bandwidth is insufficient, you’ll sometimes notice a slow down in the display of your web pages. In most cases, however, such a slow down is more likely to be caused by an overload on the web server itself.
What is a web server?
A web server is either a special computer or server for reliable hosting of web sites, or the software application that runs on that server. The two main web server applications used by most web hosting providers are
Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS) for windows hosting and Apache for Unix hosting. Both use the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to transfer web pages to your web browser.
What is a datacenter?
A datacenter is building, or part of a building, which offers a professional environment for running computer servers. A datacenter will generally have high speed connections to the Internet and other networks, as well as good security to protect against natural hazards, such as fire, and other hazards, such as intruders and hackers.
Web Hosting Summary.
In summary, what are the important things to look for when selecting a web host?
- Datacenter Standards
- Easy access to a Control Panel
- Easy to navigate Control Panel
- 24 / 7 Support
- Host supports scripting languages / databases required to operate your site
- Multiple packages available (As your business grows you may need to upgrade. Make sure the web host provider will allow you to do this)