Web Hosting Explained

This is an introduction to what web hosting is and what to look for in a web host.

A web host is simply a computer that is connected to the Internet. This computer (also called the web server)  is where the pages of your website are stored (or hosted).

Since visitors to a website may come at anytime of the day, your web server needs to be on and connected to the Internet all the time otherwise people wouldn’t be able to access your website.

Most people with websites don’t bother hosting their own website because it’s too much of a hassle and expensive to manage your own web server. You would have to:

  • Ensure the server’s software is regularly updated
  • Replace any parts that breakdown
  • Pay for the electricity to keep the server running 24hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
  • and that’s just the beginning

That’s why most people host their websites with web hosting companies.

The advantages of hosting your website with a web hosting company is that their staff take care of the management of the web server (as mentioned above).

Shared Hosting

Most budget web hosting is also known as Shared Hosting. Shared Hosting is exactly that, your website files may be kept on a web server that is also shared with other people’s websites. You share the resources of one web server with many other customer websites. that’s how web hosting companies can offer such cheap shared hosting packages.

Since the majority of websites don’t use up that many resources it’s ok to start off on a shared web hosting account.

Only when your site reaches large volumes of traffic or uses a lot of bandwidth (such as a video site) would your needs outgrow a shared hosting account.

What To Look For In a Web Host

Here are the criteria that I look for when evaluating a web host:

  • Customer Support  – do they offer 24/7/365 days of support? How fast is the response of their support? Is their support staff knowledgeable and effective in resolving problems? Is support included in the price you pay?
  • How long have they been in business? You don’t want to deal with a web host that may disappear the next day (along with your website).
  • Features – do they offer the features you require to setup your website
  • Setup time – Most web hosting companies nowadays can help you get started very quickly (within hours)
  • Service Record – some web hosting companies are poorly run and if they don’t manage their web servers properly, it means your website(s) may not be accessible on a reliable basis. You want a web hosting company that can offer a 98%-99% service availability.
  • Price – I left as the last item because you can’t just base your choice of a web host on the lowest price. You want the best VALUE for your price you pay. Part of that value is all the items I have listed above.

I normally recommend Hostgator as the web hosting company of choice. I have used them for years and they fulfill all the criteria I listed above. I’ve even recommend them to our own clients who don’t want to host their sites with us for whatever reason.

BONUS: Virtual Tree visitors can save 25% off web hosting with Hostgator by using the coupon code: virtualtree.

Also, for the purposes of our Free Web Design Guide, Hostgator offers all the necessary web hosting requirements for building a website with our guide.

Tools Mentioned in This Tutorial:

  • Hostgator is our web host of choice. Save 25% off web hosting with Hostgator with coupon code: virtualtree

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