A website host acts as a storage space for your site files, meaning you don’t have to purchase a server to store them. Your website will be stored on a server in a data centre, allowing you or your users to access it, from any internet-connected device.
The first thing you should consider when building your new website is what type of hosting service you will use. There are a few different types of web hosting available, so you can decide which one would be best for your specific needs.
In most cases, it's going to be either Shared Hosting or Cloud Hosting. Additionally there's Reseller Hosting which comes in two main types: Unmanaged Reseller hosting and Managed Reseller hosting. Finally, there's Dedicated server or VPS (Virtual Private Server) if you require even more power than shared/cloud servers can offer. Lets break each one down...
Shared web hosting services are a cost-effective way to set up a website. Websites that share a server are more efficient and much less expensive than those that require an individual server.
Cloud-based web hosting means that your website information and data is stored virtually, in cloud-based servers. This is done in a similar way to how pictures on your phone are stored to places like iCloud or on Google Drive.
Cloud-based servers are comprised of lots of different servers, meaning they are super-fast and much more reliable.
Reseller hosting is where businesses sell website space to other businesses or individuals. The website reseller will buy a large amount of server storage space and bandwidth from a provider with data centres. This will be at a reduced 'wholesale' rate, so that they're able to make a profit. They will sell this on as a package, including email.
Unmanaged server hosting really just means you have full control over your own website. That being said, since it is unmanaged, you are also responsible for your own site security, optimisation, maintenance and updates over time.
Managed web hosting is when a hosting service provider leases you a dedicated server but manages the server themselves. The provider controls your server, conducts software and hardware maintenance, provides security, monitors activity, and takes care of backup services.
VPS hosting (short for a Virtual Private Server) is one of the most popular hosting services you can choose for your website. It uses virtualisation technology to provide you with dedicated (private) resources on a server with multiple users. It’s a more secure and stable solution than shared hosting where you don’t get a dedicated server space. However, it’s smaller-scale and cheaper than renting an entire server.
Once you’ve decided on a platform for your new website, finding a good web host is essential. Don’t be tempted to go for cheap here; cheaper isn’t always better. In order to offer truly reliable service, a good host will invest in high-quality servers with an excellent uptime record and excellent security measures—all of which costs money. Fortunately there are some great deals out there if you know where to look. Here are a few features to consider when choosing your website's Host.
Reliability - The last thing you want after all that hard work is for your website to go down because of downtime caused by server issues or maintenance. Research potential hosts thoroughly before deciding what suits your needs best, but it’s generally advised that hosts should have at least 99% uptime guarantee - make sure their standard up time is above 90% annually.
Customer Service - A good host will give you 24/7 access to customer service so if anything goes wrong with your website, there are people around who can help you deal with it quickly. You don't want hours or even days of business being lost due to a problem with your site.
User Friendliness - Depending on your level of technical ability, you may need to be able to easily manage your website without needing technical assistance. Look for hosts who offer one-click installs for common web applications such as Wordpress so that you can get online quickly.
Types of Support - There are many different types of website hosting packages available with varying levels of features. Knowing what your business needs will help you to narrow down your choice so that you can spend your money wisely. For instance, if your website uses WordPress, most hosts now provide one-click installs for WordPress which makes setting up new sites quick and easy. Many providers also offer email management tools for creating mailboxes, configuring email accounts, password resets, etc., though most also charge extra for these services. If you anticipate needing premium support options, make sure your chosen host provides them before signing.
Whether you’re launching a new website, or refreshing an existing site, then one of the most important factors that you should be considering is the hosting and support requirements. Whilst many businesses put a lot of thought into the design, development and marketing of their new website, one area which is often overlooked is the website hosting and support requirement.