The World Wide Web has become more important than ever – we keep in touch with friends in social networks, read news on online outlets, and look for recommendations, prices, or services on various local or international websites. Without a doubt, having a website is the easiest way to reach millions of people regardless of their location. Have you ever thought what you would need in order to launch a website of your own, though? Some will say that you have to buy a domain name, and they will not be wrong. For many people, a domain name and a website are interchangeable terms. In addition to the name, however, you will need a web hosting service. The hosting service is what makes it possible for a domain to open the content that you create.
- Domain name vs. Web hosting
- Types of web hosting
- Shared hosting
- Virtual private servers
- Dedicated servers
- Cloud hosting
- Managed / Unmanaged hosting
- What services you (usually) get with web hosting
- Why do you need web hosting?
- What to look for when choosing a hosting plan
- What we can offer you
Domain name vs. Web hosting
You need two different services to launch a website – a domain name and a web hosting service. In a nutshell, the domain name is the alphanumeric address that you type in your web browser (example.com, for instance), while the web hosting is the disk space on a server where the website files are stored.
The domain name is pointed to a specific hosting provider by setting its so-called name servers (DNS records) to the ones of that provider. When you want to open a website, your browser sends a request to a number of global DNS servers that keep the records for all domains so as to find out where the desired domain points to, i.e. where it is hosted. Once the request reaches the hosting server, the required content is sent back and you see it on your computer.
The web hosting service is not just the disk space though. It comprises a number of different services that allow you to manage your web presence. We will have a look at a few of them below. There are also different types of hosting that are suitable for different types of websites.
Types of web hosting
This is the most popular type of web hosting as it is the easiest one to manage and the most affordable one. Multiple hosting accounts are created on the same server and share its system resources. Each account has limited resources, but they are not guaranteed. This makes it possible for a single popular website to use most of the server resources. Yet, the shared hosting service is perfect for small and medium-sized websites due to its low cost and easy management.
If you have no experience, a shared hosting account is the best option to start with. Although this is not always the case, shared plans often come with a lot of additional features, such as an email service, a site builder, backups, a hosting control panel, etc. A big advantage is that the hosting provider takes care of software updates, server security and maintenance.
- The least expensive type of hosting.
- The easiest one to use, perfect for people with little or no experience.
- Often comes with lots of features.
- The hosting provider manages the server.
- Limited system resources.
- Little control to manage the system configuration.
- Other clients may affect the performance of your website.
Virtual private servers
A virtual private server (VPS) is a software emulation of a dedicated server. Using virtualization software, several virtual servers are created on a physical machine. Each VPS has guaranteed system resources, its own operating system and web software, so the websites of other clients sharing the physical server cannot affect your own site or compromise its security. Each virtual server is managed independently from all other VPS accounts on the physical server, which gives you much more control over the machine compared to a shared hosting account. High end virtual servers can match the power of many dedicated server plans at a fraction of the cost. This makes VPS hosting suitable for resource-demanding websites that cannot be hosted on a shared hosting account.
- Usually much more powerful than shared hosting plans.
- Comes with guaranteed system resources.
- Additional server-side software can be installed.
- Technical knowledge is often required.
- More expensive than shared hosting plans.
- License fees may be required for some software.
If you rent a dedicated server, you will have the system resources of an entire physical machine at your disposal. This is the most powerful type of hosting on a single server. It is also the most expensive type as you have to cover all costs related to its operation. You will not share the server with anybody else, so you can use a dedicated server if you want to run a website that generates a lot of traffic and needs a lot of computing power. Usually you will be in charge of the server security and maintenance, so you will need experience or you will have to hire a system administrator to help you with the server management.
- The most powerful type of hosting on a single server.
- Root access to manage any server-side settings and software.
- The system resources of the entire machine will be only for your website.
- Quite expensive compared to other types of hosting.
- Advanced server management knowledge is required.
With the cloud hosting service, multiple servers work together to provide virtually limitless server resources. The main advantage of using this type of hosting is that it is scalable. You can start with less system resources and add more processing power, memory, or disk space as you need them without worrying that you will reach any limit of a single physical server. Cloud services are suitable for huge websites with hundreds of thousands of users, like social networks, very large online stores with millions of products, or heavy web applications. The more power you add, the more expensive the service gets, so high-end configurations are usually very expensive.
- Easy scaling up.
- Very high uptime.
- Pay only what you use.
- Powerful configurations are expensive.
- Server management experience is often required.
- Hard to estimate the cost in advance.
Managed / Unmanaged hosting
If you go through the offers of different hosting providers, you will notice that some of them are labeled as managed, while others are unmanaged. This tells you who will be in charge of the server management – you or the provider. All shared hosting servers are managed. They are shared by many customers, so the hosting company takes care of software updates, hardware upgrades, and the overall server security.
This is not the case with virtual or dedicated servers, though. If you have a dedicated server plan, usually you have to take care of operating system updates, server monitoring, security patches, etc. Depending on the provider, you may find only self-managed/unmanaged or only managed plans, or an option to use an optional paid management service if you cannot administrate the machine yourself. Unless you need or want to manage a server yourself, using a fully managed service will allow you to focus on building and developing your websites rather than spending time on maintenance tasks.
What services you (usually) get with web hosting
Shared web hosting plans and some managed servers usually include a number of services that may vary from one provider to another in terms of availability and price. If you have an unmanaged machine, however, you should install and set up most, if not all of these services. If you cannot do that yourself, you will have to hire a system administrator or pay additional fees to the hosting provider. Some service/software may even be paid additionally if it is not part of a hosting package already.
Here are some of the services that come with most web hosting plans:
- Emails. This is a vital service for any business and any managed hosting plan (shared or VPS) comes with a ready-to-use email service. You can create email addresses with your domain name through your hosting control panel and usually you can manage the mailboxes both through webmail in your browser, and through an email client installed on your computer.
- Backups. If something goes wrong after a site update, or you delete any file or email by mistake, you can quickly restore everything the way it was as long as there is a backup of your content. Many hosting providers offer backups with their plans, but they often limit the service depending on the size and the inodes of the content. For server plans, usually you should either pay an additional fee, or you should set up backups yourself. Few providers back everything up unconditionally.
- Support. Companies offer customer and technical support using different channels – phone, tickets, email, live chat. They usually help with hosting-related questions and issues, but no web design or general web-oriented questions. This is not the case with all providers, though, as some will go the extra mile for their customers regardless of the issue. The response time and the expertise of the staff varies from one provider to another. An easy test you can try is to send an email to a particular company out of office hours and see how much time it will take them to reply.
- Control panel. All shared hosting plans come with a control panel where you can manage all hosting-related services such as files, emails, databases, web applications, backups, etc. There are different control panel brands, and their sections and features may differ, but they all follow the same principle – to allow you to manage your web presence. Some control panels are free, others have a license fee that is added on top of the price of the hosting plan. Virtual or dedicated servers may or may not have a control panel.
- SSL certificates. Having a secure website is a necessity these days and adding an SSL certificate is the first step in this direction. This is the reason why many hosting providers offer free and/or paid certificates with their plans. Almost all control panels allow you to install a third-party SSL certificate through a dedicated SSL section. If you have a server with no control panel, you can still add a certificate, but this can be done only manually and not through a point-and-click interface.
- FTP and SSH access. You will be able to connect via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or SSH (Secure Shell) to your account and manage your files. The availability of either one depends on the particular hosting plan and the provider that you choose.
- Website builder and/or application installer. Many providers offer a website builder or a 1-click installer that allows you to set up an application such as WordPress. Such software may come with additional themes, or you may have to build the site from scratch. For example, if you use WordPress, the most popular content management system out there, you will be able to browse thousands of free themes through its dashboard.
- Databases. Web applications such as WordPress, Drupal, Magento, or OpenCart store most of their information in a database. They call only the necessary information for a particular page and generate content dynamically. Free hosting plans often come with no database support, but all paid shared hosting plans come with this feature. If you have a resource-demanding website, you can use a managed VPS in case you want database support to be included by default. With unmanaged plans, you will have to install and set up some database management system yourself.
Why do you need web hosting?
A web hosting service is one of the core requirements to have a website. There are a lot of reasons why you may want to have one and be a part of the digital world we live in. If you use a web hosting service from some provider, you will use their infrastructure and expertise, so you will not have to set up a server of your own or hire a system administrator to manage it. You will also have more control over your content compared to using a closed website builder platform. You can choose what software to use, what themes and plugins to apply, and you will have access to your content. In comparison, most closed platforms do not provide any access to files and databases and do not give you a choice what software to use. They often come without the additional services that you may need such as emails or backups. They usually provide only a user interface to add and delete text and images, so if you want to move the site you have created with them elsewhere, you will likely not be able to.
If you run a business, having a website will allow you to reach millions of people from all around the globe. You can find a lot of new customers, and they will be able to find information about your products and services quickly and easily, without contacting you directly, at any time of the day. Of course, if any potential or existing customer wants to reach you, they will easily find online how they can do that. In addition, having a hosting service means that you will have a private email address with your own domain name. This way, any online communication will look far more professional. Here are a few reasons to build a business website:
- Gain credibility
- Keep in touch with customers
- Expand your customer base
- Save time and money
- Keep up with your competitors
You can also create a personal website and find people with similar interests from your area or from all over the world. You can reach a far greater audience and there are countless options what type of personal website you can build. Here are a few ideas:
- Create a portfolio website. If you are a professional or an artist, this will be the best way to show your work.
- Build a family site. Share photos with your family, or create a site for a wedding.
- Share your experience. Start a travel blog, a recipe website, or simply share your thoughts.
- Create a hobby website. If you collect stuff, a website will help you connect with other people who share your passion.
- Launch a community site. You can reach a lot of people for some charity cause or if you build a site for a local organization.
- Build an informational website on any subject you like.
- Earn from your site. Join an ad network and add banners to any type of website.
What to look for when choosing a hosting plan
Not all plans are the same. Different providers offer different features and choosing the right plan means that you will not end up paying for resources you don’t need or for a plan that cannot support your website.
- Beware of “unlimited” disk space. While the term “unlimited” looks appealing, it is just a marketing trick. Especially for a shared hosting plan, the disk space is always limited so that all clients on a server can get their share of the disk drive. You can contact the provider in advance and ask them what they mean by unlimited as such offers always have some catch in regards to the type of content you can store or to its size.
- Check what content you can host. In this article, we discuss web hosting, which is essentially hosting a website. If you want to store images or personal backups that you want to access online, you may be in breach of the Terms and Conditions of your provider. Many companies offer a certain amount of disk space with their plans, but do not allow non-website files to be stored on the account. Other providers like ICDSoft provide the disk space and leave it to their customers to use it as they see fit.
- Upgrade options. Check if the selected company offers different hosting plans so that you can upgrade in case your site grows and needs more system resources. This will save you a possible migration to another provider in the future.
What we can offer you
All hosting plans that we offer are fully managed, so we will make sure that your website stays online 24/7, and we will take care of any software updates, security patches, etc. This way, you can focus on developing and promoting your site, not on tedious maintenance tasks.
Our disk space quotas are generous and guaranteed. As long as you use your account for storing legal content, you can use all the disk space you pay for without any limitations. All content is backed up twice a day unconditionally, and you will be able to browse all backups and restore any file or mailbox with a few clicks.
You will be able to manage your web presence, including a fully managed email service, through our free in-house hosting Control Panel. In it, you will also find a 1-click WordPress installer, so you can take advantage of thousands of themes and plugins for one of the most popular web applications. For your convenience, you can create a staging site and launch it only when it is ready.
You can see our hosting plans and if you have any questions, start a live chat or send us an email 24/7 - you will be pleasantly surprised by our response time.