A web host is a company that provides space on it’s servers for you to keep your web site, almost like a locker in cyberspace. They promise to keep your site online 24 hours a day for the whole time you pay for their services. If you have a web site that your business relies on and your hosting company is unreliable, you may find your site becomes inaccessible for long periods of time which can greatly affect the reliability and performance of the services you provide.
Generally, if your site is important to you or your business, it is probably best to choose a large well known company with the backup and resources to provide the service that you need. Small companies and new host providers sometimes offer better deals in order to gain new custom, and to be fair, as they have less clients to deal with, they may on occaision provide a more personal service, but be careful, some companies may not have the resources to back up their claims.
Before you sign up to any host provider, even the big guys, make sure you do your research and ensure they have a reasonably good record by checking out lots of reviews and web forums.
When you choose a hosting package with a provider, make sure you get unlimited sub domains, loads of email accounts, free email forwarding and a user control panel with your account as standard.
Types of Hosting
Generally there are 3 types of hosting. Each have their pro’s and con’s. Choose which one best suits your needs.
As the name suggests, the hosting is free. This is great if you don’t need lots of space or a particularly reliable service. Often with free hosting, you will have smaller limitations on bandwidth available to you and may also be subject to having various adverts displayed on your web pages in return for using the service. You might have to use a domain prefix such as www.’freehost.com’/’mysite’ or www.’mysite’.’freehost.com’ etc.
If you’re not too bothered about service, someone else’s ads or having your own www.’yoursite’.com name or are only interested in a non commercial site, then free hosting could be the right choice for you.
Shared hosting is when you pay for a share of space on a server with many other people who do the same. This has it’s benefits as paid hosting companies are generally more reliable than those who offer the service for free.
With shared hosting, you can use any domain name you choose (as long as you own that domain) and can place adverts, widgets and just about anything else you like on your pages without having your provider impose restrictions or slapping ads all over your site promoting their own services. You will also get a lot more space to store your files and increased bandwidth allowing more people to visit your web site, watch videos, download stuff and much more.
Shared hosting is relatively cheap and you can pick up some pretty good packages if you are prepared to look around. Expect to pay £2-8 ($4-$16) per month for a shared hosting package. You will get a variable amount of space and extras depending on how much you pay.
Dedicated hosting is where you pay for a whole server dedicated solely to you and your web site(s). This server is kept and maintained at the hosting company and you pay a monthly or yearly fee for the upkeep of your dedicated server.
Most people with small to medium sized web sites such as your average band, small companies and businesses etc. will never really have the need for dedicated hosting unless they become very successful and develop the need for huge amounts of space and bandwidth. In these cases you might want to have that extra piece of mind and service that you would get with a higher priced dedicated package.
It is also possible to become a hosting provider yourself and allow others to host their web sites on your server. Webmasters often do this to offset their own expenses and help pay for their own fees.
All in all, dedicated hosting is quite expensive and probably unnecessary for the average person’s needs. Dedicated hosting can cost anything between £40-£200 ($78 – $390) per month.