How To Choose The Best Web Hosting Company
How to Choose the Best Website Hosting Company: A Quick (kind of) Guide to Web Hosting Servers.
I have been hosting my own websites on the Internet since early 2000. I own a number of domain names (including this one, WebsiteHomework.com) and have dealt with a number of hosting companies in the past. I decided to write this article in order to explain how to choose a web hosting company based on my experience with them, with the hope that it will help someone out there to learn more about web hosting companies.
Instead of telling you what the best web hosting company is, I will lay out the basic information that can be quickly soaked up into your brain. You will learn what type of things to avoid and discover detailed information on how to choose a hosting company for your site which, I hope, will help you make your own decisions.
Many people don't even know what they are actually buying or how web hosting works. Surely, this information is not necessary to know or understand fully, but knowing it wouldn't hurt, would it?
Perhaps after reading this article you will have a better understanding of what's involved in actually hosting your web server, what they are (simple computers just like the one you are using right now) and what it means for your website to be hosted online. If anything, I hope that once engulfed in the information about web hosting on this page you will emerge a brand new person, confident in choosing the best web host for your website. And if that is so, then I have succeeded in writing this guide.
What is Web Hosting and Why Should You Care?
A long time ago when web hosting companies began to surface and offer their services, there was no need to offer anything more than the ability to host simple HTML files. An HTML file is the building block of any web-page. You can learn more about creating a website using HTML tags by following this link to my other article on this website. By uploading an HTML file to the web hosting server (which is usually done by using an FTP-client software program) you essentially make one web page available online for everyone else to browse, which will be located at your domain name address. Domain name addresses are provided by hosting companies as well, but you can also register a domain name from a separate company, and then link it to your hosting company. There are advantages and disadvantages of doing it either way.
The website hosting company provides computer space to store your website on. To save money, hosting companies have their own tricks up their sleeve. For example it is common for more than one website to be hosted on the same hosting server. A hosting server is simply a computer, just like the one you are using right now.
In fact, you can host a website from your very own computer, using your ISP bandwidth, if you can properly set it up. Essentially website hosting companies put together a number of computers and host multiple websites from each one of them. It's possible to host dozens, if not hundreds, of websites from just one computer, depending on how powerful it is. When a hosting company does this, it is usually referred to as the shared hosting plan.
Hosting companies "install" your website along with websites of many other customers on the same computer to save maintenance and running costs. This is the computer from which your and many other websites are served to the Internet audiences. Of course the hosting company maintains a large number of computers in their data centers that are constantly looked after by experienced web server administrators.
If you are looking for the best web hosting company that usually means you are looking for putting your very first website online. It is probably safe to say that most website hosting companies will provide enough functionality for your first website. However, the choice can be critical because you don't want to find out that a certain website feature you need is missing from the hosting plan you have already subscribed to. This is why it is important to do a great deal of research on which hosting company will be responsible for delivering the content of your website to online audiences.
Web Hosting: The Standard Feature Set
One of the first steps in starting a website is choosing a web hosting company. This decision depends on several factors such as what type of a website you are planning to put up on the Internet. Choosing a web hosting company can start with the question: what kind of a website are you looking to host? Will it require video bandwidth? Probably not, because videos can be hosted using a free YouTube account. Furthermore, the question of how to choose a web hosting company has a close relationship to what type of features must be included in the hosting package of your choice.
Are you looking to build an E-Commerce store with shopping cart functionality? Perhaps you are looking to build a simple 5-page website? Or maybe you are looking to start a new blog, in which case you will probably be interested in Wordpress hosting. Though not necessarily, because Wordpress can be installed on any hosting server capable of PHP (That's the language the Wordpress is written in). The files provided in a zipped Wordpress installation are unzipped with a utility program such as WinZip (if you are using the Windows Operating System) and are then simply copied to the server. After taking a few simple steps the installation will be completed. Wordpress follows a pretty straightforward setup process.
To someone who has absolutely no experience with hosting their website online, sometimes the feature lists shown in the "products and services" section of a web hosting company may look confusing. To be completely honest they may even look like some kind of code in an alien language.
What is this PHP hosting? What is the difference between Windows and Linux hosting packages? What is VPS hosting. Do I need it at all? Do I need only some of the features or all of them? And equally important: How do I choose the most affordable and cheapest web hosting plan for my website and get all the best features that my website will actually need?
Is There Such a Thing as the Best Web Hosting Company?
Which hosting company is the best one? If you are still looking for answers, information on this page is designed to help you make the best choice. The purpose of this article is to help you choose the best website hosting company for your new website based on specific circumstances. It will provide basic information and help you make your own choice.
With the abundance of the features provided by web hosting companies it is easy to ask the wrong question. Are you looking to embed Flash animation into your website? Or perhaps you wish to create a website for experimenting with HTML5. If you are looking to use Flash on your website, it makes no difference which web hosting company your website is hosted on, as long as it allows hosting HTML files, which is a standard requirement of all hosting companies with no exception. The Flash itself is embedded into the website by using HTML tags. And because absolutely all hosting companies feature basic HTML hosting at the very least any hosting is already capable of hosting Flash files out of the box.
The best hosting company is the one that provides fast and reliable services. Many web hosting companies advertise 99.99% up-time per year (or per month). But what does it mean? Well, this sounds reliable. But after doing some basic math, it can be deducted that 0.01% of the up time that is missing can actually mean hours of downtime per year. Web hosting companies cannot guarantee 100% up-time (unless they are pretty damn good at servicing their data centers) simply because on a long enough time line unattended computers will start to fail. Hard drives can fail, or other hardware elements will expire and will require a replacement. Sometimes a web hosting company can be attacked by hackers using viruses or something known as DOS (Denial of Service) attacks which can knock out hosted websites or at least slow them down severely.
Another sign of a website hosting company that can be considered to be one of the best is customer support. Companies such as Hostgator and Godaddy provide a control panel which can be used to start "tickets". Tickets are received by customer service representatives and are answered within 24 hours, although this period is usually shorter. In addition, many hosting companies also provide customer support by phone or even live only chat, which is probably the fastest and the most private way of getting someone to answer your questions.
Choose Between Shared or Dedicated Web Hosting Company
Before you make the choice of which web hosting company will be privileged to host your website you must first understand the difference between a shared web server and a dedicated web hosting server.
Shared web hosting servers imply, by their definition, that your website will be hosted on the same computer along with many other websites. What does this mean for you? Of course, the web hosting company will never tell you (or at least tell you in very small letters or in an agreement that nobody really usually reads) that choosing a shared hosting package means that your website may not load very fast. But don't panic. Shared web hosting packages are cheap, and most of the time, when you are starting a new website you will likely to not even notice the slight delay when loading your site in a web browser.
Why does this happen? Imagine that a web hosting server signed up 100 new accounts. The reality is that most websites will never be visited by anyone at all. It takes time to build traffic to your website, sometimes it takes months or even years to develop a constant stream of traffic. If you are interested in how to build traffic to your website, you can visit this article that I have written. Lack of traffic is exactly what web hosting companies rely on when they offer shared hosting plans. But what happens when 1 of the websites on the same hosting server starts to become popular and perhaps attracts a lot of traffic?
Remember that all 100 (it could be any number, but just for the sake of the argument) websites are stored on the same computer. This means that if one websites starts to use its resources, it is likely to slow down access to all other 99 computers hosted on it. This is one of the major disadvantages of shared hosting.
Another disadvantage of choosing a shared hosting package is less obvious. If you are looking to build a website and are planning on optimizing it for search engines (also known as SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization) shared hosting offers one small disadvantage. The Google search engine actually considers how fast your website is loading in the browser when determining your website's (and its individual web pages) placement in the search results list (also known as SERP, which stands for Search Engine Results Placement). While it's nothing to panic about, moving your website to a dedicated server will slightly increase your chances of appearing higher on the list of search results than your competitors who may be hosted on a shared hosting server!
However, web hosting companies have figured out a way to "outsource" larger loads of traffic to other servers, even on shared hosting plans. We are supposed to let them worry about that. The bottom line is that a shared hosting plan is completely okay to start with. When your website starts showing signs of popularity, it will be the time to move it to a dedicated server. That is also the case if you care about Search Engine Optimization with the Google search engine.