Your Beginners' Guide to Web Hosting

Whether you're a private internet enthusiast or a small business owner who wants to broaden their online reach and presence, you will have to make critical decisions regarding your personal or company web pages at one point or another. Choosing the right host can mean the difference between making difficult and time-consuming decisions daily, versus taking them only once and leaving the rest to your hosting company to take care of. Before you start your online journey or before you make your next big decision, read on below to learn more about a few key concepts related to web hosting that anyone with a webpage, or anyone thinking of launching a webpage, should know.

Learn what you need to know right here

  • Learn everything about finding the right host
  • Step-by-step instructions and information on server types
  • Narrow down your selection and choose the optimal host in a few easy steps

Before getting started

Beginners

Here are some of the things you should ask yourself before you set out on finding the right host.

  • Will I require a lot of bandwidth, resources, and security features, or am I relatively flexible?
  • Am I able to manage the maintenance, uptime, deployment, and privacy of my servers myself, or should I hand off this kind of work to my host?
  • What is my budget, and what do customers generally get within such a budget?
  • What kinds of data, content, and media will I be using?
  • Am I speed/time sensitive?
  • Will I require custom plugins and add-ons such as shopping carts or comments sections for my page?

The answers to these questions will significantly narrow down the list of potential web hosts for you, and you can then start honing in on the plan that is best for you.

During your search

Once you have answers to the questions above, be sure to remember the following points:

  • Don't rush things; you'll find the right plan if you look in the right places
  • Be sure to go for a plan that offers a money-back guarantee
  • You can almost always get a full refund back if you're ever unhappy with the services you've received, so don't worry even if you've signed up with a sub-par host

Once you have your requirements, your budget, and a general idea of what you might need all in place, you need to do the following.

  • Look into various hosting models to see which one will suit you best
  • Finalize a host that specializes in the area that you intend to operate in

Below you'll find brief outlines of the types of plans and hosting setups that are popular amongst general users.

Types of plans

Beginners

Shared plans: In shared plans, your web page is hosted on a server that is shared with anywhere between a few websites, to hundreds of them. These kinds of plans are generally quite cheap, but because you share the resources of the server with others, you don't get more resources as you need them, and you have limited RAM, disk space, domains, and maybe even visitors allowed per month.

VPS plans: In Virtual Private Server plans, your website is run from a virtual machine where your host partitions specific resources for you from a larger pool of computing resources. These plans are more expensive than shared plans, but resource allocation can be automated, and you can seamlessly rent out more resources from your host should you need them.

Dedicated plans: In dedicated hosting, you have a separate, dedicated server for you and for you alone. No one else has access, your resources are not shared with anyone else, and you have full control over everything. These plans are quite pricey but are great if you want to manage your own deployments and customize your server to meet any very specific requirements that you may have.

Niche hosts

Different hosts focus in different areas, and there are hosts that do it all as well. If your needs are specific, you may need to go for a host that does specifically what you need, and if your needs are general, you can probably go with a host that works in numerous areas. Here are some of the more common focus areas of different web hosts.

  • All-in-one hosts: These hosts provide plans that cover all of the different areas of website hosting and maintenance that you would require - installation of plugins and software, maintenance, admin panel management, upgrades, security patches, etc.
  • WordPress hosts: These hosts focus on providing platforms for users who want to launch webpages using WordPress.
  • Joomla & Drupal: These are both Content Management Systems (CMSs) that are used for uploading and arranging your online content on your page, and various hosts provide servers that are customized to run Joomla or Drupal for clients who require higher-end CMS or who want more technically-involved functionalities.
  • Magento: Launching an online store, or require a shopping cart and payment integration on your website? Magento plans provide exactly those things, as well as other functions and features related to online transactions.
  • Managed and unmanaged hosts: Depending on your level of comfort doing server deployments and maintenance, you may or may not want to manage your server yourself, so there are plans for both managed as well as managed servers, and you can choose whichever you like better.

Choosing your plan

Once you a) have your budget, b) have narrowed down your requirements, c) know the types of plans available and what they provide, and d) know the kind of site you want to launch, finalizing a host and a plan should be relatively easy.

Beginners may want to go for managed WordPress sites, and those who are not entirely new to the hosting game may want to go for a Joomla VPS solution. Then, depending on whether or not you want added features on your website, you may even decide to go for a dedicated Drupal server, or scale back to a shared all-in-one solution.

Whatever you do, though, if you go for a top recommended host working in your line of interest, you'll be taken care of and will have no problems launching and maintaining your online blog, store, gallery, or personal or company webpage.