Let’s say you have a small business selling books. How will people know where to find you? You would probably need to set up a shop to sell your books – Right?. And the best way to do this would be to rent space in a popular mall to display and sell your books.
This is what hosting is really all about. Renting space to display your business website.
Why do you need hosting?
Let’s first define hosting.
Hosting is a service provided by a hosting provider which offers a physical location for the storage of web pages and files.
Think of a web hosting provider as the mall landlord. Hosting providers rent physical space on their web servers (fast computers that are connected to the internet) to website owners.
Just like the book shop, your need a place to display your website. Hence, you need to store your web files on a hosting provider’s web server. This will allow the rest of the world to search and find your web pages on the internet. If you don’t host your website, no one will ever find your website.
Let’s now understand some of the hosting solutions that are offered.
Types of hosting solutions can you choose from
There are 2 common hosting solutions that are usually provided by most hosting providers:
This is definitely one of the cheapest and most common form of web hosting. Why is it cheap? Because it is run in a way that makes it possible for different web site owners to share the same web server, hence the name Shared Hosting.
With shared hosting your website is hosted on a server that is shared by other websites. The hosting company will be the one to manage and monitor the server and do what it takes to make sure that the server is always up and running. All you have to do is to sign up with the hosting provider. They handle the customer support and maintenance of the web server.
Shared hosting is like renting space in the mall for that book store. The space is yours but you share the amenities with the rest of the mall. And the mall owner or landlord is responsible for keeping the lights on.
Dedicated Web Hosting
Compared to shared hosting, dedicated web hosting is more sophisticated. And unlike the situation in shared hosting where different people share the same server, with dedicated hosting you are allowed to rent an entire server and use it all by yourself.
Dedicated hosting is designed to give website owners complete control of the web server. It is also a lot more expensive and is really needed for mid sized companies.
Going back to our book store. You could rent the entire building for your shop (like Barnes & Nobles) and you would not have to share the facilities with anyone else. You can see how this would be a lot more expensive.
Unless you run an extremely popular website or blog, Shared Hosting will most likely be the most appropriate choice for a small business owner.
Moving on, let’s look at selecting a hosting provider.
How do you choose a Hosting Provider?
Most hosting providers today will offer the 2 common hosting solutions discussed above. There are many many hosting providers out there. And when you start to compare them, you will find lot of them offering very similar packages.
The most important aspect to look for is customer service. Make sure they provide reliable 24/7 support. Your website needs to be up and running all the time.
You wouldn’t visit a mall where every so often there is a big sign at the entrance saying the mall is closed due to security issues. Or worse till there there is no sign, the doors are just shut.
So whatever hosting provider you choose make sure you read the reviews. And choose a provider who is known for keeping the lights on and responding to customer issues.
Is it time for you to get a hosting plan?
When should you get hosting plan?
The moment you are ready to build your own website you need a sign up for a hosting plan.
Every hosting provider, no matter what the hosting solution, offers different kinds of hosting plans. Hosting plans are just different features packaged and priced differently.
What hosting plan should you select?
As we discussed earlier choosing a plan is all about choosing the features You need to select the hosting plan that provides you what your website needs (i.e scripting languages, database, applications, control panel, enough space, email etc.)
Most hosting providers offer 3 different plans (starter, basic and advanced). Each plan has different features and is priced accordingly.
I have put together a generic list of features that I usually recommend to the average small business owner.
But I want to point out that your website goals should drive the features you select.
Hosting Schmosting I don’t want to deal with this hassle..
Well yes! that is a legitimate issue. And for people who do not wish to deal with all the hassle of selecting a hosting provider and a plan, then maybe a hosted solution like WordPress.com is the answer for you. Read more to find out if WordPress.com is right for you. Or why not contact me to learn what will work for you.
So let’s summarize
Hosting is nothing but renting space for your website. The shared hosting solution will probably work for most small business owners. Choosing a hosting plan is all about the features. Let your website plan guide you in choosing your features.
Are you ready to build your website? Then just like the bookstore, it’s time to get hosting and display your website.