What are web hosting services? And do you really need them to create a website?
Bottom line: yes. If you want people to be able to access your website via the internet, you must have web hosting services.
Here’s everything you need to know about web hosting, why you need it, and how to choose a provider:
What is Web Hosting?
There are two things you need for visitors to be able to access your website: a hosting service and a domain name.
A web host is a company that provides the technology and services necessary for a website to be accessed via the internet. Websites are hosted on special computers called servers – it’s where all of the software and files are stored that run your website.
When a visitor wants to view your website, they have to type a website address, or domain name, into their internet browser. Their computer will then connect to your server, and your website will be delivered to them via that browser.
Without the server provided by your hosting service, or the address used to get there, no one would ever be able to view your website on the internet.
What Are the Different Kinds of Hosting Providers?
When it comes to web hosting, there are hundreds of different providers and lots of different services – many of them are good quality. The key to choosing the right service for you is to understand your own website and the resources it requires.
Here’s a quick overview of the different types of web hosts and what you can expect from each:
- Shared web hosting: Shared hosting is when numerous different websites all share the same server space. Because users are splitting resources, it’s generally the cheapest option available – but great performance isn’t guaranteed.
Why? Because when you share resources with other websites, anything that affects them can also affect you. For example, if one website on the server is using more than its fair share of the resources, it will take away from what your site can use. That means slow load times, poor performance, and maybe even downtime.
- Dedicated web hosting: With a dedicated hosting plan, an entire physical server is devoted to your website (or websites) and their needs. Other users don’t affect your site’s performance and you can customize the server however you want (including operating system, software, apps and more). The only real downside is that the cost for a dedicated server can be prohibitive for many small business owners.
- VPS web hosting: VPS is often considered a happy middle ground. This option allows you to share a physical machine with other users, but you get your own dedicated portion of the resources. That means that no matter how much traffic the other websites receive, they can never infringe on your share.
- Cloud web hosting: Cloud hosting is quite similar to shared hosting services, only instead of sharing one physical server, users share a bank of servers, typically spread out in several different geographic locations. The upside to this is not only that resources are virtually unlimited, but that there is virtually no chance of ever losing service.
What Features Should You Expect from a Hosting Service?
No matter what kind of hosting service you choose, there are certain basic features you should always look for, including:
- Bandwidth: Bandwidth is the amount of data your website will be able to process. The more bandwidth you have, the more traffic your website will be able to handle. How much bandwidth you need depends on your particular website. For example, if you don’t host large media files or do a lot of streaming, and you get less than 1,000 visitors a day, you can probably get away with 10 GB a month. But as your site grows and receives more visitors, that number will go up.
- Disk space: How much space you have to store your website’s files (including emails, images and video, apps, and so on) likewise depends on your business’s website and its needs. Ideally, most websites should try to stay under 50-60KB. This is because some people are still using dial-up connections, and anything over 60KB will take far too long to load on their end.
- Email accounts: Your hosting service should come with at least one included email account, preferably more. It’s essential that whatever communications you send to your clients or customers come from a professional email address and it’s 100% easier when you can keep everything in-house.
- Security features: SSL certificates, anti-hacking software, and automatic backups are critical to keeping your website safe and secure and a great hosting service will include all of those services with your plan.
Now that you understand what web hosting services are and why you need them, it’s time to start looking for a provider. At InMotion, we offer a variety of plans to suit your business needs. Reach out today to find out which one might be right for you.