When you’re creating a website, there are lots of choices: the choice of hosting provider, the type of web hosting, domain name, registrar, web developer or website builder (if you’re doing it on your own).
Out of all of these, web hosting is perhaps the most critical. Why? Because without a great hosting service, your website can’t function optimally. A poor web hosting service means slow load times, poor performance, and extensive downtime.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about web hosting and how to choose the service that best suits your needs.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is a service by a web hosting provider, like InMotion Hosting, who provides a home for your website and allows it to be viewed by the public. The web hosting provider hosts and stores your website on their servers, as well as provides additional services like email accounts and website building tools.
There are two things you need for visitors to be able to access your website: a hosting service and a domain name. A hosting service provides the server space where your website “lives.” Just like you live in an apartment or house, your website also needs a place to store all of its important files and data.
Web hosting is like a home for your website. It provides a place to store all of your site’s important files and data – media files, web apps, PHP files, HTML, text and more. In addition, it provides the connection needed so visitors can access your website via the internet.
A domain name, on the other hand, can be thought of as your website’s “address.” It’s the name that people type in their browser when they want to get to your site. Most hosting companies will help you acquire a domain name if you don’t already have one.
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 Type Of Hosting Plan Do I Need?
Now that you understand what web hosting is, we’re going to go over the different types of hosting available to you: shared, dedicated, and VPS. Each is designed for a different type of website, so it’s important to understand what each option offers.
Shared web hosting is the most economical option and it’s great for those just starting out. With a shared host, your website is stored on a server that also hosts hundreds of other websites.
The downfall to shared web hosts is that the other users might affect your own website’s performance. For instance, if one website experiences a spike in traffic, it could use up most of the available bandwidth, causing your site to slow down. In addition, if any one of the other sites gets a virus, it is more likely that your own site will also become infected.
If you like the idea of having a dedicated server, but you’re on more of a “shared server” budget, VPS might be 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. It’s sort of like an apartment building: every tenant shares the same overall physical structure, but they have their own dedicated space on the inside that no one else can access. InMotion Hosting offers both Managed Hosting (cPanel) and unmanaged VPS plans with root access for greater flexibility. For more information or to compare benefits, see our full post on managed vps vs unmanaged.
If you operate a high-traffic e-commerce store or your website requires a lot of custom software and apps, it makes sense to sign up for a dedicated hosting package.
When you buy a dedicated server, it is exclusively yours. You can use the server to host one website or dozens, depending on your needs – but there are no other users. All of the data and bandwidth are yours alone.
Can I Host a Website From My Own Computer?
Though you can build and locally host a website on your own computer, you will need more resources for it to be easily accessible to the public. To host your website from your home computer, it would need to be connected to the internet at all times. You would also need to ensure you have a dedicated IP address for your location. Once you ask for one of those from your internet service provider (ISP), they may force you to upgrade to a business plan, which can cost hundreds of dollars per month.
Your computer would also need to be set up with dedicated web server software and security software to block malicious intruders. In addition, you will also need to be able to troubleshoot any issues that may arise with hosting the website and allowing your computer to run 24/7. Unless you’re an advanced user and have the resources, hosting your own website isn’t cost-effective or feasible.
Domain Name vs Web Hosting
Securing web hosting for your website and purchasing a domain name are two separate steps when establishing a web presence. We’ve defined web hosting as the home where the website will live, but you will still need to purchase a domain name for the website. A domain is not only the name of your website, but it also serves as its address, allowing potential customers to find and view your website. Registering a domain is easy and can be done before or after purchasing a web hosting plan.
Tip: Get a free domain when you purchase a managed hosting plan from InMotion Hosting.
How Much Does Web Hosting Cost?
This is difficult to answer, as it really depends on the type of hosting service you want as well as the provider you choose. In general (as with all products), the better the hosting plan, the more you’ll pay. Some of the factors that may affect cost include:
- Bandwidth: 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.
- Disk space: how much space you have to store your website’s files (including emails, images and video, apps, and so on).
- Email accounts: included email accounts, especially if you want multiple addresses, may end up costing you.
- Security features: SSL certificates, anti-hacking software, and automatic backups are all often add-on services which may up your rate.
Choosing the Best Web Host
Once you know what type of web host you need, it’s important to find a reliable provider so your website remains accessible around the clock. Here are some features that great web hosting companies should offer:
- Exceptional uptime: Today, the gold standard for uptime is 99.95%. Anything less is considered unacceptable. InMotion Hosting’s uptime is at 99.99% in order to guarantee your website’s accessibility.
- First-class security: With the threat of cyber-attacks and malware assaults constantly looming, security is a huge concern. The best web hosting provider, InMotion Hosting, provides firewall and malware-scanning software, encrypts your data, includes a free SSL certificate, and constantly monitors networks.
- 24/7/365 support: A quality web host will provide live customer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. When your website experiences an issue, you should never have to wait to get it resolved, even if it’s the middle of the night. InMotion Hosting is number one in customer support, with our own in-house U.S.-based team at your disposal.
Choosing a great web hosting company is a vital part of your business’s online success. At InMotion Hosting, we offer a variety of web hosting plans to suit your business needs. Reach out today to find out which one might be right for you. Contact our live sales team either by phone at +1-888-321-4678 (continental US only), +1-757-416-6575 (international), or by our Sales Chat.