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What Is Web Hosting?

Web hosting is where your web content is stored on a web server which can be accessed by people around the world using a web browser such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and many more that are available.

A web hosting service provider will charge you a recurring monthly or annual fee which can vary considerably depending on your requirements. Be aware that many hosting providers offer a discounted initial rate that only applies for the first month and then increases to the full price thereafter. These hosting fees are on top of the recurring annual fee for the domain name you have registered to use for your website. They would also provide a client log-in system using a web browser and this would typically be used for accessing your account and creating support tickets if you had issues with maintaining your site, but not questions on the CMS you are using unless there were system compatibility issues with the Web Server and CMS or you have purchased a CMS hosting plan. Check what type of support is offered for any CMS hosting plan offered.

The web server is software installed on a dedicated computer with an operating system and many other software components that provide the technologies to serve web pages using HTTP to Internet visitors, email, and FTP file downloads. The most common web server software by far is Apache, and then Microsofts IIS and several other systems. Web servers are commonly kept in Data Centers which is a building with a high degree of security, standby power generators, air quality control, and other technologies for connecting to the outside world on the "Web". You could setup and maintain your own Web Server from a home or business that has a good Internet connection, but that would require a great deal of knowledge, hard work and time.

Types of hosting are Shared Hosting and Dedicated Hosting. Pricing for these services vary considerably.


hostgator There are a range of plans from basic web hosting to faster "cloud " plans, VPS and Dedicated hosting. A Wordpress hosting plan is also available.
Use the WebBurble promo code  BURB60  to receive a discount on the full price.

dreamhostAward winning hosting. Unlimited storage, bandwidth, SQL databases, domains and email accounts on all plans for legitimate website owners within a reasonable use policy. Shared, Virtual (VPS), Dedicated Servers, and Cloud Services available. Basic and fully managed Wordpress hosting also available.
bluehostShared, Cloud, VPS and Dedicated hosting services available as well as optimized Wordpress hosting. Each service having various plans to suit your requirements.
sitegroundStartup, Growbig and GoGeek plans are offered. Enhanced cPanel control panel integrated into the user area. Wordpress and Joomla! pre-installed hosting service plans with CMS tools in cPanel.
inmotion Offers low cost plans for startups and personal websites, Business, VPS and Dedicated Server plans. Also offers Web design services.

Above are some popular Web Hosting vendors. You can read the disclosure regarding these promoted sites.


Shared Hosting

Shared Hosting is where many Web sites are stored on individual servers. They share one IP address. The number of hosted sites and how often they are accessed and the capability of the computers hardware all determine how your website performs when someone on the Internet wants to view your web site.

Pricing can be as little as a few dollars a month to tens of dollars a month usually paid up front for one year. Generally, the more you pay the better the performance and service provided by the web hosting company. It would not be a good idea for your business website to have a hosting plan of $3.50 a month if it was used by many customers every day for purchasing your products.


Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting services can provide a single server where you can have full control of the Web Server and operating system. The performance would be far greater than Shared Hosting. Pricing will be in the hundreds of dollars a month or more depending on your requirements. There are different variations on this such as Virtual Private Servers (VPS) whereby the operating system and web server software runs in a virtual environment. You have full control but the physical server is shared with other VPS users. This can be a cheaper alternative to a fully dedicated web server and would still have a superior performance over Shared Hosting.


Hosting Locations

An important consideration is where the web server is to be located. You would want your web hosting to be on a server located in the country or area where most of your customers are located.

When an Internet user enters a web name in a browser the HTTP request traverses the "Web" through bridges, routers and gateways to the web host server where your web pages are located. The web server will take time to respond, the web page HTTP information will then be sent to the Internet users browser back through the "Web". Each path between the routers is called a "hop" and the delay can be measured in tens of milliseconds to hundreds of milliseconds. This all adds up to many seconds. The shorter the distance the less "hops" are taken, the faster the web page is "served" to the Internet visitor. Studies have found if a delay in displaying the web page is greater than 5 seconds the person is more likely to give up and go elsewhere.


Primary and Add-On Domains

When you sign up to a hosting service, they will configure a Primary Domain using your registered domain name. A good control panel such as cPanel, on Linux type servers, should be a part of the paid plan which allows you to manage the hosting of your website.

If you register another domain name then that name would be setup as an Add-On Domain to your Primary Domain if your hosting plan allows these extra domains. The Add-On Domain will work as a fully functioning independent web site just like your original primary domain and can be set up using cPanel very easily without help from the hosting service providor.  The Add-On Domain will be an empty  .com  directory off your Primary Domain in the WWW directory e.g.  mynewwebsite.com   . A CMS and web template etc. will need to be installed and setup for it to be functional as a website.


Considerations when determining a good web host service

  • Services provided can have several plans as a monthly subscription. Consider carefully which plan is suitable and is upgrading in the future possible.

  • Compatibility with your chosen Content Management System and are there any pre-installed CMS plans available.

  • Are there any plans available where you can have a "staging environment" where the website can be designed and tested before copying to the "live" environment.

  • How many extra web sites you want to have hosted besides the primary domain. These are called Add-On domains.

  • How many email accounts, databases, user accounts, hard drive space, bandwidth, memory.

  • Is a good web hosting control application such as cPanel included. This allows you to perform the configuration of the many different components such as databases, email accounts, files, domain, and much more. If the web hosting provider has cPanel available the Softaculous Apps Installer could also be installed which provides for a "demo"  for each CMS. The demo is a very good method of choosing which one to select without having to actually install it on your website.

  • Ensure FTP is included. FTP is where you can upload and download multiple files simultaneously and connect using an ftp client.

  • Ability to upgrade to a higher plan or dedicated server in the future when your site becomes busy and speed becomes an issue.

  • Does the plan allow for selecting where your website is hosted. Being able to select which Data Center location on different continents can be beneficial if most of your visitors are also located on that continent. This would make your website load faster because the physical distance is far less and the data does not need to traverse as many gateways throughout the "Web" .

  • Reliability. Measured in server up time as a percentage.

  • Quality of support and the response time. Searching on-line for comments for each service provider can be useful, but there can be many negative views that are not justified.

  • Value for money. Don't choose the cheapest if you want to have a reasonably fast and reliable website. Payment can be up-front for one year for a discounted plan.


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