Put simply, web hosting is essentially a storage service where the files of your website are kept and delivered from to make your website work. Web hosting services and packages come in a wide range of configurations, all suited to different applications and types of websites. A small personal blog does not need the same hosting set up as a large e-commerce website or web app.
Web hosting accounts are generally stored on large servers in locations called Data Centres. In a single data center, there may be hundreds of servers hosting thousands of websites. Think of a data center as a room full of many computer hard drives storing files for websites being accessed by people all over the world. It is therefore crucial that these data centers are kept safe and secure and operating 24/7 to ensure websites do not go offline.
Why you need web hosting
Anyone that is running their own website will need a hosting account of some sort. The files and software required to make your website work need to be stored somewhere and that is what a web hosting account does. Choosing the right hosting account for you will really depend on the type of website you are operating, for example, if you are running WordPress then dedicated WordPress Hosting would be the best choice. A quick search for the best web hosting companies will bring up many options where you will be able to review the options and choose the right package for you.
Choosing the right web hosting account
As mentioned above, it’s best to choose an account that is suitable for the type of site you are running. It’s no point paying hundreds of dollars a month for a dedicated server when you are operating a small personal blog that can be hosted for only a few dollars a month.
When deciding on a hosting account it’s best to look at the following features:
How much disk space you will require.
This is how much storage you will need to keep all your files
Location of the servers.
Speed and website load time is an important factor when it comes to running a website. It is recommended that you choose a hosting provider with servers as close to your target audience location.
Bandwidth put simply is the amount of data sent and received from your hosting package. Every time someone visits your website they will be shown images and other content that needs to be transmitted from the server which will use bandwidth. Many basic hosting accounts will offer unlimited bandwidth, but make sure you check the fine print on your package.
Support is a major factor especially for anyone that is not skilled in online technology. If there is an issue with your hosting account it’s good to know that your hosting company is contactable and offers good support to assist you.
Types of Web Hosting
There are many types of web site hosting and it can be a bit confusing trying to decide what is best for you. The most common hosting accounts are shared hosting. This is where many websites will be stored on the same server. The ability to store many websites allows hosting companies to keep the costs down for their customers. The downside to shared hosting is that having many sites on one server can reduce the performance of the server and may affect the performance of your website. Dedicated hosting, on the other hand, is where you have a server all to yourself. This is great if you have a greater level of technical knowledge and can manage the server yourself. A dedicated server can be expensive, but if you are running a large site that needs performance and security then this is the best option.
Are there any free hosting services?
There are rarely any free web hosting services available, as the cost to run hosting servers is not cheap. Free hosting accounts such as WIX but will be limited in their functionality and features. Just because they aren’t free doesn’t mean you have to pay a lot either.