What Every Small Business Needs To Know About Web Hosting

Written by Samantha Pointer

On February 10, 2019

If you want to have a successful business a website is essential. You can’t rely on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media sites to run your business. You need what I like to call a home base. A place to send people who are interested in what you have to say and sell. 

The first step in starting a website is to choose a web host and then the type of website you want to have.  Web hosts are computer servers that act as a storage center for your website. It stores your website files (HTML, PHP, etc.), video files, audio files, images, databases, etc. It is where your website lives on the internet.

A web hosting provider is the company that supplies the server that acts as your web host and connects that server to the internet. 

If you do a simple search for web hosting you will be instantly inundated with thousands of results that will just add to the noise and confusion surrounding web hosts. There are thousands and thousands of web hosting provider and each web hosting provider offers different types of web hosting plans.

There are 4 main types of web hosts, Shared, VPS, Dedicated, and Cloud. They all vary in type, features, and prices. Every business has different website needs and those needs will determine the type of web hosting you need.

Shared Hosting

Shared Hosting is probably the most common and most talked about type of web hosting. It is widely accepted as a great beginner option. Shared hosting is exactly what is sounds like, you share a physical web server with hundreds, and often thousands of other users and businesses. It is normally the cheapest hosting option but it does come with some drawbacks and concerns.

Pros

  • It’s affordable. Since shared web hosts can host thousands of users on one web server they are able to offer their services at a cheaper more affordable rate; a lot of times as little as $3.95 a month. It is very cost effective.
  • It’s beginner-friendly. It is very easy to get started with shared web hosting. It is very beginner-friendly and you can usually install programs such as WordPress with just one click. 
  • No real technical knowledge of web servers is needed.
  • It’s maintenance free. You are not required to do any maintenance on the web server.  Security, upgrades, and maintenance of the server are managed for you. (This does not include any updates to installed software such as WordPress.)

Cons

  • Security Concerns.  Because your website sits on a web server with hundreds or thousands of other sites, another site’s activities can affect your site.  Another person’s hacked site can easily become your hacked site.
  • Shared Resources. Shared space means shared resources such as CPU time, memory, and disk space.  If someone else’s site is hogging CPU time and memory it is going to affect the speed and load time of your site.
  • No Control of Server.  With shared web hosting you have no control over the server or it’s performance.  Your site will not be able to use resources beyond the maximum your web hosting package allows.
  • Limited Usage.  While on shared hosting you will be limited to the amount of CPU usage and bandwidth your website can use.

VPS

VPS stands for virtual private server and it is similar and yet very different from shared web hosting. It’s similar in that you are physically share a web server with other users, but, different in that you are not sharing resources.

A VPS is a physical computer that is divided into several virtual sections with a web server setup on each section.  This separates users’ accounts and allows each section to function independently as if it was on its own physical computer.

Pros

  • Security. Security concerns are less with a VPS than with shared web hosting since each user is compartmentalized into their own section. 
  • Limited Shared Resources. With a VPS server you have your own space on the web server and you don’t have to share with anyone else. This allows you to have more access to resources such as CPU usage and memory.
  • Greater Control of Web Server.  VPS servers allows you to have root server access.  This allows you to have greater control of your web environment.
  • Rapid Growth.  VPS is great if your site is growing rapidly. It allows you to grow as your business grows. Web host providers can easier allocate more space and resources to your VPS as business and traffic to your site increase.

Cons

  • Maintenance. Unless you choose a managed VPS plan, which usually cost a little more, you are responsible for managing everything on your VPS server including the web server software, updates, security, and more.
  • More Expensive.  While A VPS web host is more expensive than shared hosting, it is not super expensive and can be pretty affordable depending on the web hosting provider you go with.
  • Technical Knowledge.  Some technical knowledge is required with a VPS.  You need to know the basics of web hosting and how a website works. 

Dedicated Server

Using a dedicated server means you have a web server all to yourself.  You are basically renting a whole computer server to use for your website and your website alone. 

Pros

  • Security. Security is usually best on a dedicated server because you are the only one using it. If you practice safe security policies you shouldn’t have any problems.
  • All the Resources. Since you are the only user on the web server you get full access to all the resources. No waiting for CPU time or bandwidth.
  • Control of Server. With a dedicated server you maintain control of the server and performance. You can configure the web environment to the exact specifications you want.

Cons

  • Most Expensive. Using a dedicated server is the most expensive option since web hosts cannot offset that cost with other users.
  • Technical Knowledge. Technical knowledge is a must have with a dedicated server. Unless you have a managed account it is completely up to you to fix anything that goes wrong.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is relatively new. Clouding is a team of servers, which is called the cloud, that work together to host websites. It allows multiple computers to work together to handle the needs of any website. 

Pros

  • Very Scalable. It has the unlimited ability to handle high traffic or spikes in traffic without slowing your website.
  • More Resources. While you technically have to share resources with others like in a VPS, there are so many more servers involved and that means more resources are available.
  • Extremely Reliable. Because the cloud has a team of servers working for you, if one server goes down another one is waiting there is to pick up the slack.
  • Cost Efficient. You only pay for the resources you actually use. 
READ  6 Simple WordPress Security Tips

Cons

  • Advanced Technical Knowledge is a must have. Cloud hosting is not easy to setup and you must have knowledge of the resources you have and know when you will need more.

Web Host Providers

Once you have decided which type of web hosting you need, next is to decide which web host provider to go with. 

There are thousands of web host providers in the world today. Some of these are really big companies, others are owned and operated by two or three individuals, and some are even  resellers of of the bigger hosting companies. Some web host providers will even give you a free domain with your hosting account, so be sure to check that out as well. One of the important things to consider is your skill level and how much customer service and hand holding you might need.

You will also need to decide what type of website you want to have, such HTML or WordPress. I highly recommend using WordPress for your website. It’s easy to use, secure, and is highly customizable. WordPress can also be installed on almost any web host. When shopping for a web host provider just make sure they offer the minimum requirements for WordPress (most do!).

The minimum requirements are:

  • PHP version 7.2 or greater.
  • MySQL version 5.6 or greater OR MariaDB version 10.0 or greater.
  • HTTPS support

If most of this is Greek (or Geek) to you, the thing to do is ask the web hosting company if they support WordPress and if they have access to Cpanel.

One way to find good WordPress host is to ask your friends who have WordPress websites. Ask them to tell you about the uptime, the customer service, and other factors that you care about so that you can make a good choice about WordPress hosting. With so many choices it won’t be long until you find the WordPress hosting account that works for you.

My favorite WordPress web host provider is WPX Hosting. They are affordable and the support is amazing. They have helped me out several snafus quickly.

When making a choice about web hosting do your research, ask your friends and colleagues who they use, and remember, while it may take some work, you can always change your web host if you are not satisfied.

Below is a list of Web Hosting Terminology to help you with your search. Make sure you bookmark this page so you have a reference when on the hunt.

Terminology

  • Apache Web Server – This is server software that delivers your content to your readers via web browsers.
  • Bandwidth – Bandwidth is the rate of data transfer, or how fast your data is moving. It is usually expressed as the amount of data transferred in a second, such as kilobits per second or gigabits per second.
  • Cloud Hosting – Cloud hosting allows multiple computers to work together to handle the hosting needs of any website.
  • CMS – CMS which stands for content management system is an interface that allows you to manage your website content, for example add and edit pages, such as WordPress.
  • Cookie – A cookie is Information a web server gives a browser and used to save information about web usage.
  • cPanel – cPanel is a web hosting control panel that enables you to quickly and easily configure many account settings.
  • CSS – CSS stands for cascading style sheets and is programming code that adds additional detail and functionality HTML-based web pages, usually styling functionalities.
  • DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) – DDoS is an attack on your web server when multiple computers flood a server with network traffic hoping to bring down the server.
  • Dedicated Server – Type of web hosting server where the hosting company gives you your own server.
  • Disk Space – Disk space is how most space your website will how on the web server for storing files, such as HTML, images, videos, etc.
  • DNS – DNS stands for domain name services and translates human-readable domain names, such as yourwebsitenme.com, into numerical IP addresses that computers can understand, such as 64.233.160.0.
  • Domain Name – This is the uniform resource locator (url) where your blog can be found. This is what your readers will type in their browser to find your site. Ex: www.yourwebsitename.com
  • FTP – FTP stands for file transfer protocol and is a service for transferring files over the internet.
  • HTML – HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language and is the standard programming language used to create web pages.
  • HTTP – HTTP stands for hypertext transfer protocol) is the protocol used to transfer media across the internet.
  • MySQL – MySQL is a popular database system used to store data for content management systems such as WordPress.
  • Nameserver – A server that translates domain names into IP addresses using the DNS record.
  • PHP – PHP is a programming language that allow you to generate dynamic content by embedding code directly into the HTML of a web page.
  • Platform – The platform is the software that runs your website.  Some examples are WordPress.org, WordPress.com, SquareSpace, and Wix. This is where you write your content and set up the look and feel of your website.
  • SEO – SEO stand for search engine optimization and is the process that helps raise the ranking of your website in search engine results listings.
  • Shared Hosting – Shared web hosting is when you share a web server with other users.
  • Server – Servers that act as a storage center for your website. It stores your website files.
  • VPS – VPS stands for virtual private server and allows a user to share a web server with other users but not share resources.
  • Web Host – The web host is where your website lives online.
  • Uptime – The amount of time a website is fully functional.

Photo Credit: Campaign Creators

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