Your website resides on a computer connected to the internet that will send interested parties each part of your site (images, text, video etc) when they type in your URL to the address bar or clink the link a search engine. This computer is known as a ‘host’ and silently ticks away serving up the internet. There are few different ways they are purchased and managed. Here is a brief insight.
There are several options when it comes to the physical setup of your hosting and your hosting company may specialise in one or more method or offer solutions from all available options.
Dedicated servers provide your hosting on a single dedicated machine that is entirely under your control. This offers more flexibility but comes with a (generally) bigger cost.
Shared hosting runs your site along side others. The advantage of this is that it shares the cost and reduces expenditure – although it will have to share resources with the others on the physical machine.
Virtual Hosting abstracts away from the idea of a physical machine that will run your site and allows the creation of ‘virtual’ machines within software. Due to the software nature of the management of these virtual devices, many physical machines can be added or removed without affecting the virtual hosts contained within. This offers good flexibility and ability to respond to changing demands but it can come at a cost.
While Virtual Hosting is popular right now, make sure that it fits your needs before making a costly decision.
Many companies will advertise that they offer full-service web hosting. This service includes providing you with web space, transfers, email, calendars and many reporting and management tools. They may also provide content maintenance services as well as 24/7 phone support. You may also find that a company will offer web design and development services to ensure that you get the help building your site as well.
It’s important to know the speed at which the pages on your website load. Slow loading pages can affect your search engine ranking as most search engines (eg Google, Yahoo, MSN) uses site speed as a metric for determining rankings.
Additionally they use the time on your site to help determine the relevance and quality of the content. If people are only on your site for a few seconds and then leave because it takes too long for a page or certain graphics to load, you get penalised again.
There are a number of reasons for slow page load speeds. The first is that you have poorly optimised graphics, including photos and videos. The second is that the web host you are using isn’t giving you enough bandwidth or CPU. It might be worth assessing these resources and seeing if increasing them would serve you well.
You own your domain, your content and IP. Where they reside is completely up to you. Changing this location is straightforward and should be fairly painless provided you know the details of your domain name registration and optionally your DNS.
Web hosts and associated third-parties often provide add ons that augment your site in ways unavailable to a bare-bones setup.
For example, Cloudflare provide a content delivery network (CND), firewall, caching and Denial-Of-Service protection. It is able to provide a layer of security, a failover for when your host has issues and peace of mind when it comes to attacks against your site..
You can also opt for Amazon Web Services (AWS). This provides you with a cloud services platform that gives you data storage, content delivery, and the ability to scale your business up or down to suit traffic.
You need to review the cost of web hosting so that you can budget appropriately. Often, companies will provide you with a discount if you pay yearly rather than monthly. You can find very low cost hosting providers but you will be trading cost for service and support. If you run in to a problem, they will likely leave you high and dry. It is nice to have a phone number you can call with a familiar and supportive voice waiting on the other end. You can then explore the other options that are available, such as virtual private servers. The amount of storage, power and bandwidth that you request will increase the price.
In the end, you need to do your homework. Determine what you need for your business as well as what you can afford. Web hosting isn’t something you want to put to chance, which is why it can be beneficial to work with professionals who can help you along every step of the journey.
Learn more about hosting and how to determine your needs by contacting KND Digital today.