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Beginners guide to buying web hosting


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By: Adam Thacker in Cloud Hosting

Posted on: October 03rd 2019 at 14:12pm


When you purchase your first web hosting package, you may find yourself drowning in technical ‘jargon’. Unless you speak jargon, it can be difficult to know which package is right for you or your business. Hosting your first website is a learning curve, but once you learn it, you won’t forget it. Let us offer you a crash course in web hosting and be your translator to the terminology used - we want to help you host your own website, successfully.

Some useful terms:

Servers – Powerful computers which are almost always online and usually stored in a data centre

Data Centre – Building where all the servers are stored and connected to high speed and bandwidth internet connections

Bandwidth – The amount of data transferring between the server and the visitor.

CMS - Content Management Systems are pieces of software that make building your website and managing it easier. These include Joomla alongside many more, as well as the most popular CMS, WordPress.

Domain name – The easy to remember name that is used to access your website for example: krystal.uk

Sub domain - A subdomain enables you to create sub-sites separate from your main website. An example would be blog.krystal.uk where blog is the subdomain.

URL- the technical name for a link, either to a site e.g. https://krystal.uk or to a subpage within a site e.g. https://krystal.uk/cloud-hosting

What is web hosting?

 

Web hosting is a service that allows your website to be seen publicly on the world wide web, via a URL or domain name that they visit. Hosting providers host (funny that!) your website files on their servers, which allow your website to be seen on the internet by users around the world. Technically, you don’t need to use a hosting provider, you can indeed become your own hosting provider (with a bit of studying!) however, setting up your own server is complex and you’d potentially leave yourself vulnerable to a slow website or even security concerns.

Why do I need a hosting provider?

 

All websites on the World Wide Web need a place for them to be hosted. Hosting providers typically have access to much faster internet than your average home, as well as multiple connections to their servers providing redundancy to a scale that is not commonplace in most residential homes.

If you were to host your own website at home, it’s certainly possible, however you will be restricted by your internet connection, power consumption and the performance and speed. This will affect users accessing your website. If you were to have a power cut, or an internet outage, the lack of redundancy would mean your website would also go offline and be inaccessible to your users for that period of time. Not only that, but unless you’re confident that you’ve secured your website and the computers they’re hosted on well, you may leave yourself vulnerable to viruses or malware infections. This is where hosting providers come in, as they handle all of these worries for you in the background.

When you think about the files that are on your computer or mobile device, typically they can only be accessed by yourself or a user with direct access to the device (by either sitting at the desk where the computer is or holding the phone). You may have some files on there that you wish to share with the public, such as photos from your last holiday. Currently, only you or the people around you can see those files if you show them directly.

Having these files hosted with a hosting provider would allow you to share them with anyone, just by sending them the URL of the files. Your ‘Holiday 2018’ folder then becomes www.your-website.com/holiday2018 and would contain all of your photos, allowing you to give the link to anyone you wish to view the photos at any time. Unlike when these files are stored on your personal computer or device, it is important that these files are stored on faster computers that are able to handle multiple requests to see these files at once. Without this, some users may be unable to access these files or even cause slowness for those accessing them due to the large number of requests. These faster computers are anywhere from 10x to 25x faster than your average household computer, and can therefore provide more to those viewing your website. We call these faster, more powerful computers ‘Servers’.

When you buy a web hosting package, you are buying an amount of space on one of these servers to store your files. This server will keep the files that make up your website online for anyone to access as you wish.

What are the different types of hosting?

 

Hosting comes in all shapes and sizes. A small local business would only require a small amount of a server to host their website compared to companies such as Facebook, who in comparison will have multiple data centres full of servers specifically for use by them. Take a look at some of the different types of hosting below:

Shared Hosting – Where a single server is split between multiple clients’ websites and each client pays for the bit of the server they use. This is great for a small business or website that doesn’t hold a lot of information or large files.

Reseller Hosting – Similar to shared hosting, however you resell the shared space on the server as if you owned the server. Commonly used by creative businesses such as web development agencies or starter hosting companies.

VPS Hosting – A VPS stands for Virtual Private Server,  it’s a virtual machine that is hosted on a physical server. These provide more control to the user over the reseller and shared hosting plans.

Dedicated Server Hosting – Typically the most expensive type of hosting, where you have full access to the physical server all to yourself. This is only normally required for large projects or those with a particularly large number of visitors that want the very best in performance.

Managed Hosting - Similar to VPS Hosting, managed hosting typically is a pre-built server (or container) designed for your specific use case scenario, giving you optimal out of the box performance. One example of this which we offer would be our Onyx solution, tailored for WordPress.

Unless you are looking to start a hosting business of your own (in which case the reseller plan may be suitable for you), or unless you have multiple websites you’re looking to host at once, you will likely want to start looking at a shared hosting plan. Over time, if your business were to grow or your website requirements increase, you can upgrade to any of the other hosting options, with little to no hassle in moving. Typically however, as with most things, the higher you climb, the more that hosting plans tend to cost.

What do I get with web hosting?

 

Let's focus now on the packages we offer and the main features that come with them. Whilst features can vary between each package, it’s important to understand what each feature means so that you can make an informed decision when purchasing. You need to make sure the size of your website, is less than what is advertised as on the hosting package. This way your website will run smoothly. But you may want to consider a little extra room for growth!

Disk Space – This is the amount of space you can use on the server. For example, if you choose a package with 5GB of space, you will have 5GB of space to use across your web services for website content, databases and e-mails.

Storage Type (SSD vs. HDD) - There are two types of storage typically used in hosting. Storage is important as it’s where all of your content is located once you upload it to our servers. When choosing a hosting plan, you’ll want to look for one offering SSD hosting, although it does come at a small price premium. SSD stands for Solid State Drive, these are much faster than the original Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and contain no moving parts, this prolongs the life of the drive, increases reliability and performance. 

MySQL Databases – If you have a website that uses a CMS such as WordPress or Joomla, or you have information or data that would need storing somewhere, then you will need a database or multiple databases. Most websites only require one database to function correctly.

RAM & CPU – This is the amount of resources allocated to your hosting package. In simple terms, the more RAM and CPU resources you have available to your website, the more concurrent users can view your website at one time.

Entry Processes – This is the amount of concurrent scripts that can be running at one time. For example, if it takes 1 second to load your homepage and you have a limit of 25 entry processes. You can process up to 25 visitors a second. Once the page has loaded for one person, this allows another visitor to enter. This isn’t the same as the number of concurrent visitors - it is only affecting the number of people who can be loading your page at the exact same moment.

Email Addresses – A core part of having your own website is also having your own branded e-mail address. With your domain, most hosting providers also provide e-mail addresses so you can use yourname@yourdomain.com rather than free e-mail solutions such as Gmail or Hotmail. These are typically included in your hosting package.

SSL Certificates – Very important in 2019, SSL certificates encrypt your website traffic. This means that any data entered in to your site is secured so 3rd parties cannot eavesdrop on the connection and siphon the data. This is especially important where payments are taken on the website.

You’ve picked you package, what about a domain?

 

A domain name is arguably more important than the hosting package itself. It needs to be related to the website you are creating and preferably short and easy to remember. This is because asking your friends, family, or customers to visit eastlondonsbesttearoom.co.uk might not only be a mouthful, but hard to remember. Whereas eastlondontea.co.uk is shorter, easier to remember, and more importantly, easier to type!

There are over 1,200 domain extensions from your well known .co.uk’s, .com’s and .org’s to the new gTLDs such as .entertainment, .food and . rich. The newer gTLDs tend to be more expensive, however you are more likely to find a domain name that matches your brand. For example, Adamscafe.com is currently not available, but, adams.cafe is available and meets all the recommended criteria above.

Now that you have an understanding of the terminology, you’re ready to purchase your hosting package and domain! If you have any further questions, please get in touch with us. Our support team is available 24/7!