Hosting is not all the same!
What is Hosting?
Hosting is where all websites store the files that are needed to view the website. Every website must have a hosting account – it is where the images, database, and structural files are stored. Hosting is so much more however. It can determine the speed of your website, it can hold all your emails, it can even hold more than 1 website if needed. Having a good host is important for the performance of your website.
Does it matter where I choose to get hosting?
This is another question I get almost daily. Choosing the right host is critical to the performance of your website. There are a few very important things to consider when selecting a host:
- Can I call the company for support when needed? There are several hosting companies out there that do not allow calls. All support is through a ticket system. This is way slower to get your issue resolved than being able to talk to someone on the phone. I personally won’t do business with a company I can’t call.
- Up to date systems – Over the past year I have had to move people from one host to another because the systems that the first host was running would not support the most current version of php – the program that many websites are created upon. Php 7.0 and above runs much faster and will support current technology. Some hosts are limited to php 5.6.
- SSL Certificates – SSL’s encrypt information leaving your website – this could be from a contact form or from purchasing a product. It used to be that only ecommerce websites had to worry about getting an SSL. Now the security factor is calculated into your website rankings in a search engine. Now every website needs to have an SSL certificate. All hosts (to my knowledge) offer SSL’s – some are free, some come with an hosting package, and some are an upgrade. Something to consider when choosing a host.
- What kind of email is offered? Some hosts make you use Office 365 to get email. This is great if you already use Office 365 (current version of Outlook), but if you are not a Windows user you might not want to change. Get a host that will offer email integration into whatever system you are used to using. Better yet – separate your email from your hosting account entirely. I have mine running through Google.
- Cpanel vs other: Cpanel is the most used interface with a server. Cpanel is the program that allows a non-techy person to be able to set up databases, create email addresses, upload website files, and manage resources for your website. There are hosts that do not use cpanel and they will be more difficult for the average person to work with.
There are many more considerations – these are just a few that apply to everyone.
Types of Hosting
There are many different types and levels of hosting. A few of the common ones that you will see at most all hosting companies are:
- Shared Hosting: This is the cheapest and most common hosting available. As the name implies – your website will be shared on the same server as thousands of other websites. Generally this is not a problem for a small website. This type of hosting is good for small informational websites or very small ecommerce website. If your website is larger, needs more resources, or has very sensitive data this is not a good choice for you.
- VPS – Virtual Private Server: Most hosting companies offer these. They require some server knowledge and are usually the responsibility of you to set up and maintain. They offer a server environment in the cloud that one can add specific software for specific needs of a website. Because they are not shared they are faster. They are also usually scalable – meaning you can pay for more resources as your website grows.
- Dedicated Server: These are the ultimate in website hosting. They are for huge websites that need lots of resources. They are also very technical – most hosts do not configure them for you (at least not for free).
- WordPress Hosting – This is a fairly new hosting designation. WordPress is becoming one of the most popular website creation platforms. WordPress hosting is usually faster resources (WordPress can use a lot of resources that other websites don’t need). It is good and bad – depending on how you create your WordPress website. This type of hosting is for the person that does not know how to install WordPress on the account, and is good with standard WordPress features. The Host installs WordPress for you and gives you admin access. Then you are required to set up the website as needed – or you have a website designer set it up for you. The drawback is that your site is getting created live on your server. I do not have my clients purchase this type of hosting because there is no way to install an already created website.
There are literally thousands of hosting companies out there to choose from. over the years I have tried many of them and left most for various reasons. Some are difficult to work with (don’t use cpanel), some have no support, some are just slow (not current servers), and some I just did not like.
The one I am currently using (and have been for about 5 years) is Hostgator. Yes I am an affiliate as well. I like Hostgator because:
- They have 24/7 support that is here in the US (Texas I believe). I can call them and generally get someone knowledgeable enough to be able to work through any issues I have. All the support people I have dealt with also speak English as a first language. I find this helpful.
- Their pricing is very reasonable compared with many other hosts. They offer all levels of hosting for a variety of clients.
- They use cpanel which makes it easy to manage.
- They run the most current software so I can use php 7.2 and not worry about the WordPress technology outpacing the hosting technology.
When do I need to get a hosting account?
When you hire me to create your website I will create it in a testing environment (which is on my Hostgator account). When the website is ready to go live – everything has been approved by you – that is when you need to get your own hosting account. I will connect it to your domain and move the website files from my testing server to your newly purchased server. For most of my clients I recommend the Business Plan offered at Hostgator since it comes with an SSL and all the resources you will need for your new website.