Web Hosting, Part 1
You now have a domain name and are ready to put up your website to sell your product or provide that critical information. To do that, you need a web host so you can upload your website.
There are almost as many articles about web hosting as there are web hosts. So which information do you use to pick a web host? We’ll try to simplify it for you but keep in mind that there are many parts of web hosting not covered here.
For those who may be a little less technically inclined, here are some basic definitions:
A server is a large computer system that has a large amount of disk space. Some web hosts have multiple servers. There are specific types of servers used for eCommerce, gaming, music, etc.
A web host is someone who sells a certain amount of space on their server and provides a range of services.
Web hosting applications are those computer programs that are included on the server and may be available for you to use depending on the plan you pay for.
A web hosting plan is a combination of services bundled into one product for you to pay for and use. It is similar to buying a car with different options you can choose to include.
A web host account is simply an account that shows what you get on your plan when you pay for it. You get a unique ID and password to get access to your account and sometimes the files on the server.
Bandwidth is the amount of information you can pass through a connection, like uploading (new music for website visitors), downloading (visitors downloading your music), or running a file (a visitor looking at a website page). Web hosts sell, based upon anticipated usage, as Gigabytes (GB) per month allocated to your plan. (We’ll cover this in a little more detail in Web Hosting, Part II).
Types of Web Hosts
Some web hosts are run by a person or companies that own their own server. They sell space on their hard drive to those who want to load up their website or blogging files. In the general terms, this is called “shared” web hosting. That means more than one website is loaded onto that web host’s disk drive.
Other web hosts are actually resellers. This means that the “web host” is selling space on someone else’s server. For example, the reseller is located in one State and the servers are physically located in a different State and owned by a different company. When they sell the space, they get a commission for each customer from the actual server owner. So when there is a problem, you may not be able to get it resolved with the person or company that you paid for your web-hosting plan. Based on experience, you will be very lucky if you go without having any problems, even with the most technically proficient web host.
Customer / Technical Support
Customer and technical support is important in determining which web host you are going to use. If you are running a website for your business, a technical problem with your website may cause you to lose customers. If you are not sure about your website account, getting customer service to explain in plain language about a change to your account is always most helpful.
Some web hosts have elaborate systems set up to handle technical and customer service issues. Some even include a good “help” system as well. At the other end of the spectrum, technical support and/or customer service consists of filling out an online form, usually a “support ticket”, sending it by email, and then waiting for an answer. There are many web hosts in between.
Web Host Plans
There are general, business, eCommerce and personal plans. Mostly, business and eCommerce plans will include a shopping cart application with higher bandwidth and disk space although you will pay a higher price for these. Virtually all plans include email, although the number of email accounts included in the plans may vary.
If you decide later that you need to add a specific application, it may cost you additional to add to the plan you initially pay for. In some cases, you may have to pay, even if you add the application yourself to your website. Depending upon the application, you might need to pay for an upgrade to increase disk space and bandwidth.
That covers just some basic elements of web hosting. In the next segment, we will cover some additional details about web hosting.