Web hosting is important because it is essentially the support system of your entire site.
Think of your website as the face of your business. Web hosting is the spine.
In order for the pretty face to function properly, the infrastructure must be sound.
To that end, hosting is important. Before you choose a hosting provider, however, you need to understand the three basic types of web hosting so you can make an informed decision.
Here is a brief look.
The first type is what is known as shared server hosting.
These may also be referred to as server farms.
Essentially, you are hosting your website on a server that has been sectioned off into many different pieces so other companies can host their sites on there as well.
Typically, shared server hosting environments are great for small start up websites, however they are not typically as secure since all of the sites share the same server.
That means, there is no real dedicated firewall that stops a cyber attack from getting to your site if they can hack into another site hosted on the same server.
Once they make it through one firewall, they can get in to your site too.
Plus, you don't have root access to you site in case something goes awry.
This could be problematic in the longrun if the hosting is not scalable, so keep that in the back of your head.
The good news, though, is most shared server hosting companies take this into consideration and have necessary precautions to prevent an attack on the front side.
The main issue tends to be one of performance.
Typically, shared hosting packages will not work for larger sites due speed issues.
If you have a large site, you will want to keep that in mind.
Virtual Private Server
The next type of hosting is what is known as virtual private server hosting.
A virtual private server is similar to a shared hosting provider in that your site will still be hosted on a server along with other sites.
However, the key difference here is root access.
This means security is much more stable for you, and the ability to improve overall site performance is there as well.
These are great for moderate or medium traffic websites that want to sell digital products and services online.
The speed factor, coupled with improved security, makes them a great choice for many start up websites.
You may pay a little more, but the extra security and speed are worth it in the long run.
Finally, we come to the most secure of all web hosting packages.
It is called dedicated server hosting.
In this type of hosting environment, your site is hosted on one specific, physical server.
The security level here is obviously much higher, and the quality of things like speed and resources are much better too.
These are great for large websites that do a lot of volume, however they are costly to operate and maintain in certain instances, so be forewarned.
If you are a start up, you might want to go with one of the other two options mentioned previously until your traffic and sales warrant making the switch to a dedicated server.
There are only three different ways a web hosting company can host your website.
Now, that you have an understanding of what a hosting company does with its servers, let's look at helping you choose the best web hosting company for your site.
There are only a few considerations to keep in mind, but they are important.
They will set your business up for long-term success online.
How to Choose the Best Web Hosting Company
Stay Away from free hosting
Many hosting companies offer free hosting, but in return they will place banner ads on your site.
If you want to look like a cheap fly-by-night business operation, then this is perfect for you. However, if you want people to take you seriously, pay the extra scratch, and get real web hosting.
It is the most professional route, and the only route, if you hope to make any real money in the long run.
The second thing to consider when choosing a hosting company is how much space you get with your hosting package.
Don't try to go overboard in the beginning and choose one with massive amounts of space. Just be smart about it.
If your page is going to host a lot of copy, then a smaller megabyte package would be fine for you. However, if your page is graphically rich or video driven, then you might want to choose a package that will provide you with a bit more room.
Additionally, check to see how many email addresses or sub domains are included with the hosting option you choose.
A certain number are always included as part of your basic hosting plan, and the number of goodies, with things like email addresses, tend to go up with the additional amount of space you purchase.
Make Sure it has FTP access
Most online web site building companies do not allow you to transfer your own files to a host.
Therefore, you need to choose a hosting company that allows for this.
Most people will transfer files from their computer to a web hosting companies web server via the hosting company's FTP port.
This really allows you to customize your site in the long run, making it specific to your products and services.
This might not make sense right now.
Don't sweat it. Just make sure that you choose a site that allows you to transfer your pages and other site resources via FTP.
That is the most important thing to keep in mind.
Uptime Is important
Most Hosting companies will give you a guarantee of their uptime.
They cannot legally claim to be up 100% of the time, but they can claim 99.99%.
Go with a hosting company that can at least make this claim.
If they can't, then you run the risk of having your site go down for extended periods of time.
When your site is not live, you are not making money.
If a web hosting company cannot give you some peace of mind regarding security, do not use them.
The good news is most of these will give you some sort of SSL guarantee or encryption certificate as a means of credentialing their authority.
You just want to make sure that your site is secure in the end. Better security keeps your site safe from attack so you can make money with your products and services.
As mentioned earlier, typically you will get several free email addresses with your hosting package.
However, you want to make sure that your hosting service can also facilitate auto-responders and mail forwarding.
You will want to make sure that things like POP3 gateways can be easily configured so all of your mail can be funneled to one location, or a folder of your choosing.
Email will be a powerful resource for building your business, therefore you want to make sure that your hosting company facilitates ease-of-use in this regard, rather than being a non-participant, or having lackluster capabilities.
Pay Attention to Price
This is probably the biggest trick when it comes to selecting a web hosting company.
Typically, hosting packages will fall in the range of somewhere between $15-$30 starting out.
You can get packages that are much more expensive or packages that are much, much cheaper.
However, when you swing to extremes, you are either paying for something that you don't need, or paying less for services that you might need in the long run.
To combat this, make sure you read what is included with each hosting package.
I love HostGator because they give me the ability to host unlimited sites under one account.
This is absolute gold at the end of the day because paying for separate hosting packages with other websites can really add up quick! However, make the best decision according to what suits your needs.
I'm just giving you a real-world example of what I do, because it has worked for me.
This may seem like a lot of information, but once you begin to visit different hosting companies, you will see how easy it is to compare their services.
Typically, they will offer three levels of hosting services:
Enterprise Hosting Package
Simply choose the one that works best.
Most companies will give you the option to scale up or down at any time, for a small fee of course.