Hosting For Dummies
It’s time that someone talks “normal” language when it comes to website hosting. Too many times we feel like we’re at the local mechanic getting are car fixed and having to take the mechanic’s word that “there is a problem with your vehicle.” We don’t know what they’re talking about, never heard of that part before, not sure if they are ripping us off or charging fairly, you get the point. We are here to talk to you like a human, so that you are aware of your options. We will also give you some great advice that will save you lots of money, because a lot of times you will be talked into buying a bunch of add-ons that you don’t really need.
Too many times we feel like we’re at the local mechanic getting are car fixed and having to take the mechanic’s word that “there is a problem with your vehicle.”
Founder of Webstuffguy.com
What is Hosting?
A topic we have to explain to owners of a new website. Your website needs a home. That home is a server. This special server talks to the internet via a unique DNS address. This is how your website is displayed anytime someone types in your domain. (We’ll discuss domains in another article) When your website designer builds you a website, it comes in the form of thousands of files. These files must sit in a “server” where it “hosts” your website files. These files speak a language that forms a beautiful website, but it cannot be seen on the world wide web if you do not have hosting.
Do I Really Need Hosting?
If you want your website to display on the world wide web, then yes, you need hosting. Even the largest companies in the world cannot escape this truth. Every website you visit is paying for hosting, so it’s not just you. While some of this sounds confusing, your trusted website designer should be able to handle all of this for you. But just understand that your website NEEDS hosting period.
How Much is Hosting?
Along with the fact that every website needs hosting, there is another truth. And that is that you will pay YEARLY for your hosting if you want it stay live on the internet. There is not a one time fee for hosting. Most people or companies set their hosting to auto-renew every year just in case they forget to pay by accident and their website shuts down. Most hosting companies offer incentives to sign up with them so you may save money your first year of hosting. After the specials all go away, expect to pay anywhere from $115 to up to $300 a year in hosting- all depending on who you decide to go with and what matters to you. Keep reading.
What Happens to my Website if I don’t Pay for Hosting?
If you do not decide to renew your hosting after a year of it being live, your hosting company will discontinue the service and cut off your website’s connection to the internet- meaning your site will go down. If this happened accidentally, then you have a reasonable amount of time to pay what you owe and get it connected again no problem. If you wait too long to renew it, you may lose all the files in that server and you will be blindsided with costs as you will not only have to pay for a new server, but your website designer (assuming they have a backup of your site) will have to re-upload all your files back to the server. You will surely have to pay them for that. So bottom line is- don’t ever let your hosting expire. Keep an updated credit card on your account every year to avoid your site going down. Also keep an updated email address on file as well, as most companies will give you several fair warnings well before your hosting expires.
Who Can I Trust to Host My Website?
This is a very important question, and an area where people make the most mistakes. It matters where you host your website. Our advice is that you go with a 3rd party hosting company, and avoid the hosting packages that many website design companies “throw in” as part of their packages. This is because any website design company that offers you hosting will give you the same server that any 3rd party hosting company will offer you, only they will jack up the price to make a profit on top of it. You are paying for the same thing.
What Happens When My Web Design Company Hosts My Website?
Apart from the warning above, another negative is the following: When your website designer hosts your website, you are essentially tied at the hip for as long as your website exists. This means that if things don’t work out between the both of you, you still have to deal with them because YOUR Website is on THEIR servers. It’s sort of like an ugly divorce when kids are involved- you will always be in contact with your ex-spouse.
The Benefit of a 3rd Party Hosting Company
When building a website and the topic of hosting comes up, make sure to let your website designer know that you want the site hosted on your personal hosting account. Create an account with a Godaddy, Host Gator, Blue Host, or any of your favorite hosting companies and put a credit card on your account. Once that is done, give permission to your website designer to pick out the best hosting for you. Now you are keeping them honest- they have no dog in this fight. They will pick out the hosting you need and can’t worry about any commission they make on top of it. Also, when things no longer work out with your website designer, you can walk away from them freely knowing that your files are safe on YOUR hosting account. Be sure to change your passwords though and remove any permissions they have to access your account or hosting.
What About All the Hosting Add-Ons? Do I Really Need Them?
Let’s go over some of them here and give you a description followed by a recommendation:
- Hosting on a Private Server: Basically means that your server is not part of a community of servers, as is usually the case when you buy basic hosting. The benefit here is that when your company has a problem and all their servers go down, you may not be affected by it and your site still is up and running. Your site may also run a little faster which makes Google happy, but you end up paying as much as 3 times the normal fee for hosting.
- Storage and Backup Services: You can upgrade your hosting to more storage if your website uses a lot of data or if your website is absolutely huge. Our advice is to start with basic hosting. If you quickly start running low on space, you will surely be notified. Backup services should come free with your hosting and are usually automatic. So be careful about having to pay for it. The bottom line is that you ALWAYS want to have a backup of your website.
- SSL Certificate: Not such a big deal a few years ago, it is now essential for every website to have site security. Google made that literally mandatory as it has become a ranking factor for good SEO (Search Engine Optimization). We can get into all of the details, but bottom line is that we definitely recommend it. Usually around $75 a year.
Who Are Some Good Hosting Companies I should Consider?
Everyone has their own preference, and every website designer has already dealt with numerous companies and may be able to recommend a good one for you. The bottom line is make sure to do a little research. But here are some things to consider for those times when your website goes down unexpectedly.
- Does your hosting company offer 24 hours support?
- When reaching out to them, can you call them directly or do you have to “submit a ticket” and just wait for their response?
- Do they have a good reputation?
- Read PC Magazines most recent article on top hosting companies here.
We hope we helped you in making a choice of who will host your website. Stay tuned for more advice. Have a topic? Feel free to leave your ideas in the comment section below.