Your website needs a place to “live.” Give it a home with a web hosting service.
Today, we’re going to talk a little about web hosting. What is it? Do you need it? Why is it important? Where can you get it?
A web hosting service is a business which provides the technology to allow a website to show on the Internet. Every website out there is hosted on a server or a combination of servers. A server is a piece of computer hardware or software (in the case of virtual servers) which provides functionality for software on other devices or “clients”. A client, to make is simple, would be the various devices we use to access the information from the servers. The software we use to get that information from web servers are called browsers. Examples of browsers are:
- Google Chrome
- Microsoft Edge (or *shudder* Internet Explorer – which has been deprecated, so stop using this!)
- Mozilla Firefox
- Safari (Mac)
- And more.
Types of Hosting
Now that we kinda understand the flow for how websites basically broadcast information from the server to your device, let’s talk about the different tiers of hosting. Here is a list of the basic types you’ll encounter:
- Shared Hosting – This, by far, is the most popular form of hosting. Here your website will be stored and shared on the same server as multiple other websites. All of the sites use the same resources including RAM (Random Access Memory) and CPU (Central Processing Unit). But, they can run different type of software (i.e. WordPress vs. Drupal vs. other web builders).
This is the most affordable type of hosting. If you see hosting as low as $2 per month (run away) or something of that ilk, you can likely bet that it’s a shared hosting plan.
- WordPress Hosting – Most hosts these days are offering Managed WordPress Hosting or WordPress-Optimized Hosting. This means that it’s intended to keep your software (WordPress version, theme, and plugins) up-to-date. They are usually shared hosting packages with a little extra “stuff” to keep those elements updated.
I personally haven’t had great luck with this since some plugins may not quite be ready to be updated and can cause conflicts from time-to-time breaking elements of the site. However, since I changed hosts recently, I’ve discovered that an unmanaged WordPress-optimized hosting solution is pretty wonderful.
- Virtual Private Server Hosting – A VPS is the next level up. While the site is built on a server with other websites, it has its own dedicated storage space and configuration. More customization is available at this level.
However, if you aren’t an advanced user, I would steer away from this. It can get costly if you need support to configure your instance correctly.
- Dedicated Server Hosting – This is a more expensive way to get all of the control over your site. Other shared solutions may have issues if you have large spikes of traffic, but a dedicated server will likely be insulated from that problem. But, you may require someone with experience in managing dedicated servers such as an IT person or team to support your online presence.
- Cloud Hosting – Cloud hosting is an interesting animal. It spreads resources over many different servers as a network. It’s a very scalable option, and it’s a fairly reliable option too. But, the more your website needs, the more you’ll pay – but you only pay for what you need.
- Managed Hosting – like the WordPress Managed Hosting mentioned earlier, this level of service has the company maintain all of the elements of your server.
- Private Hosting – I’ve worked for two companies in the past where they ran their own servers. They had servers in a chilly, dust-free room with redundancy in an off-site location. I personally feel this opens you up to a lot of risk, is expensive, and should be avoided. But, hey, that’s just me.
- Data-Center Hosting – This is another risky and expensive venture if you ask me. Your server hardware is stored in a climate-controlled, highly guarded facility off-site. You or a member of your team must maintain the system, handle software and hardware updates including adding firewalls and boosting performance. Lots of headache, but to each his own.
Choices for Hosting Providers
Okay. So, there are A LOT of hosting solutions out there. A LOT! Not only do you have hosting companies, but you also have many resellers of hosting solutions. Your web developer, for instance (if you aren’t building a site yourself), might sell you a hosting package for some kind of retainer fee (which I don’t really recommend).
Here are some of the hosting providers I’ve used in the past in my career.
- Bluehost – This has been my go-to hosting provider since 2007. They are among the three most recommended companies for WordPress hosting by WordPress.org.
- SiteGround – Another of the three most-recommended hosts for WordPress. I’m really digging their easy-to-use infrastructure, and the performance of the websites my clients have hosted there has been really great.
- Dreamhost – This is the third of the recommended hosts for WordPress. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of knowledge about this host, but it looks pretty competitive.
- HostGator – This is a budget host company. It used to be among my favorites, but not really anymore.
- GoDaddy – LOTS of people use GoDaddy as a domain registrar. While they are there, why not buy some hosting. Well, everything costs a little here and a little there, and the performance on their shared plans leave something to be desired. I strongly caution against using their Managed WordPress packages.
- InMotion Hosting – This is a hit-or-miss system. They don’t include some out-of-the-box things such as backups, site security, spam protection, etc. I’ve seen some companies do okay on this, but I’ve also had to rescue a site from a massive attack.
- AWS – Amazon Web Services is a Cloud hosting solution. It’s completely scalable and used by some of the largest organizations out there. But, you need to know your stuff to use this.
If you are a DIY beginner, do NOT invest in this.
- WP Engine – This niche service is very good for hosting WordPress websites. But, you pay for what you get. It’s fairly expensive and limited to a certain number of sites on an instance. I like them a lot, if you can afford them.
- HubSpot CMS – This is another behemoth of a package. It’s really a content-management system hosted by HubSpot. It’s entirely subscription based, and it’s pretty darned expensive. But, the UX, SEO, and mobile friendliness are second to none in my opinion.
But, there are certainly many more with which I’ve worked, and there are even more out there I haven’t yet touched.
For our purposes for the rest of my videos, we’ll be using SiteGround. I’ve been a Bluehost customer and affiliate for just about ten years or so. However, I’ve found that since I switched plans from their now defunct Cloud hosting (which was a dream) to a shared hosting solution, I experienced loads of problems.
Over the weekend of Oct. 17, I switched to SiteGround and migrated all of my websites there. My existing sites are better optimized than they have ever been before! I’m really looking forward to building this new site here.