Web hosting is the service of storing data that keeps websites up and running for users. Every single website that is online has a host server, and almost all use a web host to manage that storage. Not all web hosts provide the same level of quality, though. Uptime, and data speed and quantity of transfer are the best measures of a host’s success. You can often pay more to get data transferred in higher quantities, faster. Most web hosts offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space at a speed that is perfectly fine for small-to-moderate sized businesses or individuals. For companies with burdensome websites, they may need to seek out a more advanced web host.
What is shared web hosting?
A shared web hosting service is an agreement whereby each user gets a certain portion of total available resources. Multiple domains are hosted by the same server, which means that the server’s capabilities are split between multiple domains. This means that these websites will not experience as robust of performance as a website that has a dedicated server applying all of its resources solely to one website. If requests come in for multiple websites on the same server simultaneously, the server will only be able to transfer so much information at a single time. For low-bandwidth websites, the delays will often be unnoticeable, but for more burdensome websites, the delay can be significant.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the actual name of a website, and every single website has a domain name. To obtain one, you need to purchase it through a domain registrar. Domains can cost anywhere from a few dollars a year to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, based on the contract and popularity of the domain. Every domain name is actually pointing to an IP (Internet Protocol) address, which is a series of numbers. Because most people can’t remember 10 digits in perfect order, domain names serve as easily-remembered alias for visitors. Probably the best known domain name is google.com, and Google’s IP address is 220.127.116.11… which is easier for you to remember?
What is bandwidth and how much do you need?
Bandwidth is the amount of data that is accessed while viewing a website. Every time a user views a website, data is transferred, and the measurement of that transfer is bandwidth. In general, images, audio files and video files are higher in bandwidth than text. That means that if you have a more burdensome website in terms of bandwidth – if you have lots of video or streaming audio, for example – you have a higher bandwidth requirement than someone with a simple text-only website, or someone with only a few low-resolution images. Some web hosts offer unlimited bandwidth, and some place a cap on it.
What is disk space and how much do I need?
Disk space refers to the total space available for a user to store files on at any time. Files may be any type - HTML, images, videos – and at any single given time, the total file size may not exceed the disk space. How much disk space you need is dependent on what type of media and interactions you’ll be hosting through your site. Your email account’s storage is also counted in disk space, so if you have large files that will sit in the account, that will boost your disk space needs. Remember that although you might not need much space now, you want wiggle room to expand and grow in the future, without switching hosts.
How will I know how many people visited my site?
You can find out how many people visited your site through a number of different third party resources, such as Google Analytics or StatCounter. Some hosts provide easy ways to incorporate these tools into your website to start tracking, but some don’t give you any help in setup at all. It’s important that businesses install some sort of traffic counting tool on every page of a site and regularly decipher the data to make improvements to marketing and sales plans. For personal websites, traffic counters are merely tools of curiosity, but the numbers certainly are fun to keep an eye on!
How do I obtain a dedicated email account? (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When you purchase an account with a web host, one of the services you receive is a certain number of dedicated email accounts for any domain hosted on that account. Some web hosts give you one email account, or 20 email accounts, or unlimited email accounts. Those email accounts are managed from the control panel of the web host and you can set up email accounts, change their passwords, and set up email forwarders, all from that control panel. You can also set up a dedicated email account to send from a web-based email service like gMail or an offline service like Outlook.
What is SSL security?
This is an abbreviation for Secure Sockets Layer. This is a common protocol used to communicate information securely online. This protocol provides a safe path that runs between two Internet-connected machines or two machines on the same internal network. It is an extremely handy tool used by web browsers who need to connect securely to a web server, given the wild insecurity inherent in the Internet. SSL usually operates and sets up a secure session with little or no interaction from the person actually visiting the web site. You may notice the browser displaying a padlock or the address showing a padlock and a green bar – those are the hallmarks of SSL doing its magic.
Is my website protected from hackers?
Unfortunately, the short answer is that without adding in some level of protection, your site is probably not protected from hackers. Some web hosts give you that added protection, and some don’t. For example, some web hosts provide SiteLock Security, which works hard to block hackers and spammers. If you are using WordPress, your site is inherently more secure than many, but it is still extremely important to install plugins focused on boosting security.
How do I back up my site?
You can – and should! – back up your website regularly. From the control panel, there should be a Backup function, and with one click, you can save all of your files, if they are under 500 MB. If they total more than that, you will need to save your databases in partitions. To back up your website, is also as simple as through FTP simply dragging your PUBLIC.html folder over to your computer and copying the files in that way. You will not back up your email accounts like that, though. If you have doubts about your web host’s security, you can set up an email forwarder and have everything duplicated in an online email service like gMail or an offline one like Outlook.