Hosting is where your website lives. Think of it as a housing estate. Just as houses live on estates, your website lives on hosting. You cannot have a website without hosting. Hosting (which may also be referred to as web hosting or website hosting) is provided by a hosting company who is responsible for managing and taking care of the files that make up your website. Critically, they provide a mechanism for the files to be visible on the internet. They also provide mechanisms for you to update, delete and backup your website. Just to make sure we don't commit all the common website mistakes.
You pay a hosting company for an amount of disk space where your website will live and be served up online. You lease both hard disk space and bandwidth from the hosting company, bought via a hosting package that is paid for monthly or yearly.
Bandwidth is the amount of data that you're allowed to transfer to and from your website in a month.
You want to host that meets your needs, and there are certain things you must ensure you get with your hosting. This applies whether you buy your own hosting, or whether it's provided for you in a package, perhaps by your webmaster.
The key questions about hosting are:
- "Does it give you tools that make the installation of your site quick and easy?" and
- "Does it make support and update of your site easy?"
Getting the Right Hosting
When you buy hosting, there are several things you want to look for. These are functions that your hosting company must provide.
- Must support WordPress
- Owning your username and passwords
- Multi-domain hosting
Must Support WordPress
WordPress is the most used and most trusted way of developing websites. According to Forbes magazine, there are over 60 million WordPress sites worldwide, and one out of every six websites is powered by WordPress.
The many add-on themes and plugins available make WordPress a rich development environment. These allow you a great choice in the look and feel and functionality of your WordPress implementation.
So you want your web hosting to support WordPress.
Owning Your Usernames and Passwords
People get into trouble with this time and time again. As your hosting determines whether your website is visible or not, you must have control of your hosting.
This means having the username and password to the control panel AND the username and password for FTP access.
Let's explain what those terms mean.
A control panel is a piece of software that allows you to create files, delete them and move them. It also allows you access to your email server configuration. If you don't have this username and password, and someone else does, you are not in control of your website.
Ftp stands for File Transfer Protocol and is a standard way to upload files to your hosting and to download them to your PC. It also allows deletion and renaming of files. Needless to say, you must be in possession of your FTP username and password, or you lose the ability to control your files.
The importance of this cannot be overstated. It's like designing your dream house and then rather than looking after the keys yourself, you give them to someone else. You wouldn't dream of doing this with your house, but incredibly, people do it with websites all the time.
Always insist on your hosting's control panel username and password and its FTP username and password.
A moment ago, we likened hosting to a housing estate. If the estate is your hosting, your house is your website. Most decent estates have more than one house, and that's what multi-domain hosting gives you - the ability to add additional websites as and when you need, without acquiring an entirely new estate every time.
If you have the more limited single-domain hosting you can only host one website on your hosting. This means you need to pay for more hosting every time you need a new website.
With multi-domain hosting, you can host as many websites as you like - within the limits of your allowances. And as multi-domain hosting is only a little more expensive than single-domain hosting, it makes economic sense to get multi-domain hosting from the start.