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Website Hosting 101

By Snap Agency September 19, 2018

If you’re starting a new website, an important factor that is often overlooked is deciding how you plan on hosting your website. There are many available options when it comes to outsourcing the hosting of your site, each with their own pros and cons. Today, we’re going to talk about what web hosting is and how to find the best web hosting company for your site.

With experience in working with clients like the Mall of America and Copycats Media, we know how to create a website that is an extension of your brand and one that will work towards meeting your goals. Here at Snap, we take the time to work with you to make sure your website is an extension of your company’s value and mission statement.

What is Website Hosting?

The best way to think of website hosting is with an analogy. With a brick-and-mortar store, you have a physical location to house all your products, or if you’re a service, a place to interact with clients. When it comes to your online presence, you have content about your offering, an online shop, images, files, and coding. You need somewhere to put all this information. The place in which all these data is stored is called a server.

So, companies that provide the service of website hosting rent out space on their servers for you to store your website. Some of the most popular website hosting companies include Dreamhost, Bluehost, and 1&1 Hosting.

When it comes to website hosting, you need to consider the benefits the host company provides, the price, and, above all else, the security of their servers. If that means paying a little extra for their services, then so be it. It’ll be worth knowing your information and data is secure.

If you aren’t sure about who is hosting your current site, there are numerous online resources that can help you find out. Simply type in your domain name and HostAdvice or WhoIsHostingThis will tell you who hosts your site.

Another easy option is to check in with accounts payable and see who is being paid for hosting your site.

How to Find the Best Host for Your Website

When it comes figuring out what website host to choose, consider these criteria:

How much experience do you have with running your site?

If you have the firepower and experience to handle the IT maintenance that comes with your website, then you can settle for unmanaged hosting, which gives you full reign as if the server was your own.

However, if you and your company possess lackluster IT skills, then you may want to opt for a hosting option that allows for ‘managed’ hosting. Managed hosting minimizes the amount of hands-on IT work that you need to do to keep the server running. The hosting company will handle the hardware while all you need to worry about is your software. Hosting of this nature will be more expensive, but it will give your website more security then if you tried to handle all the technical aspects that come with a server on your own.

Understand the Different Types of Servers

Different hosts will offer different types of servers. The key is to figure out which type best fits your needs.

Shared servers are the most affordable type of hosting, where one server box can hold hundreds of different sites. Shared hosting can get tricky at times, due to the fact that your site’s performance is dependent on how much extra energy the other sites are putting on the host. According to an article on CNET, shared hosting also, “…limits your access to the server’s capabilities… restricting what programs you can run on the service and limiting the amount of database access your site can perform.”

A virtual private server is your next option. Similar to shared servers, hosting providers will run multiple VPSs on one box. However, the performance is better than a typical shared server option.

Next, we have a dedicated server, which is an actual physical box that is located in a service provider’s data center. While the cost will increase, you can rest assured that no one else’s website will affect how your own site runs.

Last, there is the cloud server option. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are two popular options. The same CNET article talk about the benefits of cloud servers is that you can, “scale seamlessly… if you need to be able to handle that big traffic surge, just pay our provider more money… nothing needs to be moved or rebuilt.”

Carefully Consider Your Options

The important thing to remember when deciding on a web hosting company is to understand what you’ll need out of that service provider. If your site is big and requires tons of bandwidth, consider the cloud server or dedicated server options. If your site is starting off small with just a few pages, save money with shared servers. Of course, you must make sure that the company you are working with has a good track record when it comes to security. Check out reviews and reach out to other businesses to see how their sites have fared.

Reach out today if you have any questions with your website hosting decision, or if you need to get started on crafting a new site altogether. When it comes to web development and design, we follow a thorough discovery, architecture, design, development, and launch approach that allows for a detailed and well functioning final product.