Web Hosting Mega Guide | The Ultimate Guide to Web Hosting

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Web Hosting Mega Guide | The Ultimate Guide to Web Hosting

Looking to host your website on the internet? You’ll have to set up web hosting

Well, that’s easier said than done, especially if you’re not super tech savvy.

There are a lot of things you’ll have to figure out on your own, including:

What kind of web hosting is best for your website?

Are free hosting providers any good?

Which hosting provider should you ultimately choose?

Sounds complicated, right? Well, worry not – in this article, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about web hosting, including:

Let’s get started!

What is Web Hosting?

Web hosting is the process of publishing your website on the internet and making it accessible through a web browser from any location.

Let’s say that you built a website for your local shop and now you want to make it live on the internet. To do that, you need to host your website on a computer called a web server.

When your website is uploaded on a server that’s connected to the internet, anyone with an internet connection and a web browser can access it.

How Does Web Hosting Work?

Websites are made up of lots of different files. Hosting a website works by uploading all your website’s individual files onto a web server.

Once your website is uploaded or, in technical terms, hosted on a web server, it can be found on the internet. Then, using your web address, also known as a domain name, anyone can find the server where your website is hosted and connect to it.

For example, our web address is www.redswitches.com and you can find our website by typing in our address in your web browser. When you do that, you connect to the web server where our website files are stored. Then, you can interact with our website and access all of it’s pages.

What Are the Different Types of Web Hosting?

There are different ways to host your website on the internet. Let’s learn about the 4 most popular types of web hosting:

#1. Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is the cheapest type of web hosting you can get. It’s a web server shared between tens or hundreds of users, which is what makes it so affordable.

However, this means that all its hardware is also shared between its users. This results in a slower hosting experience that isn’t ideal for medium or large websites. You can get shared hosting for just a few dollars a month.

Shared web hosting is good for small websites that don’t get a lot of visitors, such as:

  1. Professional portfolios
  2. Blogs
  3. Local shops
  4. Personal projects

#2. Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated servers (aka bare metal servers) are the best type of web servers you can get to host your website.

This type of web server isn’t shared with other users and its hardware is fully dedicated to your site. That’s why it’s the most powerful and secure type of web hosting.

In addition, you can fully customize a dedicated server, gain root access, tinker with security options, and more.

On the other hand, this type of hosting is significantly more expensive than shared web hosting. Renting a dedicated server can cost upwards of 100 USD per month.

Dedicated servers are optimal for these websites that get thousands or more monthly visitors (as there’s no upper limit with dedicated servers):

  1. Large e-commerce stores
  2. Video streaming sites
  3. Media and news outlets
  4. Education platforms

If you want to know more about how dedicated and shared servers compare, check out our guide on the differences between shared servers and dedicated servers.

#3. Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

Virtual private servers are like a mix between shared and dedicated servers.

You’re still renting a piece of a server (as opposed to the whole thing), but the piece of the server you’re renting is isolated from other hosting spaces.

VPS hosting is cheaper than dedicated servers and can provide a decent hosting experience for any medium to large website.

#4. Managed Dedicated Hosting

Managed hosting is a type of dedicated hosting that is fully managed by the hosting provider. If you don’t have an in-house IT team, this option is better than a regular dedicated server.

A managed server includes services like: website migration, data backup, anti-virus scanning, load balancing, and fixing any technical issues that you might encounter.

Managed web hosting is perfect for businesses that want to focus on growing their website instead of spending time on maintaining their technical equipment.

#5. Cloud Dedicated Hosting

Cloud dedicated servers have recently become more popular as a hosting solution that can scale automatically. They work by hosting your website in a virtualized environment that runs on a cluster of servers.

You get billed by the hour, so you’ll pay only for the resources you’re using at the moment. If you experience a spike in traffic for a short period of time, your available resources will scale accordingly in order to accommodate it. However, cloud dedicated servers aren’t as reliable as standard ones.

Cloud web servers are an excellent choice if you cannot predict the number of visitors you’ll get and the amount of traffic they will generate.

How to Get Started With Web Hosting

You’ve built your website and now it’s time to host it on the internet. How can you do that? If you follow these step-by-step instructions, you can start hosting your website in no time. Let’s get into it!

How to host a website:

Step #1. Identify the type of website

Step #2. Consider your future plans

Step #3. Determine your budget

Step #4. Choose a hosting type

Step #5. Choose a hosting provider

Step #6. Choose a hosting plan

Step #7. Pick a domain name

Step #8. Upload your website

Step #1. Identify The Type of Website

The first step is identifying the type of website you’ll be hosting. This will help you determine what type of hosting you’ll need, as well as how powerful it should be.

If you want to host a static website, such as a personal blog, a portfolio, or an informative site about your local shop, you won’t need powerful hosting. These websites are small-sized and don’t get many visitors. Moreover, since they display the same content for every user, static websites can easily run on a shared server.

However, if you’re about to host a large, dynamic website for your ecommerce store, or one for an online learning platform, you’ll definitely need a more powerful web server. Dynamic websites are larger in size because they use advanced code scripts, store and retrieve data from big databases, and display different content depending on the user interactions.

To handle all the traffic on your dynamic website generated by thousands of users at the same time, you will need a dedicated server with a fast CPU and lots of memory. Or, if your website is graphic-intensive, you should look into getting a high-end GPU with your dedicated server.

Step #2. Consider Your Future Plans

The second step is to consider your future plans for your website. If your website is your professional portfolio, the number of visitors coming to your site isn’t likely to grow exponentially, so your website will most likely be 4-10 pages tops.

But if you’re hosting a website for your online store and you plan to grow your business in the future, you should keep that in mind when choosing a web server. You don’t want to get shared hosting and then scale, only to realize that your website can’t handle the traffic anymore.

As such, it might be a better idea to get a more powerful server from the get-go.

Step #3. Determine Your Budget

Now, let’s talk about money. Buying a physical web server will set you back thousands of dollars. But luckily, you can avoid that by renting a web server from a hosting provider. You’ll only need to pay a small monthly fee in order to lease one of their web servers.

Taking into consideration the size of your website and the estimated amount of visitors you will get, you can come up with a budget for your web hosting costs. If you’ll be hosting a small static website, you’re looking at fees of around $5/month. However, if you have a large-scale dynamic website, you’ll definitely need to budget $100-250+ per month to host your website.

Step #4. Choose a Hosting Type

It’s important to get the right type of web hosting for your website in order for it to run efficiently and to avoid overpaying for unnecessary resources. To do this, you should consider the type of website you’ll be hosting, as well as a rough estimate of the number of visitors you anticipate.

You should get a shared server if you’re hosting a small static website that won’t get many visitors. In this case you don’t need high performance from your hosting solution.

Virtual private servers are a big step up from shared servers. If you need more performance from your hosting solution, but don’t want to spend more money for a dedicated server, you should consider VPS hosting.

If you cannot estimate the number of visitors you’ll get, cloud hosting is the best option for you. That’s because the resources of a cloud server can automatically scale depending on the number of visitors you get.

Finally, if you have a large dynamic website that will attract thousands of monthly visitors, you definitely need a dedicated server. Handling heavy traffic between your large website and your thousands of users requires continuous high performance, which you can only get from dedicated hosting. And if you don’t have the technical knowledge or IT team to manage your dedicated server, you should opt for getting a managed dedicated server instead.

Step #5. Choose a Hosting Provider

Now that you’ve decided on the type of hosting you need, you should choose a hosting provider. Here’s what you should be looking for in a web hosting provider:

  • Hardware & Software Options. Take a look at the hardware and software options that different hosting providers offer. Then, match them up with your website’s requirements. If you need a powerful CPU and unmetered bandwidth on a Linux platform, look for a hosting provider that offers all of the options.
  • Technical Support. A good hosting provider will offer expert technical support for their customers. When deciding on a hosting provider, consider hosting with one that has support available 24/7/365. If you ever run into a technical issue in the middle of the weekend, or over the holidays, they will be there to solve it for you.
  • Hosting Location. Many hosting providers have web servers in data centers all over the world. Depending on what type of website or service you’ll be hosting, you might want to think about the hosting location. If you are hosting an e-commerce store that delivers goods in the US, you’ll also want to host on a web server in the US. That’s because customers will be able to establish a connection faster with a server that’s physically closer to them.
  • Hosting Price. Web hosting prices vary depending on the hosting type, but they can vary depending on the hosting providers. Do your research to find out which hosting provider can get you the most value for your money.
Pro Tip

Before you even start, you should narrow down your list of hosting providers to those that offer the type of web hosting you want. For example, not every hosting provider has VPS or dedicated servers.

Step #6. Choose a Hosting Plan

Found your ideal hosting provider? Awesome! Now, it’s time to determine what hosting plan suits your needs.

You should pick out a hosting plan that best suits your requirements. If you can’t decide between a few plans, go for a hosting provider that doesn’t lock you in a year-long contract. Then, you can switch your plan if you aren’t happy with it.

Hosting providers have various numbers of hosting plans. Some might offer 3-4 streamlined plans, which can make your decision easier. But at the same time, that means you have less flexibility when it comes to customizing your server.

Other hosting providers might have numerous hosting plans with small variations, which is useful if you want to fine-tune your hosting plan. On top of that, they will have different upgrade options and you can even contact them to request a custom hosting plan.

Step #7. Pick a Domain Name

Some hosting providers will bundle a domain name with their hosting plans, but not all.

If the hosting provider you picked doesn’t offer this, you can buy a domain from Google Domains.

Or, if you already have a domain name from a website you’ve published in the past, you can simply carry it over to the new hosting provider.

Step #8. Upload Your Website

Finally, it’s time to upload your website on the host server and get it running!

Your hosting provider should assist you with this step, so all that’s left for you to do is promote your website and start driving traffic.

5 Best Web Hosting Providers

#1. RedSwitches

RedSwitches Pros RedSwitches Cons
  • Cheap monthly plans
  • Generous amount of bandwidth included
  • Top-quality branded hardware
  • Global server coverage
  • No shared hosting offer, so not a good fit for smaller websites

4.9

Performance
Pricing
Bandwidth
Storage
Global Coverage

#2. GoDaddy

GoDaddy Pros GoDaddy Cons
  • Lots of RAM included
  • Choice of SSD storage for a small fee
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Choice among only 4 plans
  • Server locations only in the US

4.8

Performance
Pricing
Bandwidth
Storage
Global Coverage

#3. A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting Pros A2 Hosting Cons
  • Many plans to choose from
  • Worldwide server locations
  • Expensive plans
  • Few storage options
  • Low bandwidth with base plan

4.7

Performance
Pricing
Bandwidth
Storage
Global Coverage

#4. InMotion Hosting

InMotion Pros InMotion Cons
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Expensive plans
  • Base plan has slower RAM
  • Only 2 server locations in the US

4.6

Performance
Pricing
Bandwidth
Storage
Global Coverage

#5. HostGator

HostGator Pros HostGator Cons
  • Unmetered bandwidth
  • Very few plans to choose from
  • Low storage space
  • Only 2 server locations in the US

4.6

Performance
Pricing
Bandwidth
Storage
Global Coverage

Free vs Paid Web Hosting

You might have heard about free hosting and you’re probably wondering if that’s a viable option.

The short answer is that yes, it’s possible to host a website for free.

However, it’s far from an optimal hosting solution.

First of all, your hosting resources will be limited to the bare minimum and your website will run extremely slow. Second, your free hosting provider will slap their name all over your website, from the URL address to the footer of all your web pages.

Free hosting is useful if you want to host a website as a class project, or for a portfolio as part of your resume. However, if you want to host a real website that will attract visitors, you should get paid hosting.

How to Host a Website from Home

Hosting a website locally from your computer is possible. But in reality it’s not a great idea. Here’s why:

  • You’ll need constant power supply to keep your computer on 24/7.
  • Your standard computer can’t operate under a heavy traffic load, so you’ll need server grade hardware.
  • A stable internet connection that can handle a lot of traffic will set you back lots of money.
  • You must have technical knowledge to set up a server and manage it.
  • Special software is required to enable web hosting.

That said, if you still want to host a website on your own computer, here’s what you need to do:

Step #1: Configure your hardware. To get started with self-hosting, you need to configure the hardware setup for it. To ensure you’ll have a constant power supply, you should get an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). Then, you should upgrade your internet connection. It’s a good idea to get a 10Gbps internet connection to handle the immense traffic that comes along with hosting a website. Finally, you’ll need enterprise grade hardware, such as a server CPU, a high amount of RAM, and a RAID storage system for data redundancy.

Step #2: Install web hosting software. To host a website locally, you’ll need to install what’s called a WAMP or LAMP software. This is a package of all the essential programs required to host a website, including Windows/Linux OS, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.

Step #3: Upload your website. Now that your local web server is ready, you can go ahead and upload your website on it. You’ll have to do this yourself, because there’s no hosting provider that can help you with the process.

Step #4: Manage your server. As the server owner, you’ll be fully responsible for managing it. This includes not only setup and configuration, but also dealing with small technical issues very frequently. Issues can range from your internet connection crashing, to your CPU overheating, and your WAMP software displaying error warnings.

Web Hosting Terminology – 7+ Hosting Terms You Should Know

#1. Hosting Control Panel

The hosting control panel is the space where all of the controls for your server can be found. It’s a graphical web interface which you can access from your web browser.

The control panel of your web server lets you upload your website files, create backups, manage user accounts, and more. And if you have root access to your server, which is common with dedicated servers, you can gain administrative-level control in the control panel.

#2. Content Management System (CMS)

A content management system (CMS) allows you to manage the content that goes on your website’s blog. If you’re using your web server for WordPress hosting, you’ve probably heard of this term.

The CMS allows you to write new blog posts, publish them, and edit them. Content management systems usually have easy to use graphical interfaces and beginners can learn how to use them in no time.

#3. File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

The file transfer protocol (FTP) facilitates data communication between users and a server. You will use the FTP when you want to upload files to your server. And when someone visits your website, the FTP will establish a connection with them to transfer necessary files.

#4. Website Migration

If you already have a website hosted on a web server and you want to upgrade to a better server, or switch to a different hosting provider, you need to migrate your website. Website migration is done by transferring all your website files to the new server. Typically, your hosting provider can assist you with the process of migrating your website.

#5. Domain Name Server (DNS)

The domain name server (DNS for short) connects the domain names of websites with the IP addresses of their web servers.

When you input a domain name, or a URL address in your web browser, the DNS takes the domain name and looks up which IP address it’s connected to. Using the IP address, your website can find the web server where that website is hosted and will download the necessary files it needs to display the website for you.

#6. DDoS Protection

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are targeted attacks on websites with the intention of crashing them. They are done by sending heavy traffic to the website in order to bring it down. In other words, they cause the website to “deny service” to incoming visitors.

You can protect yourself from DDoS attacks by getting a DDoS protected server.

#7. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate

An SSL certificate is a file that establishes a secure connection between your website and the web browsers of visitors. You can install an SSL certificate on your web server by uploading it as part of your website files.

Having an SSL certificate will not only make your website trustworthy in the eyes of visitors, but will also enable you to do more on your website. This includes processing login information, allowing customers to make card transactions, and encrypt your information databases.

#8. Data Backup

Data backup is the process of creating a copy of your files that you can later use to restore your information in the case of data loss. A backup copy of your data can be partial or full, containing only your important data, or all of it. The best way to avoid data loss is by following the 3-2-1 data backup rule.

Web servers allow you to backup your website data in order to avoid data loss, which is becoming very common. You can even use a separate dedicated server to backup your data.

Web Hosting FAQ

#1. What are the steps in website hosting?

To host a website, you should follow these steps:

  1. Identify the type of website
  2. Consider your future plans
  3. Determine your budget
  4. Choose a hosting type
  5. Choose a hosting provider
  6. Choose a hosting plan
  7. Pick a domain name
  8. Upload your website

#2. How much does it cost to host a website?

You can rent a web server to host your website for prices as low as $4-5 USD/ month. If you need a more powerful hosting solution, you can get a dedicated server for prices starting at $100/month.

Additionally, you might need to buy a domain name, which usually costs between $10-20/year.

#3. Can I use WordPress on my web server?

Yes, WordPress is compatible with all web servers that you can get from hosting providers. You can install and use WordPress hosting on any web server type.

#4. What is required to host a website?

If you want to self-host a website, you’ll need a powerful server, an uninterruptible power supply, a fast and reliable internet connection, WAMP/LAMP software, and a domain name.

Meanwhile, getting started with website hosting using a hosting provider is way simpler. You’re only going to need to buy a web hosting plan and a domain name, and you’ll be ready to host your website.

#5. Where can I get web hosting?

You can get web hosting from hosting providers such as RedSwitches. We offer affordable dedicated server hosting, as well as virtual private servers, to give you the best hosting experience.

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