What is web hosting and how does it work?

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What is web hosting and how does it work?

What is web hosting and how does it work? When do you need a host? What do you need in a host? What is shared vs. managed hosting? Looking for the best WordPress internet hosting for your site? Start here and I’ll answer your questions.

What you need to know:

Hosting is ESSENTIAL to your website. You can’t have a website without it. And you have to pay for it. There is no such thing as free hosting. The good news is that it’s really the only essential paid-for service for your website! So learn all about it here and learn what’s best for your site.

What is Hosting?

What is web hosting and how does it work?

Let’s think about your website like a house. Your website is the house. The website files are your bricks. The domain is your address. WordPress (or Squarespace, Blogger, etc.) is your door. The design is the paint and pretty siding. Your host is your location.

Your host holds and stores all your website files, making the actual site possible in the first place! Every host has a server, server space, and security to make sure your files are safe and secure.

If you have a hosted framework like Squarespace, Wix, WordPress.com or Blogger, you are essentially renting space. And that framework is also your host. They own your files. You don’t need an additional host for these.

If you use WordPress.org, you own your blog or website files. And, just like someone who owns a house, you have to shop around and check out the real estate of who will be good enough to house your files. Make sense?

(Don’t know the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com? Check out the difference here.)

What should you look for in a host?

1. Look for Excellent Customer Service.

NEVER do without great customer service. I have worked on dozens of sites when the site goes down at 2 am on Saturday. The first thing I do is contact the host. If the host doesn’t have 24/7 support, that site will be down until Monday morning. This is not acceptable.

You want access to chat support, email and a phone number for technical support available 24/7. Many hosts only have access to email from 9-5. This will make you mad if you can’t call at midnight when your site is down. Look for chat, easy support ticket options, or phone access. Make this your #1 priority.

2. Look to grow with a host.

I assume you want your site to grow. Look at the options. Does the host max out at 50,000 pageviews/month? Does the host only have limited space or only shared servers? Transferring between hosts is very complicated and time consuming, so start off well! Don’t start small and prevent yourself from growing.

3. Look for a reasonable price, but high quality

I have worked with some website owners that chose to use a family friend that had an in-house hosting service. They compromised on quality, reliability, and longevity and regretted it. Sometimes small businesses that offer website hosting are worth it. Sometimes they aren’t!

I have worked with many clients that chose Bluehost because of it’s popularity among influencers and marketing. I’m not say Bluehost is not worth it. I’ve used it many times for beginners and it has a place as a web hosting service! But just because a host is well known and can claim a “2.99/month” price, doesn’t mean it’s the best. You will probably not be able to grow and scale as quickly with Bluehost.

I would recommend reading reviews and talking to real website owners that have real experience with a host. Here are some questions to ask as you determine the quality of a host:

  1. Can you contact this host at late hours and on weekends?
  2. How quickly does their support reply back?
  3. How often do they increase their prices?
  4. Have you ever requested help that they weren’t able to give you?
  5. Do you have to hire a developer on the side to fulfill some of your hosting needs?
  6. Do they have good uptime? (Uptime is how long a system has been running without an outage.)

Different Types of Web Hosting

1. Hosting included in a Website Builder

If you are looking for the easiest website builder solution, I bet you have considered Squarespace, WIX, (Google) Blogger or another builder that like. These are like all-in-one website rental agencies that let’s you rent your space, your domain name, your host, your design, and anything your website needs.

These are VERY appealing, but also are not always the best solution. They can become very pricey. They can be very limited (they only include certain services and functions that they own. They might not include HTML and CSS editors). And they also can keep you from growing. They act as a rental agency. So, if you ultimately want to own your content, don’t choose one of these website builders.

Also, there is no such thing as a free web hosting company. Yes, these builders would claim they offer hosting “for free”. But don’t be fooled. Using these services can often cost more than if you built your website on a independent website host.

To see if you need a website builder or WordPress, check out this article here.

2. Shared vs. Managed Hosting

Shared hosting plans vs. managed website hosting is the big difference when it comes to hosting. Web hosting services are either managed (dedicated hosting) or shared. Simply put, shared hosting is cheaper and slower and managed hosting is more expensive and faster.

Shared Hosting means that a hosting provider is letting you share a server with another site. You aren’t paying for the whole web server, just part of it. Consequently, you don’t know the other site that you are bunking with. Are they bigger and will take up space? Are they more demanding and requiring more of the service? The result is that you aren’t in control of how much you get. You will get less space, less service, less speed, & less help then the bigger site.

Shared hosting plans also usually comes with less attention. The company won’t devote their time to making your site secure and you happy. Your hosting plan will have minimal benefits and every little (normal) service will be paid only. The upside is that these hosting plans come really cheap – starting at about $5/month. But, your site (especially larger sites) will definitely suffer for it.

Managed Hosting is the complete opposite. You get the full dedicated server. The full space and the feel speed. You also get full attention – most managed hosting includes full support, 24/7 security, daily backups, and even free transfers. To me, though, the BEST PART is the lightning speed. Have you ever been to website that drags? Chances are that site is using cheap hosting. I think a good rule is that if a site has over 50,000 pageviews a month, they need managed hosting. Complete peace of mind.

Managed Hosting costs more – about $25/month. More pricey? Yes. Necessary for scalability and to grow your site? YES.

What does a Good Host offer?

When you are looking at different service providers for your website hosting, here are some features that you should look for. The best web hosting services include these hosting options:

  • 24/7/365 Customer Support with technical expertise
  • Correct number of websites that you need
  • Sufficient storage space
  • Email accounts and mailboxes
  • DDoS Protection
  • Daily website backups and website monitoring
  • Malware scanning
  • Free (or paid) SSL Certificates
  • WordPress hosting

If you are looking for a more advanced managed virtual private server situation, look for these features:

  • Free migration
  • Unlimited domains
  • Unlimited databases
  • Unlimited mailboxes
  • Unrestricted bandwidth
  • High-Frequency CPUs
  • DDOS Mitigation (or integration with Cloudflare security)
  • Access to a cPanel control panel
  • Advanced: Managed VPS Hosting with guaranteed RAM, dedicated CPU cores, and premium bandwidth
  • Other: PHP Hosting and MySQL Hosting

The best Web Hosting Companies I Recommend

What web hosting services do I recommend? Keep reading here on Motherboard Mentor to see my preferred services!

What is web hosting and how does it work? When do you need a host? What do you need in a host? What is shared vs. managed hosting?

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