If you’re a start-up working on your first business website and are unsure what hosting is and how it works, read on. We’re going to answer common questions and give you the basics for hosting your first website.
What is Web Hosting?
Your website is a series of files, just like a word processing document. Like that word processing document, your website needs to be stored on a computer. Because your website is intended to be seen by others and requires a connection to the Internet it is stored on a networked computer known as a web server.
A web host is the company that operates the computer or server on which your website resides. Host providers often refer to the product they offer as “web space” because in essence what they provide is “space” on an Internet-connected computer to host your website.
Why You Need Web Hosting
While it’s possible to host a site on your home computer, your home system is most likely not powerful enough to serve multiple users simultaneously. This is the reason website hosting companies exist.
Website hosting companies operate powerful computers called web servers designed to store and deliver your pages. Web servers are connected to the Internet by powerful connections that can handle large amounts of traffic and allow many users to access your site simultaneously. If you want to operate a web site, you need a website hosting provider.
Do They Offer Other Services?
Yes. In order to compete, many website hosting companies offer additional “value added” services like domain registration and email hosting. Some also offer free online website design software and technical support either by phone or online but beware, free offers such as these often have minimal value.
Are There Different Kinds of Hosting?
Yes. Website needs can vary greatly. If your hosting a small website, you’re going to need much less storage space and bandwidth compared to a big corporation running an online retail store. Most host providers will offer a variety of packages designed to fit your needs. At its most basic, you will need to know if the service is cloud-based and scalable or not.
How Much Space Will I Get?
Again, this can vary depending upon your needs and budget. Most companies start at 100 megabytes. For most users 100MB is more than adequate. Some companies offer packages with much more space at very reasonable prices so as your site grows, you’ll continue to have more than enough storage space and bandwidth. It’s important to check your terms of service to see exactly how much space you get for the price your paying.
Bandwidth? What is Bandwidth?
Bandwidth becomes important if your site really takes off and you generate lots of website visits. Basically, it’s the amount of data your site can transmit to users. For example, if your average web page is 10 kilobits (about 1000 words) every visitor that lands on your page uses 10 KB of bandwidth. If 100 people visit your page in a month, you’ve used 1000 KB of bandwidth. Most providers offer enough bandwidth to handle 52,000 visitors or so per month. This is more than enough for the average website. If your site takes off, it’s easy to add additional bandwidth (at a cost) to your hosting package.
Launching your first website is an exciting endeavor! It’s not difficult to find a website hosting company to get your vision online. The best place to start is by searching for website hosting on one of the search engines. You’ll get hundreds of hits and can begin your research! Good luck, and welcome to the Internet!