What Is Web Hosting?
Despite the amount of time people spend on the Internet — an average of 6 hours and 42 minutes per day, according to some reports — the behind-the-scenes actions that keep websites running remain mysterious to many.
However, not understanding the inner workings of the Internet doesn’t mean you can’t create the website of your dreams, especially if you are a small business owner. That’s why we created this guide answering one of the fundamental questions of website building — what is web hosting?
8 Essential Web Hosting Features
There are a few key features to consider when shopping for web hosting services:
1. Domain name registration
Every website needs its own unique domain name. While you can register your domain name separately from your hosting plan, many hosting service providers offer domain name registration (for one or multiple sites) as part of their hosting packages. Because there are additional fees associated with registering a domain name, having it included in your hosting package can save you money.
How fast your website loads is essential to its success. Speed affects your customers’ experience on your website, and Google also factors it into their overall score of a site’s quality, with slow speeds negatively impacting SEO. When selecting a hosting service provider, look for companies that use Solid-State Drives (SSD) and a Content Delivery Network (CDN), and have servers in multiple locations, as these factors contribute to better speeds.
Despite their size, servers only have so much capacity for storing files. You want to choose a type of hosting that can accommodate the size of your site. For example, shared hosting is typically sufficient for text-heavy sites with a few pages, while larger sites with lots of high-resolution images and streaming media may require the amount of storage only a VPS or dedicated server can provide.
Like storage, bandwidth needs vary site-by-site. A website with thousands of daily visitors requires more bandwidth than a website with a few hundred visitors. While many shared web hosting services advertise “unlimited” bandwidth, this is usually based on the fact that most websites never come close to hitting bandwidth limits, especially when they are new. However, it helps to read the fine print; some hosting service providers penalize customers who exceed their allotted amount of bandwidth.
One way to address issues of storage and bandwidth limitations is scalability. Some types of hosting, like cloud hosting, allow sites to increase resources on the fly. Many hosting service providers offer different types of hosting, so that a website that launches with shared hosting can upgrade to VPS or dedicated hosting when it outgrows its storage and bandwidth limitations.
As mentioned previously, a good web hosting service provider ensures that its servers are running as close to 100 percent of the time as possible. You can verify a company’s claims about their uptime through a third-party site.
7. Email Accounts
Dedicated email accounts at your domain name are key to establishing professionalism and authority for your business. Different hosting packages offer varying numbers of email accounts per website, so determine what your needs are, or what you anticipate they will be, and look for a package that meets those needs.
Having reliable, accessible technical support from your web hosting service provider is also essential to effectively running a website. If you or your customers are having trouble with your website, you will want to be able to get those issues resolved as quickly as possible. Look for companies that offer 24/7 support, whether it’s by phone, chat, or email.
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