According to my research, there are more than 1.9 billion websites on the Internet and that number is continuously increasing.
So if you are an individual or an organization looking to establish your presence on the Internet, web hosting is a crucial part that you should give time to understand. Thanks to the ever-growing technology, creating a website is a simple task now, however, you should understand the basics and what goes into establishing a website.
In this post, I will walk you through what is hosting and how it works, followed by its types, the steps for hosting your website, and the criteria that should be followed while selecting the best hosting platform.
What Is Hosting/Web Hosting?
Let us start with the basics. I will first share a simple analogy that explains hosting and then we will see a formal definition – this is for you, IT guys!
(1) Simple Explanation For Non-Technical Folks
I will give you an analogy that will explain hosting in an easy-to-understand language. Suppose, I buy land and build my house, and suppose the address of my residence is, “House No. 1, Zero Street, Andheri West, Mumbai – 400053”
That’s it! The story ends!
So let’s understand the 3 fundamental terms from the above analogy:
- My house: This is my website.
- My address: This is my domain name. (https://shubhamjeetkumar.com/)
- The land: This is the web host. The host will provide me with a platform to host my house (my website) on the Internet.
(2) Formal Definition For Techies!
- Now, let’s see a formal definition of web hosting. Web hosting is server space to store your website’s files. The file can contain code, images, videos, text, links, etc. and everything is stored somewhere on the server.
- When people visit your website and open a blog post, they are requesting content from the server. When you search for something on Google, you type your query in the search box and press the search icon. When you click search, your request is sent to the server, which locates the files related to your keyword, and returns the response in the form of links.
- Therefore, without hosting, there is no way that people can access your web content. This makes web hosting one of the most important parts for setting up and establishing your website (your online presence).
- Hosting your website will help you to store your content somewhere on the Internet, reducing the cost of storing your files locally. Hosting platforms also provide security, backup of your website’s files, support, and so on.
- Hosting platforms cost from a few rupees to a few hundreds of rupees on a monthly or a yearly basis.
In the below section, I have covered my top 4 choices for web hosting. You can explore them and choose the one that suits your goals.
What Are Servers?
- I will explain servers with the help of a simple example:
- Whenever you want to find some information, you open the browser on your device, type the query, and click the search icon.
- When you click search, your request is sent to the server in the form of an HTTP request.
- That request reaches the server and it accepts the request.
- Then the server locates the information you were looking for and sends back the files that contain the keyword(s) you typed in the search bar as an HTTP request. (However, if the server does not find the information you requested, it returns a 404 response.)
Types of Hosting
I hope you have understood what hosting is and how it will help you store the files of your website. Now, let’s see the types of hosting options available.
(1) Shared Hosting
- Shared hosting can be understood with the analogy of a bus. On a bus, you will share the space with 20 passengers, 30 passengers, or 50 passengers.
- Shared hosting works pretty much the same. Suppose the bus is a server and passengers are websites.
- Now, let’s go over the example again. In shared hosting, your website will share the same server space with multiple other websites.
- Your website is allocated space on the same server as many other websites. The number of websites can be a handful to hundreds. Technically speaking, all the websites stored on the server will share common resources such as RAM and CPU.
- Since the space is shared, shared hosting is an economical option and you can go for shared hosting when you are on a low budget. However, with low prices come a few overheads. Since the server space is divided, the chances of disruptions are higher. Additionally, shared hosting will provide you with basic services and it is not flexible for updates to your websites.
(2) Virtual Private Servers
- Although Virtual Private Server or VPS hosting is similar to shared hosting, your website files are stored in a dedicated space and you get dedicated resources.
- In VPS hosting, the server space is divided into virtual spaces, and each virtual space will have dedicated resources. Hence, we can say that, in VPS hosting, there is a one-to-many relationship between the server and virtual spaces.
- Since the server is divided into virtual spaces and each space gets dedicated resources, the cost of the VPS hosting is usually higher, but it reduces the risk of disruption and sharing resources with other websites.
(3) Dedicated Hosting
- In dedicated hosting, your website will be hosted on a dedicated server which improves its security and performance.
- The user has full admin rights to access the server, which implies that the user himself/herself is responsible for the security and maintenance of the dedicated server.
(4) Managed Hosting
- In managed hosting, you will have access to a dedicated server, but you do not have full admin rights to access the server. Hence, the security and management responsibilities of the server will lie in the hands of your provider.
- The users are not granted full amind rights which results in a better quality of service and risks such as modification or configuration problems are avoided.
- It is to be noted that users are given a dedicated server space for a monthly rent.
(5) Cloud Hosting
- The most latest option for hosting your website is cloud hosting.
- Cloud hosting uses resource sharing to reduce the costs and risks of disruptions. It is more affordable in comparison with other options.
- Although I have shared only the 5 types of hosting, there are other types available. You can explore them here.
How To Choose The Best Hosting Service?
Now that you understand what hosting is, how it works, and the types of hosting, I will share the factors that should influence your hosting decision.
- After you have set up your website, it is crucial to ensure that when users visit your website, it should be active. As a business, there is nothing more disappointing and frustrating than your website not opening and visitors seeing the dreaded 404 pages.
- The downside is that visitors would not return to your website and Google starts to give less value to your platform in the organic search results. So, when you purchase hosting, make sure that the service provides the best quality of availability.
- Whenever you decide to buy hosting, choose a provider that guarantees an uptime closer to 100%. So if you find 10 hosting platforms, choose from those that give an uptime above 99%.
- Remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal? After that incident, many companies have put in the effort to strengthen their websites. So, choose a hosting provider that offers security to your visitors, website files, content, etc.
- Choosing a hosting provider that could secure your website will keep your website active and operational even in case of unforeseen problems.
- Having a backup (or multiple backups) or your website is crucial in case something happens. For example, if the server crashes, there should be a backup of all your files ensuring uptime and availability.
- Hence, backup is extremely crucial and when you choose a hosting provider, please ensure that they provide you with backup functionality.
- With backup service, your data can be recovered and migrated to another server and this plays several business-related roles.
- Every file of your website – front-end and back-end – must be backed up. So, again, choose a hosting service that provides backup functionality.
(4) Mobile Accessibility
- According to Perficient Inc., 68.1% of website visitors came from mobile devices in 2020. Whereas, the desktop traffic was 28.9% and 3.1% of visitors came from tablets. Therefore, creating mobile-friendly websites is crucial to running a successful online business.
- According to my experience, if your website does not load on mobile phones in under 3 seconds, visitors bounce off. So, when you choose a hosting provider, make sure they provide mobile accessibility and your websites load faster on mobile devices.
(5) Years in the industry
- Many new hosting providers have entered the scene, but, according to my experience, you should go for the service that has been in the industry for some time.
- Although newer providers provide a decent service, experienced companies have built trust among their customers and you should choose the hosting provider after going through user feedback and ratings.
- In addition to security, backup, uptime, and other factors, your web hosting must be efficient in helping you. This makes customer support a key aspect of any hosting service.
- Why is customer support important? Suppose your website has crashed. Will you:
- Wait for several hours?
- Want to quickly resolve the problem?
- If you are like me, you will vote for the 2nd option, isn’t it?
- So when you look for a hosting provider, check if they have live customer support and 24×7 customer support. You should also check the channels that they offer to assist you. Do they call you, do they provide chat support, or do they resolve the problem themselves? Check how the provider will contact and help you.
(7) Extra Benefits: Add-ons, Supplementary Products, Packages, etc.
- Suppose there are 2 companies – company A and company B. Company A provides you hosting only and company B provides hosting and other related products.
- Which company will you choose? Company B, isn’t it?
- Look, hosting is a competitive market and many companies provide hosting. To stand out, the companies must provide extra services and/or products to beat their competition.
So, while choosing a web hosting service, check if they provide other related services, alright?
The Best Hosting Services
I will now share the top hosting providers and classify them based on the aforementioned points to help you effortlessly choose the provider that suits your business needs.
BlueHost is owned by the Endurance International Group. It is one of the 20 largest web hosting services, hosting over 2 million domains.
It is such a powerful hosting service that it was among the hosting services that were studied in the analysis of web hosting services in collaborative online learning programs.
Why Should You Choose BlueHost?
- Uptime: 99.99%
- Services: Shared, Dedicated, VPS, WordPress, E-commerce
- Pricing: From ₹179 per month
- Security: BlueHost provides all-in-one solutions that make website protection and reliability easy with free SSL, malware detection, automated security updates, and 24×7 expert support.
- Backup: BlueHost provides the functionality of data backups, so you can focus on running your business. Additionally, they will help you by providing automatic WordPress & plugin updates.
- Speed: BlueHost promises a blazing fast website with CDN, caching, staging environment, and other marketing tools.
- Support: Yes. BlueHost provides 24×7 support. You can reach out to them via phone calls (1800-419-4426 or +91-227-122-1644) and live chat.
- Extra Benefits: Secure payment gateways, fully customizable online stores, customer chat windows, and anything else you need to transform your website into the ultimate machine.
HostGator was founded by Brent Oxley in October 2002 when was a student at Florida Atlantic University. In June 2006, the company opened its first international office in Canada.
HostGator provides shared, reseller, virtual private server, and dedicated web hosting services.
Why Should You Choose HostGator
- Uptime: 99.9%
- Services: Shared, VPS, Dedicated
- Pricing: From ₹139 per month
- Security: HostGator provides solutions that make website protection and reliability easy with free SSL, malware detection, security updates, 24×7 expert support, and Cloudflare’s protection.
- Backup: HostGator provides daily and weekly backups depending on the plan you choose.
- Speed: In 2019, HostGator decided to try LiteSpeed Web Server (LSWS) as their main web server instead of Apache. LiteSpeed engineers developed their own LiteSpeed Cache plugin for WordPress that helped websites to load about 6x faster than before.
- Support: Yes. BlueHost provides 24×7 support 365 days a year. You can also reach out to them on other channels.
- Extra Benefits: HostGator provides themes and plugins for your WordPress website.
DreamHost is a web hosting provider and domain name registrar. It was founded by Josh Jones, Michael Rodriguez, and Sale Weil in 1997. It is now owned by New Dream Network.
DreamHost began hosting customers’ sites in 1997. As of February 2016, Dreamhost employs about 200 people and has close to 4,00,000 customers.
DreamHost’s shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting network consists of Apache, ‘nginx’, and ‘lighttpd’ web servers running on the Ubuntu operating system.
DreamHost launched cloud storage and computing services for entrepreneurs and developers in 2012.
Why Should You Choose DreamHost?
- Uptime: 100%
- Services: Shared, VPS, Dedicated, Managed WordPress, Cloud
- Shared Hosting: $1.99 per month
- VPS Hosting: $10.00 per month
- Managed WordPress Hosting: $12.00 per month
- Dedicated Server Hosting: $149.00 per month
- Cloud Hosting: $4.50 per month
- Security: DreamHost provides the following security features:
- Malware Protection: DreamHost built a tool to discover and fix malware found on customer websites.
- Privacy: Domain privacy is free by default.
- Firewall: The industry-standard web application firewall for apache. We have hundreds of custom rules and submit patches upstream to the project.
- Data Encryption: Free and open SSL/TLS certificates by a not-for-profit certificate authority.
- Backup: DreamHost provides on-demand backup and 1-click restore. Please note that depending on your plan, you may or may not get the backup functionality.
- Speed: Thanks to DreamHost, your website will load 200% faster. With SSDs, caching, and database queries, your visitors get to enjoy your website without being bogged down by lagging load times.
- Support: DreamHost provides 24×7 live chat support 365 days a year. You can also request a call from the support team between 3:00 AM and 9:30 PM Pacific Time (4:30 PM to 11 AM IST).
- Extra Benefits: DreamHost provides database software so you get the best configurations for your website. Additionally, your website will be automatically updated and with 1-click WordPress installs, your migration will be effortless.
(4) WPX Hosting
WPX Hosting was founded by Terry Kyle in 1998. It is highly recommended if you are looking for a hosting service that is fast, secure, and scalable.
Why Should You Choose WPX Hosting?
- Uptime: 99.95%
- Services: WordPress Hosting
- Business Plan: $24.99 per month
- Professional Plan: $49.99 per month
- Elite Plan: $99 per month
- Security: WPX Hosting provides malware removal so your website remains clean and safe. It also provides SSL certificates, DDoS protection, and other features to shield your website from attackers.
- Backup: WPX Hosting provides a backup functionality of every 28 days.
- Speed: WPX Hosting uses LiteSpeed Server, LiteSpeed Cache, and OpCache to ensure your website loads in a jiffy. WPX Hosting recently launched their Content Delivery Network, called WPX Cloud. You will get it for absolutely free of charge and you can enable it for your sites with a flick of a switch. Every plan comes with access to WPX Cloud for free.
- Support: What sets WPX Hosting apart from its counterparts is its 30-second average support response time on live chat. All of your problems will be solved by the agent without the need of escalations to other teams. Their live chat is active 24×7.
- Extra Benefits: WPX Hosting provides unlimited site migrations, and 1-click WordPress installs. You can install WordPress plugins without restrictions. It supports multiple installs per plan. Offers free site migration within 24 hours.
- In this post, I introduced hosting in simple words – by giving an analogy of the house – and a formal language for the techy guys. Then I covered what servers are and how they work.
- Additionally, we saw the types of hosting that you can choose from and then I shared my top 4 hosting platforms and differentiated them in terms of uptime, services, pricing, security, backup, speed, support, and extra benefits.
- Here are the links to each platform, if you want to get started right away:
- BlueHost: bluehost.sjv.io/rnzygD
- DreamHost: http://click.dreamhost.com/aff_c?offer_id=8&aff_id=1929
- HostGator: https://hostgator-india.sjv.io/do9vR2
- WPX Hosting: https://wpx.net/?affid=6294