What Does a Web Host Do?
If you want to know how to host a website and are wondering which is the best website hosting company to use, it will help if you understand exactly what a web hosting company does. They provide a service where they will store your website on their computer and make it accessible to anyone who wishes to view it when they type in the domain name that you have registered for your site (Ideally, your site should be "live" 24/7 for 365 days per year!) When you pay for web hosting, you are literally renting space on their computer.
The web host's computer is referred to as a "server" or "web server". This is because its function is to serve web pages to the internet using web server software. Because they are storing thousands of websites, the hosting company has to have excellent security software on their servers to protect their client's sites from hackers and viruses.
What Do They Offer?
There are numerous web hosting providers online that offer a variety of hosting plans at prices to suit most budgets. It can seem very daunting when trying to find the best website hosting to suit your requirements if you are a newcomer, and you simply want to create your own website and get it online. When choosing a web hosting provider you have to consider what type of website that you want to display online. It may be just a blog for communicating with like-minded people about a particular interest or hobby that you have, or you may be starting your own internet business and will have many websites online in the future, you may be starting a membership site or a forum, or you may be starting an E-commerce site. Whatever your needs are, you have to make sure that you get the best web hosting plan to suit your requirements.
When considering the best method for how to host a website, free hosting is available, but it does come at a price! The price that you pay (as with everything that is "free") is that it has to be paid for somehow, and that is by advertising. This means that banner ads for products that you are not selling will be placed on every page of your website. The domain that you will have will normally be a sub-domain of the web host's site (yoursite.webhost.com) or a directory (www.webhost.com/yoursite). Most free hosting providers do not supply the normal extras that you get with paid hosting such as multiple email addresses, MySQL, PHP, ASP, large bandwidth etc. The performance and reliability of the site will not be as good as a paid hosting supplier, and you can only expect limited customer support. So, if you want some sound advice on how to host a website, then I would recommend that you do not use free web hosting providers in all but a few cases.
This is the most common hosting plan and is the best website hosting option for the average user. This is where multiple sites are hosted on the same server. There are huge benefits with shared hosting compared with free hosting because you are allowed to use your own domain name, you get multiple email accounts, My SQL, PHP, ASP, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited disk space, SSL certificate etc. There are different plans that are available for shared hosting, where you can get hosting for one domain only, or for a slightly higher fee you can have unlimited domains. For most personal websites and small business websites, a shared hosting plan is usually the most suitable option.
This is where you get the whole server to yourself. The hosting service provider leases an entire server to the client. This allows organisations to have greater control and security than with a shared server. This is only really used by larger businesses who need that level of control and can afford the higher fees associated with that package.
VPS (Virtual Private Servers) Hosting
With VPS, you share a server with other clients, but the individual sites are more isolated from each other to give clients increased reliability and security features. It is a cheaper option than the full dedicated server, but still a lot more expensive than shared hosting.
How to Host a Website - What Do I Need To Consider?
Bandwidth & Disk Space
This is not really an issue, as many companies offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space. You may find that there are some restrictions on the "unlimited" part of the deal, but for most applications you will have more bandwidth and disk space than you will ever need.
You will want your site to be online 24/7 so you need to ensure that your hosting provider has a good uptime guarantee. Many quote an uptime of 99.9%, which is more than adequate, although you might want to check by searching for some reviews on the hosting provider.
Because websites are a 24/7 business, then you want to ensure that you get 24/7 support.
Again, many companies offer unlimited email accounts, so if you think that you will need numerous email accounts, then check to see if there are a sufficient number included in your chosen package.
If you intend to run a Microsoft SQL server database or use Microsoft Active Server pages then you will need a Windows 2000 server, but for the average small website, then any type of server will do the job just fine. Check with the supplier beforehand if you are unsure.
There are also a lot of additional features that are included with hosting packages such as My SQL Databases, ASP, PHP, Unlimited Domains, SSL Certificate, Unlimited Autoresponders etc. If you are new to all of this and you have just decided to create your own website for the first time, then I would not be too concerned with these additional features. Your site will run fine without being concerned about these extras, and when you get more experienced and may decide on expanding your online presence, then you can look into what these mean and how they might be of benefit to you.