For those businesses, associations and organizations who are about to augment their brick-and-mortar establishment with a website, we’ve put together a primer to help you understand the hosting process. We’d like to better help you understand what web hosting is, terms you’ll encounter and other facts as you begin this new endeavor.
We Recommend GoDaddy
Seeking to move quickly? Check-out the deluxe hosting package from Godaddy.com. It costs less than $6.00 per month. And it’s perfect for companies who expect fewer than 500 visitors to their website every day. This will give you not only a website that can be viewed on a desktop or laptop; it also translates your website to mobile, smart-phone devices.
Medium-to-Large Businesses: Explaining Web Hosting
The pages on your website have to reside in a virtual environment. That’s where a third-party server comes into play. You need to be hosted — a place to put your Internet materials.
Occasionally, a business owner would prefer to keep everything in-house. For those people, ask yourself: Do you have an IT department with an Internet skill set? If so, are you willing to pay them to be on-call 24/7/365 in case a problem occurs? What’s your budget for equipment, software, connectivity to the web, etc.?
Answering those questions might lead you to decide that it’s more cost-effective to contract with a third-party to keep your files and apps on outside servers.
Top Five Web Hosting Options
Your choice for a web host comes down to your needs. Below are your choices, including what you can expect to pay:
Shared Hosting (less than $10 a month).
The cost is the advantage. The downside is that your server is shared with others. Nevertheless, this should be fine for most smaller establishments. Think of it this way: Shared hosting is like having roommates who help pay for the server. This keeps the price reasonable.
A caution: If you start to experience a lot of visitors (or one of the businesses you share the server with does), guests to your website can experience slowdowns. However, the more respectable hosting companies (like Godaddy.com) have nearly eliminated this issue. Without going into details, their technology is “share-friendly.” Again, because the server is shared, you don’t have much control over how the server is configured.
Virtual Private Server ($20 to $150 per month).
For those who want more configuration control, this might be a good option. It will cost you more for that advantage. You are paying for a contracted amount of space assigned to you.
Dedicated Server ($100 to $250 per month per server)
This option is more complicated but you will be afforded full control. You will need to pick and train a member of your IT team to be the liaison and assume “ownership” between your business and the host company. This option is best for bigger businesses. With a dedicated server account you will be able to configure the server to whatever your needs may be.
Co-Location Facility ($200+ per month + Cost of Equipment).
This is the most expensive choice. You will have to purchase all of the equipment and software. The hosting company will take care of things like the internet connection, climate control, and power. Unlike an in-house solution, you will not be responsible in the event of a power outage, interrupted Internet connections or keeping your property from environmental issues that are unsafe for the equipment.
Cloud Hosting (Price Based on Usage).
New to the scene is cloud hosting. You basically pay for what you need. You lose some control, but if your business has peaks-and-valleys (when it comes to visitors), this might be a good deal for you. The plus side of cloud hosting is the flexibility it allows. For instance, if you receive a lot of traffic one day, and not too much the next, consider this option.
Terms You Will Encounter
Take a moment to review some of the terms you’ll encounter as you consider web hosting:
How wide is the pipe (or bandwidth) which lets users access your site? You can purchase by the amount of bandwidth or pick a so-called unlimited package. In a way, unlimited does have its limitations. Like with a road, just because there is not a limit on how much traffic is allowed on the road, that doesn’t mean there will not be a traffic jam.
This one is simple. How much will the hosting company allow you to store on their servers? For instance, video files are large. Run-of-the-mill pages are small. Review how much space you think you’ll need before you make a choice.
Linux vs. Windows Servers.
Linux is the most popular. It will even allow, in most cases, Windows applications to function well on a Linux Server. The decision rests on proprietary Windows apps that will not run on a Linux Server.
For those with a WordPress, Joomla! or other content management system (CMS), you’ll need a database to store your content. In the early days of web design, a website had pages which could number in the thousands. A CMS-based system may only have two design templates. The content is “dynamically rendered” to a page from the database as a user accesses the particular one they want to view.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate.
Look at your browser’s pane where the Internet address resides. Normally you’ll see “http” followed by the URL. However, for those businesses doing transactions an “s” is added (“https”). This additional letter gives the user protection when you purchase an SSL Certificate. For businesses not selling anything, you probably don’t need this added measure of security.
A place like Godaddy.com will pass-out discounts, coupons for Google, Bing and Facebook and other bonuses that could save you money in free advertising for your business. By seeking-out perks, it could actually offset the money you spent for your first year of hosting.
For more information on picking a hosting package, please read Web Hosting Basics.
Once you figured out where you want to host your site, the question becomes how to build a website. Here are some resources that can help you get up a professional looking, functional website: