Web hosting can be compared to the premises used every day for a business. After all, your website has to be “stored” somewhere. You need some space and some facilities – pretty much like a physical business address.
Hosting is, to put it simply; a computer which is permanently connected to the Internet, on which your website is stored. Of course these machines have become specialized over time, and require special software (server software).
There are a number of options available, and it is easy to make the wrong choice if you are just starting out. However, once you know the basics, you should be able to make sensible choices.
Here’s what you need to know:
Websites like WordPress.com, Blogger.com, Weebly and Yola will allow you to build a free website. It is hosted on their servers, and the address is a subdomain of their own domain name (yourblogname.theirwebsite.com).
On the positive side, it is easy to come by, and it does not cost anything. Additionally, since these websites are huge, they are running off fast servers that help your website to load quickly.
On the negative side, you lack facilities which could help you improve your website or blog, and these limitations can hamper the progress of your site. Additionally, if you ever have to move it, you are bound to lose some of your visitors because you moved to a new address. Of course, moving it can also be complicated – especially if you want to move it to a different type of platform.
Not only that, but the “powers that be” can essentially shut down your website at any time and you have absolutely no say over it. So if you invest a lot of work into your website, hosted solutions like these can be a bit dangerous.
Theoretically it is entirely possible to host your own website from home – on your own computer over your own Internet connection. However, many ISP (Internet service providers) deem this unacceptable, so please read the terms of service first.
On the positive side, it is free, you have total control, and you can set up as big a computer as you like. On the negative side, it can be very technical, and if you lack the skills it can be near to impossible. Additionally, your website’s loading speed will depend on the quality of your Internet connection.
With shared hosting, your website will share one server (computer) with a number of others. The packages differ from one hosting company to the next, and you will have to consider your options according to your needs.
On the positive side, it is cheap, easy to get set up, and it usually contains easy-to-use scripts for installing things like blogs, forums, classified ads, etc.
On the negative side, you will have to keep in mind that since you are sharing one machine with many other people, there will be times when your website will be slow, and even so-called “unlimited” packages will be limited in one way or another.
A dedicated server is one physical machine allocated to your hosting needs. It is – ultimately – the way to go.
On the positive side, it is the fastest possible form of hosting, allowing you to have your website loading quickly even if you have loads of visitors to your website. Additionally, it is a lot closer to “unlimited hosting” than any shared package could be.
On the negative side, it is expensive, and it requires some technical ability. So consider carefully before deciding to go with a dedicated server.
A Word of Wisdom
If you intend to do business online, or start a website or blog that will eventually be making you money, the least you should go for is shared hosting. It is not free, but at least you will be in control of your website and its facilities.
That means that no hosting “powers that be” can suddenly shut you down without warning. Additionally, it is a lot easier to move from shared to dedicated hosting than it is to move from a free host to a paid host (when the need arises).
Options for both shared and dedicated servers:
Annie Wallace is a viral marketing blogger and WAHM who writes for Home Loan Finder, the refinancing home loan comparison tool. Check out this infographic for a good example of social-media-friendly content marketing strategy.