When you are designing a website, web hosting is one of the least exciting steps to take. However, it also happens to be incredibly important. Without hosting, your website can’t get off the ground. With the wrong hosting, your website might fall short just as it is about to take off.
Nowadays, you can get paid or free website hosting from platforms like Wix with ease. You don’t need to do hours of research to choose the best option to start with, and can rely on their hosting to work at all times. That said, it is important to know what web hosting features to look for and the different types of web hosting. After all, what works for you now may change if you take your website in a new direction.
Let’s start by explaining the essential features of web hosting.
Web Hosting: Features
When you choose a hosting plan, you have to decide how much bandwidth you’ll need. The hosting provider offers bandwidth on a server of their own. If you do not expect much traffic and do not need bandwidth-heavy functionality, you can choose a shared server on which bandwidth is first-come-first-serve. If you need more bandwidth, you will have to choose a more expensive plan.
Most hosting providers offer a Virtual Private Server (VPS) option that gives you guaranteed space on a server. Most individuals and businesses do not need more than this, but sites that host high amounts of traffic may require a dedicated server.
IP Address (Shared or Dedicated)
The hosting option you choose will also determine the IP address which your website sends out. If you are using a shared server, your website will share an IP address with a number of other sites. If you are using a dedicated server, your IP address should never be used by anyone else.
One of the most important features you should look at when choosing hosting is the uptime of the hosting provider. Uptime refers to the proportion of time their servers are up-and-running and not facing outages. Downtime is a reality for all hosts, but it should not amount to a significant proportion.
Your hosting provider may offer a personalized domain name for a yearly price. However, you do not have to buy a domain name through the hosting you use. You could choose to go with a domain name bought for a cheaper price elsewhere or that you bought in the past from a hosting provider you are no longer happy with.
Different websites require different amounts of storage space. Some websites require the bare minimum, considering they consist of mostly text-based content. However, websites which host high quality photos and videos will require much more storage space. Check that your hosting provider offers good storage plans. They should also make it easy for you to upgrade if you eventually need more.
Your hosting provider should offer secure privacy protocols. This is not only for the sake of your data, but for your visitors as well. Websites hosted by providers with poor privacy protocols might be flagged by web browsers which will warn visitors before they enter your site.
The control panel of your web hosting gives you the functionality you need to connect your website. Your requirements will differ based on what kind of web design you are using. You will need fairly little functionality if you are using a website builder, but will need a lot more if you are designing it yourself.
Types of Web Hosting
There are two main types of web hosting:
- Traditional hosting
- Cloud hosting
Traditional hosting uses specific servers to store your website. Cloud hosting uses the cloud by storing your website across the hosting provider’s servers.
Each of these types of hosting provide similar options for website owners, including shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated server. Cloud hosting is the more modern solution. It is also more expensive, however, and is unnecessary if you are happy to go the traditional route.
Should I Get Free Web Hosting?
It is possible to get free web hosting using a hosting service provider like Wix. With a website builder, you get all the benefits of hosting and will not need to upgrade in order to get better performance. However, you will need to use their web building platform only. You also need to pay for certain add-ons.
For example, you will need to pay if you want to purchase and connect a domain name. Without a subscription, you will always have to use a domain name with an extra extension. You will also have to run ads on your website.
In other words, you’re not paying for hosting. Rather, you are paying for a complete website building service which provides all the tools you need. You will, however, have to use the web builder’s platform in order to access their free hosting.