Web Hosting Basics | John Chow dot Com

Just as there are so many different companies that offer domain registration, there are possibly even more than offer web hosting. While it doesn’t matter all that much which domain registration service you use, it does matter tremendously which web hosting provider and web hosting plan you choose.

Your Home on the Web

Some hosts are simply more reliable than others and you don’t want to have your website hosted somewhere that suffers from significant downtime. After all, what’s the point of having a website if no one can actually get to it on a reliable basis?

Speed and connectivity are another major concern, because page load times are becoming increasingly important both for the user and for search engine optimization reasons. People heavily prefer websites that load quickly and this is heavily dependent on the web hosting provider, as well as geographic proximity between the server and the end user.

The available providers and plans for web hosting are incredibly varied and numerous, so you’ll want to do your due diligence before settling on your preferred solution. Read reviews. See what other customers have had to say. Compare the value proposition between web hosting plans across different web hosting providers.

What to Look For

What should you be looking for when choosing a plan? Here are a few important factors to keep in mind:

  • Number of domains or add-on domains supported
  • Amount of online/cloud storage
  • Number of mySQL databases
  • Monthly traffic and bandwidth limits
  • Personalized email addresses
  • cPanel and FTP access
  • One-click software installation wizards
  • Uptime guarantees
  • Content delivery network (CDN) options available
  • Technical support availability and options
  • Online chat for technical support
  • Monthly price relative to value provided

Even if you think that you’re only going to have one blog, it’s worthwhile to consider web hosting plans that can accommodate extra domains and mySQL databases (the latter is the technology used for organizing all the content within your blog posts, including the posts themselves and metadata like the publication date and the title) in case you ever change your mind. You might decide to spin off another site at some point.

Growing with Your Business

The good news is that, in general, you’re not “stuck” with whatever hosting plan you choose initially. These companies are generally more than happy if you decide that you need to upgrade your plan at a later date to take advantage of more storage, more bandwidth or more features.

While there is certainly variation between providers, many will give you a choice between shared web hosting, reseller hosting, virtual private server (VPS) hosting and dedicated servers, or some combination thereof. Some offer WordPress-optimized hosting too. It’s important to note that even if you plan on using WordPress for your site, you don’t necessarily need a plan that caters specifically for WordPress. Regular shared plans can usually handle that too.

Depending on where you go, the cheapest shared hosting plan might start somewhere around $5/month and go up from there based on a number of factors. The most common differentiators between plans are the number of sites allowed, the amount of storage provided, and the amount of monthly bandwidth offered. Many plans may also offer automatic backups, as well as a possible option for a global content delivery network (CDN).

This means that no matter where your website visitor resides in the world, he or she will be connected to a server that is closest to his or her location. This provides the fastest, most dependable connection possible, leading to the best reader experience possible.

There is usually a discount for purchasing a longer period of web hosting, up to three years at a time. You’ll typically want to match the length of your web hosting service with the length of your domain registration. That makes the most logical sense.

Domains and Web Hosting

It is definitely possible to purchase your domain name and web hosting through two different companies. Lots of people do this and it’s a very common practice. That being said, sometimes it can be so much more convenient if you do it all through one provider. You get one bill and the data is all in one place.

There’s another advantage. When you purchase your services through two different providers, you must then go through the additional step of setting up what are known as your DNS settings. DNS stands for domain name system or domain name server. Basically, it tells your domain where it should be “pointing” (your web hosting space).

If you purchase your services through one provider, these fields can oftentimes be automatically populated on your behalf and you don’t have to jump through this extra hoop. Simplicity really is a wonderful thing and skipping this technical detail ticks another item off your to-do list.

How Much Will It Cost?

Between the domain registration and entry-level web hosting plan, you can probably expect to spend somewhere around $100 (if not a little more) each year as your basic cost of owning and operating a blog.

You don’t really have to spend any other money unless you want to purchase some premium themes, plugins or any number of other possibilities. When you compare this cost to how much it would cost to run a more traditional brick-and-mortar business, you start to realize just how affordable it is to launch a legitimate blog as a legitimate money-making business.

Of course, as your site grows, you may need to invest in more technology and a bigger hosting plan. I can say with certainty that John definitely spends more than $100 a year running this site!

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