Are you planning to get a website for your personal brand or business but do not know where to start? These series of articles titled “Everything about a website” which will be published on a monthly basis are designed to help you to get started. I hope these articles will guide you through all the steps that you need to plan, launch and maintain a website.
Let’s go! Part 2: Hosting
After getting your domain name(read our previous post), you will need a hosting server and you are one step closer to getting your website running. More about hosting below.
1. What is hosting?
The term “hosting” pretty much means a computer(in the form of a server) that has a connection to the internet and a unique IP address. You can access the said server by typing its IP address(or domain name) into a browser and it will respond with a web page.
What makes a good hosting?Since a hosting is pretty much a computer on the internet, one of the more important aspects of a good hosting are the specs of the server. More RAM memory and powerful CPU will make a better hosting, because better specs means it will take less time for the server to compile the website, even when hundreds of users are accessing it at once.
The server must have high speed internet connection with all time availability. If the server is not connected to the internet, obviously once someone types your domain name into the browser, the website will not show up, since the request will be sent to a server that’s not available online. Websites run 24/7/365. Server machines work non stop, day and night, sometimes for years and in order to avoid breakdowns they need to be kept in well conditioned space.
The points above might not be that important to you if you are looking for a simple hosting for a basic website, but at least reading through the hosting plan you will get a better idea of their specifications.
Difference between private, shared and cloud hosting?Private(often called in-premise) hosting:
This is when you set up your own servers and infrastructure to run your application or website. Now obviously this comes with a huge cost of setting up the infrastructure, hiring the right people and maintaining everything on a daily basis. The pros of hosting your own private servers include having full and unlimited control over your server, your website and your data(which is a compulsory requirement for certain industries such as banking). Unless you are running a youtube scale website, the cost of running and maintaining private servers and their infrastructure will cause you a lot of headache to say the least.Shared hosting:
is the most popular option for small to medium size websites. Shared hosting means a hosting provider sets up a server, does all the configuration and gives tenancy to multiple clients. That means a number of websites will be hosted on a single server. While a shared hosting will definitely cost you a fraction of running a private server, the downside is the resource sharing and lack of control over the server. If one of the tenants runs a website that utilises most of the resources of the server, all the other tenants will face a problem with serving their users, either with a slow website or complete downtime. Also you are pretty much limited to the default setup of the server, because any changes to the server will affect all the tenants.Cloud Hosting:
this is where the best parts of two options we described above meet and form the ultimate hosting solution. So now imagine you want your own private server where you are the only tenant with full control, but do not want to manage the infrastructure. Cloud hosting providers basically manage the infrastructure(setting up the physical servers and locations) on their side, but instead of giving you access to the full server directly, they allocate the portion of a server’s resources for you by creating a virtual server. The physical machine is still being shared by multiple tenants, but since each tenant has their own virtual server, the actions of one tenant will have 0 effect on the rest and the control is exclusive for each tenant. This is why cloud servers are very popular at the moment.
In the age of data privacy, of course data security is mostly related to hosting. There are a number of important steps to take to insure a secure website, such as SSL installation, strong passwords and limited access. Most of the shared hosting providers provide these services by default, however things become a bit more manual, once you go for a private or a cloud server. We will have a dedicated blog to this matter soon.
How to manage a hosting?
For shared hosting, it’s all very simple. Once you purchase a shared hosting, they give you a graphical dashboard that you can use to upload your website and set up your domain. It’s very simple and you can do it with very limited technical knowledge, except in certain cases. For private and cloud servers there are specialists known as System manager or System Administrator that know how to set up a server and connect it to the global network with all the necessary security measures in place. Unless you have a background in system administration, we would not recommend even trying to do this on your own, as mistakes here can cause the whole system to crash and in worst case become non recoverable.
How much does a hosting cost?
As previously mentioned, shared hosting is the cheapest option with its limitations. It can cost anywhere from $5 per month to $50 per month, depending on the server computing power. If you are doing a simple corporate or personal website with standard home, about, services, portfolio and contact pages the very basic $5 package would do fine. More complex websites(say an ecommerce with payment and user accounts) will definitely require a stronger processing power and will perform better on a server that costs $15 and upwords.
Private servers are the most expensive option. Dedicated machines, software licensing, high speed internet, server space, 24/7 maintenance will definitely not cost anything less than 30 or 40 thousand($) a year.
Cloud servers prices vary largely. They can start somewhere as low as 20$ and go up to tens of thousands. The benefit here is that you only pay for what you are using. Say if you take only one single server, you pretty much pay for that single server + hosting provider service fee. You don’t worry about maintenance and upkeep costs that can be in tens of thousands.
Where can I purchase hosting packages?
For shared hosting we recommend godaddy.com or namecheap.com. In our experience they have the best availability compared to other service providers we have tried. Obviously we have not tried them all, in fact if you do find a better option do let us, we will happily update our articles.
For private servers it’s complicated and varies per case. You need to purchase all the hardware and software, the staff. We probably need to write a book to cover all of that. Perhaps next time.
For cloud servers, AWS and Google Cloud are two most popular choices. Either come with pros and cons of their own which we are not gonna cover here. Optionally you can also check your local hosting providers as most of them do provide cloud hosting(or also known as virtual private hosting).
I hope this article helped you to understand hosting and their use case better. The next article will be posted here soon.