When you build a website, as well as using one of the best website builders, you’ll also need to utilize the best web hosting for it to run smoothly online. But what is web hosting?
Most businesses need an office; all websites need web hosting, as without it they can’t be based on the internet. Web hosting is a service whereby you pay a web host, and they provide you with resources that you’ll need to run your website on the internet.
These resources depend on the type of hosting you go for, and the price you pay. You’re given access to a certain amount, and it usually concerns storage space and network bandwidth, which are allocated on one or more physical servers in a data center owned by the web hosting provider of your choice.
A wide variety of web hosting services are available, from free hosting all the way up to enterprise-level packages, and depending on the technical requirements of your site, and your own personal technical knowledge, you can pay for and use these to access adequate site resources for your website.
Below, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know, so that you can then make the correct choice for your site’s web hosting.
Take a look at our video below for a quick primer on what web hosting is, and what you need to know!
What is web hosting?
A website needs resources to stay online. These resources include such things as storage space for the site’s content, and network bandwidth to let visitors smoothly access it. While the storage makes sure that you have enough space to store all your site’s files, bandwidth is the capacity of data that can be transferred between the website and its users.
The resources are obtained from a server—which is really just a powerful computer that’s connected to the internet at all times. Typically, a web hosting provider will have a large number of servers spread across one or more remote data centers. Depending on the plan you go for, the provider will allocate a set amount of resources on these servers for your website to use.
Web hosting: free or paid?
A question that a lot of budding website owners seem to ask is whether they should invest in a paid web hosting provider, or just choose a free one. Free web hosting services are indeed available, but they are limited in nature and often come with certain strings attached.
Mostly, they are a way for a web hosting provider to advertise their more powerful paid hosting plans. For example, free web hosting will often limit the amount of storage space you can use or the number of visitors who can access your website in a given month. Services may even display intrusive advertisements on your website.
These things can greatly impact the functioning of a professional site, which is why the best free web hosting is only recommended when you are working on a personal project with no financial implications. If, however, you are using your website for professional or business purposes, a paid hosting plan is a must-have.
What are the different types of web hosting?
There are different types of web hosting services available in the market. They differ in aspects such as server speed, disk space, network bandwidth, and various secondary features. Depending on your specific circumstances, you can choose a plan with the resources that fit your needs and budget. Below are a few common forms of web hosting.
Who are the best web hosting providers?
There are several tens, if not hundreds, of web hosting providers vying for space in the website industry. Because of the sheer number of options available, choosing the right hosting provider can prove quite challenging. We outline our top picks in our guide to the best web hosting services, but here’s a summary of the top web hosts in the market right now to make your search a little easier.
What kind of web hosting is right for you?
Generally speaking, the three things to look out for in any great web hosting provider—apart from storage and bandwidth—are server speeds, uptime guarantees, and customer support.
A good web host will always offer great speeds and reliable uptime, along with dedicated round-the-clock customer support. You should generally look for at least 99.9% uptime and 24/7 customer support from all hosting providers.
When choosing the right web hosting provider and plan, you have to keep in mind both short-term functioning and long-term scalability. Some hosting providers are easier to upgrade and transfer out of than others. Some even offer dedicated upgrade options and website migration tools.
However, no one web hosting company will be able to offer you a great deal in all these aspects, especially if you have budget constraints. This is where you will have to prioritize based on your business’s needs. As long as you stick to a reputable provider, however, you shouldn’t run into any issues.
Further reading on web hosting and website builders
Once you’ve created a site with one of the best website builders, discover the common mistakes to avoid when choosing your web hosting provider; how your web hosting impacts security; our comparison of managed vs unmanaged hosting; and the five best anonymous hosting solutions to protect your privacy.