How to Host a Website: In-Depth Guide & Tips [2021]

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In layman’s terms, web hosting is an online service that consists of storing files for your website to stay published on the internet. Although websites are virtual entities, they actually need a physical residence in a server of the hosting providers.

Every website you’ve ever visited is hosted on a web server, including this one. There are many aspects to be considered when explaining how to host a website, so this article will draw the curtain to present you with:

  • How web hosting works
  • Web hosting pricing
  • The purposes of web hosting
  • A step-by-step guide for web hosting
  • FAQs

What Is Web Hosting and How Does It Work?

Take a look at this glossary to better grasp the subject matter in the article:

  • Domain: A domain is your website address that users type in the URL bar to access.
  • Server: A supercomputer that keeps all your website’s files.
  • Uptime: The amount of time a server is operational and online.
  • Downtime: The amount of time a server is inoperational or unavailable.
  • Domain Name System (DNS): a global network of servers.
  • Name Server: a web server (i.e., a computer) managed by the hosting provider.

“What is website hosting?” is a question that not every internet user can answer. Millions of people spend hours surfing the internet daily. The vast majority of them never made an effort to discover how a website persists worldwide. Therefore, let’s roll into the web hosting process and explain some key terms along the way.

First, you need to buy a domain for your website. Dozens of websites sell domains at affordable prices with various extensions. The first two steps to host a website are checking whether the desired domain name is available and making a one-time purchase.

Then, you need to look for the best hosting company to host your website. Some companies offer both domain names and hosting services. Compare hosting providers before making the final call and ensure they have high-performance servers with as close as 99% uptime.

The server is, in fact, a parcel that your website has rented, for which you pay a monthly maintenance fee. It keeps your website’s files such as HTML pages, website builder software, text, images, etc.

Here’s how hosting a website works. When you enter your domain address in the browser address bar, it sends a DNS command. The DNS searches for the name servers associated with that particular domain and forwards the request to them.

Thus the hosting provider redirects the request to the specific web server where the information about your website is stored. The web server takes bits of information related to the particular web page located on your website and sends them back to the search engine.

To host a website, you need to create it from scratch first. You can manually code your website, creating it in an old-fashioned way using HTML, CSS, or Javascript. That is quite convenient for websites that don’t have plenty of content or don’t plan to add dozens of articles per day because coding them will take forever.

On the other hand, building your website with a website builder program that writes the code for you is a hassle-free solution.

If your website needs greater functionality and versatility, you can resort to introducing popular content management systems (CMSs), such as WordPress, Joomla, etc., to create blogs. How to choose a web host in such circumstances is more straightforward – you look for companies that provide hosting services tailored exclusively for WordPress websites.

If you have already created a website and hosted it on a web server but would like to transfer it to another web server, consider it possible. It is a pretty seamless process where you access your existing files and upload them through the new provider’s hosting control center.

How Much Does It Cost to Host a Website?

These are the most frequently used hosting services whether you’ve just started your website or would like to take it to the next level.

Why Do You Need Web Hosting?

So what is web hosting in simple terms? Web hosting is the storage of website files necessary to run a website and software to deliver those files when requested via the internet.  The files and the software are kept on a powerful computer referred to as a server.

In theory, you can host your website on your desktop computer on the condition that you have the expertise of setting it properly to run the website. Remember that your computer has to be connected to the internet at all times, and it gives access only to one user at a time. A many as two users on your website will make it “crash.” The downtime could prove fatal to your business.

The answer to the question, “Can I host my own website?” isn’t a definite “No.” However, hosting it from your own home is highly impractical because buying powerful and fast servers is way more expensive than making monthly payments to a hosting provider of your choice. Besides, you need a 24/7 internet connection with a lot of bandwidth, which is not always available, and the know-how to manage everything properly. It is every bit as complicated as it sounds.

Step-by-Step Website Hosting Guide

Hosting is as easy as ABC if you know what your ABCs are. Have a look at how to host your own website.

  • Buy a Domain Name

Any website has to have a name or an internet address so that visitors can reach it. The domain should be closely related to your websites’ niche so that when people look for a specific subject, your website will hopefully pop up in the first-page results. After all, websites are made to be found.

Any domain registrar’s website sells domains at various prices according to the popularity of the extension and the name itself. You can also buy domain names from individuals whose websites no longer exist, and they’re willing to sell the domain. Prices vary according to the popularity of the extension and the name itself.

  • Ask Yourself About the Type of Site You’re Building

What kind of project are you about to start? Is it an online store, a one-page website, a blog, a company’s website? This information is crucial before hosting your own website to get enough bandwidth to support the visitors and enough storage to accommodate large numbers of files. That will be the winning factor that will impact your choice of a hosting provider.

  • How Much Data Will You Need to Store and Serve?

Suppose you’re building a several-page portfolio, a personal, professional resume, or an informative landing page as a single item of a website. In that case, your website can do with shared hosting as the resources necessary will be very low.

On the other hand, there is no doubt about how to host a website with a lot of content, meaning managed hosting is paramount for running blogs, news websites, and websites of companies or educational institutions.

  • How Much Traffic Do You Expect?

As said above, the websites in perfect harmony with shared hosting need little space and resources to function frictionlessly. Yet, sometimes you don’t know the odds of getting a flood of visitors and whether you get the idea of upgrading your rubrics and starting pouring content. The more content you post, the more engagement and traffic you can expect. In that case, signing up for a managed hosting is mandatory.

  • Your Hosting Budget

With hosting, what you pay is what you get. Even when you sign up for low-cost web hosting, you might get some incentives such as unlimited email accounts, a free SSL certificate, or a free domain name.

That said, your web hosting package may increase double in price once your first year of hosting is over, which may take away some of these perks. Higher prices come with better performance, bandwidth, and reliability, more generous disc space, and more.

  • Choose a Website Hosting Service Provider 

When you’re thinking of how to find a website host, have in mind that the price isn’t the determining factor in your pursuit. There is more to hosting services than just making your website available online. You must know your website’s technical requirements so that you can compare providers relating to the features they offer and choose some of the following types of hosting:

Shared Hosting 

The term is self-explanatory. With shared hosting, you share the server on which your website is hosted with other websites. It is cost-effective if you’re starting a business, and it’s a place to host your own website, especially if it’s a small-scale one that has no frequent traffic.

Shared hosting also means shared performance, which is the biggest drawback. The websites on the same software that have gained immense popularity will use significantly more resources, which will harm your website’s performance.

Pros ✅

  • Low price
  • cPanel or Plesk included
  • Easy use
  • No administration issues

Cons ❌

  • Limited disc space
  • Liable to scams due to shared IP
  • Limitations to server customization
  • Lack of admin access
Dedicated Hosting

The cost to host a website with dedicated web hosting is considerably higher than the shared one because you have ultimate control over the whole server. You are the sole user of the server’s resources, which equals higher speed and performance.

It is most suitable for businesses with high-traffic websites that can’t tolerate slow-downs. Yet, the prices and the number of available features (inodes) increase in line with the complexity of managing it.

Pros ✅

  • Custom configuration
  • Freedom to install any feature
  • Unlimited choice of OS
  • Reliable performance

Cons ❌

  • High price
  • Demanding support
  • Backups recommended
  • Requires technical know-how
VPS Hosting 

The best way to host a website that gradually starts growing is to use a virtual private server (VPS). It shares one physical server but behaves like multiple servers.

Expressly, each website hosted on its partition has guaranteed dedicated resources. It is recommended to users who are well-versed with server management and highly tech-savvy. They can access their server partition and customize the software on the server. VPS hosting costs more than simple shared hosting but otherwise has its benefits.

Pros ✅

  • Easily scalable plans
  • Ease of customization
  • Lower price than dedicated hosting
  • Semi or fully managed plans

Cons ❌

  • Not fully customizable
  • Specialist support necessary
  • Limited resources and disc space
  • Not secure
Cloud Hosting 

Cloud hosting is done on a virtual server. Many would ask: “How does this web hosting work when there are no physical servers?” It is a cluster of many computers where the hosted websites make use of their combined resources. For instance, if you get an unorthodox spike in traffic, the web hosting plan can accommodate it using the other computers’ available resources in the network rather than shutting your website down.

Cloud-based hosting is suitable for small or medium websites that need more resources, including the server’s ability to handle traffic surges on the go. The service is moderately priced.

Pros ✅

  • Cost-efficient plans
  • Flexibility and scalability
  • Disaster recovery
  • Better uptime and performance

Cons ❌

  • Capped speeds
  • Security risks
  • Lack of control over features
  • Frequent server downtime
WordPress Hosting 

Where to host a website running on WordPress is no longer a tight-squeeze issue because with WordPress taking over the market, countless web hosts offer managed WordPress hosting with advanced features to unleash the real power of WordPress.

By choosing this service, the web will keep your WordPress installation up-to-date and prevent hacker breaches into your website. Some web hosts offer a free website transition depending on your chosen web hosting package.

Pros ✅

  • Optimized servers for WordPress
  • Ease of management
  • Bigger reliability
  • Better performance and speed

Cons ❌

  • Higher price
  • No email hosting
  • Limited storage
  • No option for installing a multisite
Reseller Hosting 

Reseller hosting comes with extra tools to help you resell your server space to other clients. Can you host your own website? As mentioned earlier, if you have the technical knowledge and assets to purchase disc space, sell part of it to others, and earn money in the process, you can certainly host your website. Reseller hosting is convenient for individuals or businesses with some technical know-how who want to make a profit by reselling server spaces to users.

Pros ✅

  • Affordable cost
  • Room to expand
  • Brand-building opportunity
  • Income opportunity

Cons ❌

  • Dedicated time to customer service
  • Original website dependence
  • Limited access to the server
  • Managing complexity

When choosing your website provider, have the following features in mind:

  • Hosting Server Reliability & Uptime

  • Uptime Guarantee 

A timeout 504 Error equals a non-existent page, at least for most Internet users who aren’t quite tech-savvy. To prevent such a calamity, look for a web host that guarantees a 99% uptime or above. However, if you’re running a small-scale website, downtime will never be an issue.

  • Redundancy

If your website is the sole source of income, you can’t afford downtime because that means a profit loss. Look for hosting providers that offer monetary compensation for your loss in case their servers go down, and thus you’ll minimize the cost to host a website.

  • Technical Specifications

  • Database Type 

Almost all web applications require a database to store diverse kinds of data. Relational databases allow multiple people to read or write data to the database. Popular database types are MySQL, Microsoft SQL (not free), and PostgreSQL.

  • Bandwidth Offering

Bandwidth measures indicate how much data has been transferred in the process of interaction between the visitors and your website. Websites that rely on videos and real-time broadcasts may need a bandwidth quota of circa 150 GB a month, while 10 GB will suffice for text-based ones.

  • Scalability

When your business starts to grow, the capacity of your server will shrink. Therefore, you need to ensure that your server can upgrade individual resources as the need demands. Scalability is one of the features that will tell you whether and how to choose a web host.

  • Accessibility

Another thing to have in mind is to ensure that your hosting provider has the tools to manage your hosting plan, meaning you need to be provided with a reliable control panel to manage your databases, monitor emails, etc.

  • Hosting Support – Customer Service

Hosting issues result in money, nerves, and website traffic loss. That is why it is crucial that your web host has the best customer support available via phone, live chat, or email and respond as fast as possible once they get your call or ticket.

  •  Security Measures and Add-ons

  • SSL Certificates

If your website supports online transactions or collects any kind of personal data, then add an SSL certificate to the cost to host a website. Nowadays, if you want to have an improved SEO rank on Google, an SSL Certificate will enhance your chances.

  • Backups

If your website shuts down or suffers a cyber attack and has its data tampered with, you’ll need to be able to revert to an older software version. Your hosting provider should do backups for 24 hours to lose both data and heart if something unexpected happens.

  • Email Service

Apart from hosting, web hosts usually provide an email service with the possibility of creating as many accounts as you wish.

Wrap Up 

How to host a website is what you need to know when you are about to kick off your online venture. Finding the right hosting solution is crucial for a sustainable feature-wise and money-wise project depending on what type of website you’re building. Hosting your website is theoretically possible but not recommended due to the vast costs and high technical knowledge.

FAQ

How to host a website for free?

Many managed host providers automatically set up free hosting for up to one year. Some of them even give you a one-year trial before signing up for anything. However, the resources are minimal, and Google doesn’t pick up your domain name or content published on your website.

What sum will I pay to host a website?

Website hosting costs depend on the services offered by the hosting provider. You can always shift to a higher-priced plan when your website has gained popularity, since you would now need more bandwidth and inodes. Some of the hosts offer a money-back guarantee of up to 90 days.

Does a website need a host?

Absolutely. You need website hosting to store your website’s files. They are kept on a server connected to the internet which “serves” your website to the users. There are hosting companies that charge you a small monthly fee to handle all your equipment, infrastructure, and other associated needs. How to host a website is no longer an issue since companies can do that for you.

ABOUT AUTHOR

When I’m not writing at my desk, I’m devoted to ESL teaching and doing certified court translation. A vivid writer, a keen traveler, and an adventurous soul as curious as humanity. The world is my oyster.

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