Web Hosting – Essentials Explained

Web

5 January 2012

Essentials Explained is designed to help you understand the fundamentals of marketing your business and the related areas. This time we will be breaking down website hosting, to help you understand how to get your website up and running.

Website hosting is the way your website reaches the rest of the world, using the internet. But before we get into website hosting there are a few things we need to understand.

The internet

The internet is a collection of interconnected computers that is made up of smaller computer networks.

Host computers or web servers

Host computers also known as web servers are the computers in the networks that store the website information.

How they work together

All of the websites on the internet are held by host computers. Our personal computers access this information from the host computers using a message based system called the world wide web (WWW).

Therefore to share your company website, you will need to have a copy of it stored on a host computer.

Now that we understand that, we can continue to the basics of website hosting.

Website hosting

Website hosting is the storage of your website on the host computer. This is done by a website hosting service.

There are many factors you should consider when selecting a hosting service, including:

Where is the server located?
Overseas website hosts may provide a good service at a good price but there can also be pitfalls of using them.

  1. Generally, sites load slower outside of their home country.
  2. It can potentially interfere with your e-mail delivery.
  3. It can affect your search engine ranking (the order your website appears in when searching in Google).
  4. Maintenance scheduled for low usage times in the host country can result in your site being down at peak times in your country.

What is the connection speed?
You need to make sure your website loads as fast as possible because first impressions are key to survival on the internet just like a companies branding. If the hosting service is using old, low quality computers this will effect your websites performance. Ask friends or family in different locations to view your website and time how long it takes to load.

What is their level of security?
Will someone be able to make unauthorised changes to my website? Every hosting company must implement certain security procedures to ensure that your website is as secure as possible. This is down to facilities like “firewalls” as well as minimum password requirements such as 10 characters or more.

What is the total amount of space l need?
Many hosting services in Australia offer extremely small amounts of space, around 200 megabytes in fact which is less than what you can fit on a CD! Your website will typically take up around 50 to 200 megabytes of space for a standard portfolio website and 250 megabytes or more for an online shop. This is not even taking into account space for emails that you will be sending or receiving.

What kind of support do they provide?
Will you be able to reach them when you are having internet problems? Support is crucial to your business no matter what service or product you are purchasing. With hosting services the key areas to look for are telephone support and email or “ticket” support. With telephone support you need to make sure they will be available to take your call when you need them, this is especially important if the hosting service is based overseas. Email support is typically 24/7 however if they are located overseas there might be a delay so you need to take this into account.

How often do they backup?
Will important information be lost if the worst happens? You need to make sure that if there is an issue you can restore your website to its former glory. Majority of hosting services provide backup options both automatic and manual, some you have to pay for additionally, others are bundled into the price so make sure you know this before signing any contract.

Shared Server, Virtual Private Server, Dedicated Server, which should l choose?

Shared Servers mean you are sharing a host computers space with tens maybe thousands of other websites. This solution is perfectly fine if you have a simple portfolio website.

Virtual Private Servers or VPS are designed for those with more technical ability to install and configure their account to for their websites needs. This solution is targeted more towards running online shops and dedicated applications but at a more cost efficient way than owning your own web server. There are typically less websites on a VPS than a shared server so your website will perform better.

Dedicated Servers are basically your own web server and you share it with no-one. This is the ultimate solution for business critical websites dealing with thousands if not millions of customers.

Why you can’t host your own site

To run a host computer you require powerful server hardware, a high speed connection that runs permanently, specific software, and the ability to constantly maintain this equipment. In light of this it is generally easier and more cost effective to use a hosting service.

We now have a brand new Australian server, as well as their UK server, providing all customers with the best possible web hosting. If you would like us to look after your website hosting contact us to discuss how we can meet your needs.