An Introduction to Web Hosting – A Beginners Guide


If you have considered web hosting but just feel overwhelmed, you are in the right place. Securing web hosting services can seem like a huge endeavor; whether you are setting up a personal page or have been tasked with getting a business onto the web. In reality, there are only a few decisions that need to be made to get started. Below are some of the things you should look at when considering web hosting options.

Finding a Company – Three Important Factors

When deciding on hosting, the company you choose to do the web hosting really matters. There are plenty to choose from and some research into each company will help you find one that not only is affordable but also provides excellent customer service, plenty of features and access to free server-based applications.

When comparing companies based upon price, be sure to get pricing for different packages so you are able to compare hosting packages that are identical, or as close to identical as possible. The other choices you make below will affect pricing which is why it is important to get pricing for different options:

Server Stability

Researching each company should involve some third party websites to see how the web hosting companies rate. These ratings need to be looked at carefully in three areas. Percentage of downtime is one of the most critical. Even if your web hosting needs are for non-business purposes, excessive downtime will make it difficult for you as well as those trying to view the site.

Acceptable downtime should only be about 40 minutes per month which equates to about .1% downtime. Anything over 1-2% indicates that there is something going on with the company; whether it is internal business issues or external problems such as frequent hacking attempts, it should encourage you to move on. That said, if they have had one bad month, chalk it up to bad luck; however if they are consistently having issues, there are always other companies with better uptime ratings at the same price point.

Customer Service

The second rating to look into is more subjective. Researching web hosting companies will indicate which handle problems and customer service issues the best. For example, scheduled server maintenance should always be announced to customers but some companies choose not to alert customers which can easily affect their web-based businesses. Understanding the hours and availability of technical support is important as well as this is a place where it is very easy to cut costs.

If you feel you are going to need tech support at 2 am, then you need to find a company that has customer service hours that match your needs. Some budget hosting companies do not even offer phone support and email support is the only option with slower turn around. If 48 hours to resolve a hosting issue is acceptable, then email only tech support will be ok; however, for most people this is not acceptable.

Applications – You Never Know When You May Need Them

Finally, research the availability and quality of server applications each web hosting company provides. Even if you do not intend on using the applications today, having them available in the future could end up being important. For example, an entrepreneur may initially setup an account for web hosting simply to have sales pages for affiliate marketing campaigns running. They realize later that they need to find alternate ways to drive traffic to their sales pages aside from AdWords advertising and decide to add a blog.

If their hosting company supports and has WordPress or another blog authoring suite available to be installed and configured for free, then they can easily add this to their site. If they had not looked into finding a web hosting company with extra features, they would either have to pay extra to have it installed or would have to change web hosting companies.

Shared vs. Dedicated Hosting

If you are starting a web site for personal reasons or have a website where you do not expect excessive traffic you can save quite a bit of money by choosing shared hosting. Shared hosting means that your entire account, including your web page, email and applications is hosted on a server with others’ accounts.

If, however, your web site really starts picking up hits or has a lot of high bandwidth content such as flash applications or streaming content, there is a good chance that the information will not get to the recipient as fast as they are used to or will bog down other clients’ web pages on the shared server.

The upside is that you always can start with a shared server and if you (or the web hosting company) determine you need to move to a dedicated server, the migration process is simple and easy to accomplish.

Want to learn more? Check out all of our great web hosting guides!