If you’re using a DIY provider – you most likely won’t have to deal with a domain registrar or hosting – as those services will be included in your monthly contract. But, to teach you the proper terminology and use of each part of the online experience – I’ll explain a little about what hosting is, and how it’s used in the whole process.
The definition of ‘hosting’ can be complicated, as there are many different options, features, and perks to separate hosting accounts. Describing each of those factors would take much more time and resources than this book can carry – so I’ll simply explain it in an analogy, and hope that you can catch on…
Hosting is like the piece of ‘land’ your website is built upon.
Relationship to Your Domain/Website
The hosting account is tied to your website, and by relation – tied to your domain. To best describe the relationship between these three pieces, you can think of your website as your ‘house’, your hosting as the ‘land’ the house is on – and the domain as the ‘address’ for your property. When people go to your house, they are using the address as a placeholder – like how your domain name is used as the address to your hosting account. When your visitors come to your property (hosting) – they are presented with everything that is on your land, but are mainly interested in the home itself. Your hosting account, and the website built for entertaining your visitors – is created to automatically display your website first, along with any other features you want to provide for your visitors.
Along with your ‘home’ (website), you can provide customer ‘portals’ (bill pay, plan submissions, secure logins, etc.) that are like other buildings on your property. This analogy still holds up – because if you told your website visitor where your lawnmower is – they wouldn’t immediately go to the front door, but would head in the direction of the garage or shed.
Your hosting account can be divided up into separate sections called ‘subdomains’ – to redirect visitors to specific ‘buildings’ on your property. Separate websites or software can be installed on your hosting account to display specific information for those visitors.
An example of a subdomain would be https://maps.google.com – which shows Google Maps – instead of the main Google domain. They know you want to search a map, and the hosting account is smart enough to bring you to that specific page – instead of the main homepage (https://google.com).
Other features of a hosting account can be a bandwidth limit, which caps the amount of data that can be stored and recalled for all your websites, portals, etc. for a hosting account. In the past, this limit denied website creators from building big, expansive websites – in favor of two or three pages online. In recent years, this limit has stretched up to ‘unlimited’ – which means that the average website doesn’t reach what would cause the server (which holds your hosting account) from being overloaded.
Storage was also (and can still be) an issue with hosting providers in the past – but has also increased to ‘unlimited’ values in some cases. There shouldn’t be any reason (as of the time of this writing) to need more than 5 gigabytes of storage for your small business website. This would allow a LOT of images, text, background pictures, and even videos on your website – all within what is allowed by your hosting provider.
The most important feature that you should keep in mind – is the amount of RAM (random access memory – but easier to remember as ‘short term memory’ for quick decisions) available to your hosting account. Too little (less than 1GB) – and you could have a website that struggles to load quickly. If your website features large images, you should look at a hosting account with at least 2 gigabytes of dedicated RAM – which will allow your hosting account to be nimble enough to load quickly, and get your website loaded before your potential customer has a change of heart, and decides to go to check out your competitor’s websites.
Hosting providers are available all over the internet, each saying they have better services than the next, but in my experience, there are three very good hosting providers that have stood the test of time, and if you don’t like the pricing available from these sources, you are free to choose the provider you like better! Just do a search in google for ‘hosting provider.’
Website Hosting Provider Examples
These three providers have reasonable pricing, great customer support – and are willing to help you get started, without trying to get you to purchase more than you need to get your business rolling.
Each hosting company has a different method of setting up their service, so I won’t go into depth in this book – but I will cover some of the basics (that should translate, albeit very roughly) of all web hosting providers’ setup process.
When you purchase a hosting account – you will be given the option to set it up with popular software, which can be a choice that is both difficult and very easy. The sheer number of software providers who aim to cure the world of ‘difficult web development’ is overwhelming to say the least. There is rarely a month that goes by without another player in the game, but overall – most non-techy people have migrated over to one of the options.