Introduction to Server Hosting
Your website needs to be hosted in order to be accessible on the web. Web hosts offer space on a server owned or leased for use by clients, and can provide internet connectivity as well, usually in a data centre.
Choosing the right hosting solution for your website can be a complex process. To make things simpler, we’ve provided a breakdown of three types of hosting solutions that are commonly used; what to look for in a hosting company; and what some of the hosting terminology means.
Find our guide to shared vs dedicated hosting here.
There are generally three options from which people choose when setting up a website:
Cloud and Co-Location Hosting
This involves setting up an account on a server that is shared by lots of other websites. The server’s resources are shared between you and all the other websites using it. Very often there are several hundred sites on one server which may affect your website at peak times. The plus side is that this type of hosting is easy and fast to set up. General costs are anything up to £200.
Virtual Private Server (VPS)
A VPS set up means that a share of server resources are set aside for your website. This removes the potential risk of your website being affected when there are high loads on the server. Users often have the option to install software on the server. General costs are anything between £200 - £600 per year.
This means the entire server and its resources are available solely for your website, removing the problem of high loads affecting you. This option is particularly beneficial if speed and website uptime are a necessity for your business. This is the most expensive option but it will provide you with the best performance. General costs are anything from £600+ per year.
A Breakdown of Hosting Options
Below are some key things to consider when looking at options:
Generally speaking, the more RAM available for your account, the higher the volume of traffic your website will be able to deal with. Page loading times will improve too. It's recommended that you have at least 2GB of RAM if you're hosting a website on a dedicated server or VPS.
Hosting providers will often provide more storage that you will need as it's very cheap nowadays. Generally speaking 2 - 5GB should suffice, unless you're hosting a significant number of videos.
Every time your webpages are viewed, the size of the page (including all the images within it) counts toward your bandwidth usage. For example, a 1Mb page can be downloaded 100 times if you have a 100Mb bandwidth cap. As with storage, it is unusual to find yourself limited by bandwidth restrictions as it has become relatively cheap. As a general rule, you would need about 5 GB of bandwidth if your website was getting about 2,000 visits per month.
How to Choose a Hosting Company
Below are some important things to consider when choosing a provider:
Are they included in the package? Are they automated? They should be copied off-server to mitigate against a disk failing.
It’s important to get managed hosting as this means that you will get better support when you need it, and your server is kept up-to-date.
Does the company give you helpful advice and will you get a timely response to your support tickets?
Size Support can sometimes deteriorate with company size. A large provider may feel like a safe option but you may not be getting the best level of customer service.
The bottom line: you get what you pay for with web hosting. Consider going with a medium-sized company that has a proven record of fast support response times. Make sure that your data is regularly backed up and that you go for a managed account.
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