- What is a domain name?
- Why would I need a domain name?
- Do hosting providers offer domain names?
- What is hosting?
- What kind of hosting is shared hosting?
- What about VPS hosting?
- What kind of hosting is dedicated hosting?
- What exactly is cloud hosting?
- What is reseller hosting?
- What are some of the differences between Linux and Windows hosting?
- How technically proficient do I have to be to use web hosting services?
- Is it possible to move a website from one hosting provider to another?
- How do I pick the best hosting plan?
- What are some essential features in a web hosting provider?
- How do I know how much bandwidth I need?
- Can hosting plans be upgraded?
- What kind of customer support can I expect?
- Do hosting companies offer refunds?
- What will happen to my website if I decide to cancel my hosting plan?
? What is a domain name?
A domain name is part of the web address of your site. It is the first and foremost tool that brings people to your website and it is its first identification tool. Just like people have names that other people call them by, basically. The domain name, however, is not the same as the address or the URL. For example, in the URL www.google.com/help/basics.html, only “google.com” is the domain name and the entire line is the address. Obviously, if you want to start a website, you should pick a catchy, simple, and effective domain name since it is usually the first thing people notice about your website – it’s always good to make a strong impression.
? Why would I need a domain name?
Most hosts offer the possibility to set up a domain name that is actually not your own – it comes with an extension showing the host’s own name. For instance, if the host is WordPress and your website is named Joe, your domain will be www.joe.wordpress.com. This is fine for small, personal blogs, but if you are serious about your website, and especially if you want to use it for business purposes, then you definitely need your own domain name, a custom one, for example, www.joe.com. That is one sure way to appear more serious and professional, plus, it’s catchier and easier to remember.
? Do hosting providers offer domain names?
You can get (buy and register) a domain name without a host, with one of the many companies offering this sort of service. However, if you only get a domain name and nothing else, you will still need hosting services. On the other hand, when you look for hosting services, you will find that most hosting companies offer domain names as part of their plans and packages. This sort of all-in-one service is very popular because it takes care not only of your domain name or your hosting needs but of both these things. Bear in mind, though, that domain names depend on availability, especially those with common suffixes, such as .com or .co.au.
? What is hosting?
Hosting is a vital element of the web because. Literally everything you see online is there thanks to hosting services. When you create a website, you need hosting services in order for it to go live (or go online); otherwise, it will not be visible on the Internet. Hosting companies offer technologies and services that are required for publishing a website online and keeping it there. The websites are hosted, or stored, if you wish, on special computers and computer systems called servers, which are usually owned by hosting companies. So, if you want to have a website on the Internet, you most definitely need hosting services.
? What kind of hosting is shared hosting?
If you opt for shared hosting, your website will be hosted or stored on a server that contains other websites as well. It can be a couple dozen other sites or even thousands of them, depending on both the size and the power of the server, as well as on the hosting company. These websites share the same resources, from storage to RAM and CPU. This type of hosting is ideal for small to medium websites with moderate traffic which do not require a lot of resources and run on standard software. More demanding websites with heavier traffic (such as big company websites, media sites, and so on), however, require other types of hosting, which are also more expensive.
? What about VPS hosting?
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. As its name suggests, this type of hosting allows you to have your private server, but bear in mind that it will only “virtually” be private, not literally. This means that a physical server will be divided into several virtual ones, each assigned as a dedicated server to an individual website. However, all the websites on the physical server will use the same resources, which means that websites hosted this way may experience problems in situations of peak or heavy traffic. The main advantage of VPS hosting is that each website has root access to its own virtual part of the server, which means better control and security.
? What kind of hosting is dedicated hosting?
Dedicated hosting is the most exclusive and the most expensive type of web hosting. The prices of dedicated hosting are generally very high, but there is a good reason for this: with dedicated hosting, you get an entire server, an actual, physical server, just for your website. You have full control and full use of server resources, which makes dedicated hosting ideal for large websites with heavy traffic.
? What exactly is cloud hosting?
While shared and dedicated hosting are related to only one computer (server), cloud hosting involves a group (a “cloud”) of servers that work together as one. Thanks to cloud technology, you can connect an unlimited number of computers to act as one system. Why is this important for web hosting and websites in general? Well, when you have a group of servers acting as one, their overall ability to handle traffic peaks and particularly heavy traffic becomes much higher since the website is supported by much more resources than what you get with just one server. Cloud hosting is more reliable, more secure, more flexible, and more scalable, which is why many big websites opt for this kind of hosting.
? What is reseller hosting?
Reseller hosting is basically a way to earn some money by reselling hosting services. It works like this: one party (the primary hosting company) rents the servers (disk space, bandwidth, and other resources) to another party (usually a smaller business), which then sells it to third parties (small companies, startups or just about anyone looking to put up a website). The second party provides hosting services as if it were an actual hosting company. The user of the services doesn’t care whether it is the first or the second party that is providing the hosting services since there is no difference in their quality or performance.
? What are some of the differences between Linux and Windows hosting?
Linux and Windows are two very different operating systems. While Windows is generally a more popular choice for personal computers, when it comes to hosting, it is actually the other way around. Linux-based servers offer more features and are more adaptable. They are, therefore, more popular among web designers than Windows-based ones, which are usually reserved for websites with specific Windows applications (ASP Classic, ASP.NET, MSSQL, MS Access, C#, and others). Basically, unless you intend to use Windows-specific applications, Linux should be your preferred choice.
? How technically proficient do I have to be to use web hosting services?
These days, you really do not have to be a “tech geek” or an expert to use web hosting services. Of course, some level of technical knowledge may be required, but you definitely do not have to be a professional in the field. This is because most hosting companies use user-friendly control panels and come with plenty of one-click-install apps, which can be used with hardly any difficulty. On top of that, most hosting companies provide extensive tutorials, know-hows, and other resources that should help you in case you get stuck, not to mention there is always customer and technical support.
? Is it possible to move a website from one hosting provider to another?
Yes, absolutely. Most hosting companies allow you to transfer your website in case you are not happy with your current hosting services. The process is not the easiest one in the world and it does involve several important steps, but some hosting companies take care of all that for you; some even do it for free. With those that don’t, you can still handle the migration by yourself, using some of the easy to follow instructions you can find online or even third-party services that can take care of the process for you. In any case, if everything is done properly, your entire website will be transferred and you will be able to continue running it as if nothing happened.
? How do I pick the best hosting plan?
The best way to pick the right plan for your website is to carefully assess your needs – how much disk space and bandwidth you need, how much traffic you expect, whether you need a lot of email addresses, what kind of control panel you can use, whether you need dedicated IPs, how many domains subdomains and parked domains you need, and so on. Next, look for the level of customer support that comes with a certain plan, setup and backup, hosting features that are supported in a particular plan and, optionally, ecommerce features. Of course, you will also consider the price, the money back guarantee, uptime guarantee, renewal and upgrade terms and conditions, and other practical aspects of a plan. Match this to the amount of money you are willing to spend on hosting and you have your answer.
? What are some essential features in a web hosting provider?
When picking a web hosting provider, you should look into some important features that determine the quality of service. These include the amount of bandwidth and disk space, the number of domains and subdomains, site backup, choice of operating system, server uptime, mailboxes, one-click apps, customer and technical support and, of course, the price and payment terms.
? How do I know how much bandwidth I need?
This depends on your website, its scope, and what you intend to use it for, as well as on the amount of traffic you expect to have. You can always upgrade to a plan with more (or unlimited) bandwidth, but you need to start from somewhere, so here are some clues. Most websites don’t actually need that much bandwidth. If you don’t do much streaming and do not host many large media files, your website will probably do okay with up to 10GB per month. Bear in mind, though, that you should always leave some extra room for growth and you should always expect sudden traffic spikes.
? Can hosting plans be upgraded?
As your website grows and the traffic increases, you might need to upgrade to a better plan, one that will support your growing needs better. Fortunately, this can be done very quickly and easily since most hosting companies allow both upgrades and downgrades. The particular steps you will need to make will depend on your type of hosting (shared, dedicated, reseller, cloud, etc.) and on the specific plan you want to upgrade to. In most cases, switching to a better plan is free and you only pay for the difference in price between the two plans.
? What kind of customer support can I expect?
Both the level and the quality of customer support vary from one hosting company to another. Still, in this line of business, it is common for companies to offer 24/7 support through a support ticket, email, phone or chat. The best companies offer all four types of customer support. In addition, there are also extensive tutorials (video, audio, and written ones), FAQs, know-hows, knowledge base, and forums. Some companies work 365 days a year, including holidays, and some only work on weekdays. In addition, some hosting services outsource their customer support while others keep all their staff at the same location as the rest of the company.
? Do hosting companies offer refunds?
Most of them do offer some sort of refund or money back guarantee. However, it is highly recommended to read the Terms & Conditions, including the fine print, before signing up and purchasing a hosting plan in order to avoid unpleasant surprises later on. Most companies offer a risk-free money back guarantee for a certain period, generally ranging from seven to 60 days. You can ask for a full refund of your money if you are not satisfied with the service within this time period.
? What will happen to my website if I decide to cancel my hosting plan?
If you decide you no longer want to use your hosting plan and you proceed with it, all of your websites, all the files, and all the domains will be deleted from the hosting company’s server. This means your website will go offline and it will cease to exist on the Internet.
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