Choosing a hosting provider for your website is relatively easy to do with so many options available but what happens when your website goes down? When will it be back online? Do you have a backup? Who do you call?
1. What Is Website Hosting?
Website hosting refers to the space on a server where your website files and images are stored. These servers can be located anywhere in the world and are accessed through the internet by entering a domain name. Website hosting is purchased from a hosting provider and is typically renewed every year.
2. Domain Name, IP address, and DNS
A website domain is the name that you have chosen for your website (www.mywebsite.com). Domains are purchased separately from your web hosting and must be registered by a domain registrar. There are many domain registrars available but some of the more common ones are companies like GoDaddy, Bluehost, Namecheap, or Hover.
An IP address is the address to your server. Once your website files and images have successfully been uploaded to your hosting server, your domain is then pointed to the IP address so that your site can be accessed online.
How does your domain know where to point? We add a DNS record. Wait…what??
DNS records could be a whole new blog post but in short, they are a list of rules that tell your domain what to do. These records are attached to your domain and direct things like mail, website traffic, and subdomains (an additional part to your main domain name, created to organize and navigate to different sections of your site). A new DNS record gets added that says, “Hey Domain, you need to load this website at this IP address!”
Clear as mud?
3. SSL Certificates
An SSL certificate is installed on the hosting server to provide a more secure connection between your website and its users. Websites with an SSL certificate are easily identified with the use of https:// instead of http:// in the URL.
SSL certificates are required. In July of 2018, Google started to display all non-https websites as ”not secure”. While Google has not yet confirmed their tactics, it has been suggested that websites without a valid SSL certificate may start to lose their positions in search rankings if they don’t comply.
4. Hosting Requirements That You Should Consider When Selecting A Plan
Data Storage: The amount of space that is available for your website files, images, videos, etc. Most hosting plans will offer unlimited data storage (or disc space) so this is not usually a concern for websites of the average size. For larger websites, you may need to look at the disc space more seriously.
Bandwidth: The amount of data that the host can send from your website to your visitors on a monthly basis. Like data storage it’s common for providers to offer unlimited bandwidth but if your bandwidth is restricted, you may see additional charges if your limit is exceeded.
Uptime: Refers to the amount of time that your website is guaranteed to be online. As with any technology, occasional problems can occur on your server. Most web hosts guarantee an uptime rate of 99.9% meaning that 99.9% of the time, your website will be accessible.
Security: Most website hosting plans do not include a security monitoring service. While their servers ARE secure, some websites are not. If your website is built using an open source CMS such as WordPress or Shopify and requires ongoing updates, you may be at risk for website hacks or malware injections. It’s a good idea to ask your host about additional security monitoring to prevent these kinds of vulnerabilities.
Backups: Website backups are important. We can not stress this enough! Backups can be done manually but we recommend setting up automatic backups with your host so that you always have a recent restore point.
The cloud-based email service that is offered by your hosting provider will do the trick, however, it’s more expensive compared to the more popular services like Google or Windows 365 and it doesn’t scale well for a growing business. For a small business with one or two employees, it will likely provide everything you need but if you have multiple employees or if you utilize general inboxes such as [email protected] or [email protected] you’ll want to invest in a more robust service.
Reaction offers a hosting management service (HMS) with technical support for things like website setup, downtime, security monitoring, backups, and ongoing updates. Now that you understand what hosting is, the important question facing you is, “who should manage it?” Your job is running your business, our job is making sure that your website is working to help you do that.