To launch a website on the internet, one needs the services of a web host. No matter what kind of website one has, no matter how simple or complicated the site is, it needs to be hosted by a web host provider for it to be displayed on the World Wide Web.
Websites are stored in a server, a specialized computer that other computers can access through a browser’s specific request. Web pages on a server can be seen by just about anyone around the world. However, not everyone has the resources to create their server and publish their website or a page by themselves. Theoretically, one can use one’s own computer as a server, but this is quite impractical and not feasible since home-based Internet connection simply doesn’t have the capacity to serve multiple users at once.
Web hosting agencies provide the right technology and services for websites to be displayed on the internet. Obviously, in order for the web host to hold a website, one needs to pay a certain amount for the hosting charge. The cost of hosting services depends largely on the type of web hosting one chooses but, generally, the owner of the site will have to pay for the hosting per month.
Web Hosting vs. Domain Name
Some people are under the misguided assumption that simply registering a domain name is the same as already paying for a website. A domain name, for those who aren’t aware, is the web address that directs a person to a specific website. Each domain name is unique. No two separate websites can share the same domain name since the name is how web browsers can find the exact server to reach the website.
Registering for a domain is usually the first step in building a website. One registers for a domain name on a registration company known as a Registrar. These Registrars reserve domain names, protecting the registrant’s chosen name from being taken by other entities.
Some web host providers offer domain names together with the web hosting account, but it’s typically more expensive than signing up on a separate provider for domain names.
Web hosting is more on the space one rents on the internet to store one’s website files. While one can design and build a website on a personal computer but without being uploaded on a hosting server, no one can access it but the owner.
Generally, those who create a website to promote a service, profit from their own blog, sell their products online, or even just display their portfolio are the ones that need a web host
Three Reasons Why Web Hosting is the Best Option
Unless one uses a reliable web hosting provider, there’s always a high probability of security risks of the website. One of the services web hosts provides is taking care of the backend concerns which includes the overall security of the site.
These days, one can never be too careful when it comes to protecting one’s data. Many big name websites have reported having suffered security breaches, risking the users’ information and data. Without a proper web host to handle the first line of defense, a website can be easily hacked into.
Web hosting allows the site owner to choose the security plugins, the content management systems, and other additional measures to ensure top-level security. They also offer customer support, so whenever an issue arises, the owner can contact the web host provider and fix the problem.
For those using a free website hosting platforms such as Blogger, the main disadvantage is always the very limited control one has of one’s site. The user is required to agree to the platform’s terms and conditions which can be quite restrictive depending on the site. Even if the user manages to make a profit from their website, there’s still the risk of one day losing it all. Worst case scenario, the user’s site is deleted and the individual blocked from the website due to violating the platform’s rules. People can contact the site’s administration for an appeal, but this could take a lot of time since the platform likely handles thousands of cases per day.
If one uses a web host, on the other hand, one has almost complete control of the website. The user will be free to move about their site without worry of breaking a rule or condition. Unless one fails to pay for the hosting charge, one’s website will be kept online with no chances of being taken down by the higher authorities.
For websites that deal with e-commerce, getting a web host is an ideal option. Not only will the owner be assured that their website (and business) will stay online, they won’t have to split the profits with the platform. Those that have a substantial following should also seriously consider using a web host instead of staying on a blogging platform for better opportunities.
Lastly, owners can design and customize their site when they use a web host. With the free hosting platform, users can only use a selection of web templates with very limited plugins and tools. As a result, one’s website might not look as decent as one would like or be able to perform services that the user needs.
Moreover, with a web host, companies and small businesses will be able to maintain their branding much more accurately than with a free hosting platform. Businesses with a website tied to a free platform don’t exude professionalism either. In fact, visitors will be more than likely suspicious of the legitimacy of the site. A web host – and a domain name – will make the website more credible and trustworthy.
Features To Expect from a Web Host
Besides paying for server space to host one’s website, a web host provider also offers these extra features:
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Access
FTP is the transferring of files between different computers. It is the method of sending and receiving files on the internet. Obviously, a web host allows the website owner use of the FTP so the owner can upload their files to their respective server.
When one utilizes a web host, it’s understood that one also has a domain name. The web hosting company actually offers the owner email account features so the one can create domain email accounts. The email account would look like this: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is quite beneficial for website owners especially to appear credible to whoever they contact through email.
Content Management System (CMS)
Websites need a CMS to organize its content. Web hosts will usually inform you if their plans are compatible with WordPress, a popular and powerful CMS. A quarter of the websites on the internet are actually powered by WordPress, that’s why most web hosting companies make sure that their plans are compatible with that CMS.
Extra Features and Apps
Since the competition online is incredibly tight, websites do whatever they can to stand out from other similar sites. Hosting services offer additional features that increase visitor interaction. To name a few:
Online forums (where visitors can post and comment on topics related to the website’s service or products)
Shopping carts (for e-commerce websites)
Comprehensive databases (typically containing details of the products offered on the site so that readers can easily compare the products)
Forms for users to fill in (such as for suggestions and recommendations)
Comment section (to encourage readers to share their thoughts and opinions on a piece. this is especially useful for content-heavy websites)
What to Look Out for in Web Hosting Companies
Finally, like with most things, web hosting also has its pitfalls that one needs to be aware of.
As mentioned earlier, some hosting companies will register the website’s domain name for the owner. While this is easier for the owner, this could pose a few problems in the future. Since it’s the web host that registered the name, legally, they are the owners of the domain name, not the website owner. However, this can be easily remedied by the owner by registering the domain name themselves instead of relying on the company.
It can’t be denied that there are a lot of unethical businesses online and it can sometimes be quite difficult discerning the good from the bad. For instance, some hosting companies will actively hide certain extra charges (bandwidth, VAT, even setup costs) and the owner will only be aware of them once they get the monthly bill. Some of these charges may be small but, when they are added up, they can turn out a substantial amount that the owner will have no choice but to pay. Website owners must read the hosting company’s terms very thoroughly to avoid these hidden charges.
Lack of Support
Customer support is how one can really tell how much the hosting company cares for their clients. While all companies are obligated to offer technical support, some are better at providing it than others. Website owners need to make sure that the web host company of their choice can respond to customers quickly and efficiently.