You’ve decided that you either need a website, or it’s time to rebuild the one you already have. In either case, one of the first things you should consider is your hosting company. If you haven’t built your website yet, hosting is the first thing you’ll need to take care of. If you have a website already this is the best time to consider switching hosting companies, or at least researching what’s available today.
Without a hosting company, you will have no place for the website files to be located. On that same note without a domain name your website will not have an address on the internet. In this article, you’ll learn:
- The difference between hosting and domains
- What the average price for hosting should be
- What makes a good hosting company
- How to choose a good domain name
- The importance of customer support in hosting
- Why SSL matters and how you can get it for free
As a web design company we are always happy to help you set up your hosting account and/or choose a domain name for your website. If you need assistance, please call us right away at 541-419-3206.
The Difference Between Hosting and a Domain
The very first step in building your website is choosing a domain and your hosting company. They are two completely separate things, so let’s take a look at what they are.
If you think of the internet as a giant filing cabinet, you’ll have a good understanding of how hosting on the internet works. Every website you see on the internet is really a set of files that were created to display the content you see everyday. Your hosting provider is essentially renting you file space on a server that will be read by browsers to display your website. Your domain is the actual address where those files will be located.
You can’t have a website without both hosting and a domain. If you just have a domain and no files, nothing would be seen. Vice versa, if you have hosting without a domain, you’d have a bunch of files and no place to actually view them. Now, technically, there are ways to see files on a server without a domain, but it’s super geeky and too technical for this article.
Before we take a look at what to look for in a hosting company, let’s talk about the cost of hosting and domains.
What is the Average Price for Hosting Services?
The first and most important thing you need to know about hosting pricing is that almost every offer you see on a web hosting company website is for the first year only. For instance, you’ll see an offer for $6.99 per month, however if you read the fine print you’ll see that the pricing after your first year will be $12.99 per mor something around that. Nearly every web hosting service does it.
The average price per month after your first year is anywhere from $9.99 to $19.99 per month. If it’s less than that, it’s probably not a very good hosting company and if it’s more than that (for a shared wordpress hosting plan) you’re getting ripped off.
You can’t talk about hosting pricing without discussing the different types of hosting. You also need to discuss the hosting packages that come along with them. There are several different types of hosting, the most common two being shared hosting and dedicated server hosting.
Shared hosting means you’ll be sharing a server with someone else, you’ll never know who that is and it really doesn’t matter. Dedicated hosting is much, much more expensive, but you’ll get your own server so if you have a very large website, or you’ll have many different websites, you may have to consider this option.
Most hosting companies have different hosting packages that usually revolve around space and the amount of websites you can have. Depending on the size of your website and the amount of websites you’ll be hosting you’ll need to choose these packages accordingly.
What is the Average Price of a Domain?
That brings us to domains. Domain pricing is almost always $12.99 – $14.99 per year per domain if that domain is available. If the domain is not available, but is for sale, you could end up paying anywhere from $1000 – $2500 depending on the company selling it. When that happens, it’s usually just best to come up with a different variation of the domain name. You can also change the suffice from .com to .org or .co or any number of different suffixes.
When you choose your domain name, try to include keywords that describe what your business does. You should also try to keep it short and sweet so it’s easy to type into a browser’s address window. Choosing the right domain name is important for SEO as well as your customer experience. If you’re unsure and having trouble, give us a call, we’ll be happy to help.
Now that you know more about web hosting and domain pricing, it’s time to talk about what web hosting companies offer, what’s important and what’s not important about the services offered.
What Makes a Good Hosting Company
You’ll find that most hosting companies offer the exact same services. They all have what’s called a “C Panel” where you’ll access most of the tools you’ll need when working with your server. You’ll have a file manager where, as you can probably guess, you’ll find all of your files. You’ll have access to your email addresses and with most companies you can have as many as you want.
Developers will have access to the SQL database and PHP admin if they need access to that. You’ll probably be more comfortable hiring someone who knows there way around a C Panel rather than doing it yourself. There are mistakes you can make here so it’s usually best to let someone who knows what they’re doing use these tools.
So, what makes a hosting company “good”, since most companies offer the same Cpanel? To answer that question we need to talk about things like “server uptime” and server speed. “Server uptime” is a term used to measure how much time a server remains working, and if it goes down for awhile or stops working altogether. The only way to really know this before hand is to research some reviews of the company and see what people say.
Server speed is used to measure how fast a server will render the files on it to the browser window. There are many, many factors that determine how quickly or slowly a page loads in a browser. Server speed is one of them and again, the best way to find this out is research what other people say about the company through reviews.
There are also several sites that will measure your server speed but only after the website is up and running. This is an effective tool for measuring, but not before you make the purchase.
Customer Service is Essential for a Good Hosting Company
We’ll also need to discuss customer service. There are a lot of questions you should be asking here. Are you able to get an English speaking person on the phone if needed? Is someone available to help via chat when needed? When you do get a hold of someone, are they knowledgeable about the hosting or just an answering service?
Some of the best website customer service I’ve experienced at a hosting company is through Siteground Hosting. They are hands down the most knowledgeable and fastest customer support I have ever worked with. If I had to choose the worst customer service I’ve worked with it would be Godaddy. These are my opinions, of course, and I would highly recommend that you go out and research other reviews of these companies before taking my word for it.
One of the other key factors in choosing a hosting company is the SSL certificate. AnSSL certificate is what tells the browser that you have a safe and secure website. It gives you a little lock icon in the browser window when it’s working. They browser may also warn visitors that it’s not secure if you don’t have one.
Several companies give you a free SSL certificate through a program called Let’s Encrypt. It’s simple to use and it’s free. However there are also companies out there, Godaddy to name one, that charge you hundreds of dollars per year for an SSL certificate. You don’t need to pay for it since they both, paid for or free, achieve the same result.
So Which Hosting Company Should I Choose?
You’re wondering know which company should you choose? There are so many variables and options that it can be difficult to know who’s the best for your business. I can give you my recommendations here, and I will, but you should do your own due diligence and check out the reviews of each company. Just google something like, “Hosting Company Reviews”, and read through a few pages to get a feel for the general audience perspective.
My recommendation is always, hands down, Siteground Hosting. I work on dozens of our clients websites using their hosting and have always been very happy with them. Their customer service is top notch, in ten plus years I’ve never had websites go down and only had a few cases of virus infected websites, which wasn’t even their fault.
A few other notable hosting companies are Blue Host, Host Gator and Lightningbase. I’ve worked on all of these servers and found them to be very good. Again, you’ll need to do your own research on reviews and see what others have to say about them, but those are my picks.
If you have any other questions or need help with your hosting or domain in any way, please call us today at 541-419-3206. We’re knowledgeable and happy to help.