What is Web Hosting? A Beginners Guide for 2023
In our previous guide, we looked at how to get started with domain names, and the important points to keep in mind before making a purchase.
In this next instalment, we turn our attention to web hosting. This is the second piece of the website puzzle and is much simpler than it first appears…
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is a very easy concept for a newcomer to understand. Unfortunately many hosting companies often assume the buyer already has some background knowledge, but that’s often not the case. Which can lead to some confusion and a feeling of being overwhelmed with the tech talk and options.
In a nutshell, website hosting describes the place where your website lives. If you built a website on your home computer and wanted people across the internet to be able to access it from there – then you would need to leave it switched on and connected to the internet 24 hours a day, so that it could be accessed on demand.
Obviously, this isn’t a realistic or convenient proposition. It’s also where web hosting comes into play.
When you purchase website hosting, you are effectively renting a small portion of disk space on a hosting company’s computer hard drive (server). That computer sits in a server storage facility somewhere, and remains permanently accessible to anyone visiting your site.
This may be an overly simple view of things, but the basic idea is sound. It’s the way the internet runs – terabytes of disk space all connected together and running 24 hours a day on web servers around the globe.
Stick With a Mainstream Provider
All of the popular companies that sell domain names (GoDaddy, Namecheap and 123 Reg) also sell hosting packages.
You certainly don’t have to buy hosting from the same company that you used to register your domain, but if you’re planning on a DIY website then it’s often a simpler route to take.
Website creation has matured massively in recent years, and what used to be a complicated affair is now often a “one click” process. Provided that you have all your assets in the same place. Indeed, many of the big name web hosting and domain registration companies will offer free tools to install WordPress or a similar blogging platform, directly onto your hosting account with them, with just one or two button clicks.
A Word on Pricing: So Many Options!
As a beginner looking at web domains and hosting, it’s really important to keep things simple and affordable.
Higher prices won’t really give you a better experience when you’re just starting out. Paying more for the top tier web hosting packages isn’t necessary.
With the extra spend, you’re usually getting increased disk space for very large websites and faster computer processing to cater for high traffic. You simply don’t need those things as a beginner, and you can always upgrade in the future to cope with demand.
Basic hosting shouldn’t cost more than $30-50 during year one (many companies have special offers). Year two onwards could see the price rising to $50-$70. Check the small print and be sure you know what the second year or renewal fee is going forwards.
Alternatives to Traditional Hosting
If you’re looking to create a simple business or personal website, you might find more user friendly options than traditional hosting. Services like Squarespace offer turnkey websites with drag-and-drop builders. No coding or complex setup required, and the hosting is built into the price of the package.
If you feel like those sorts of services might get a little restrictive in the future, then try looking for “Wordpress Hosting” from one of the big providers.
WordPress is a powerful website builder and content management system. It’s easy to use, powers much of the modern internet, and comes pre-installed on many hosting packages.
If you’re looking specifically to build and host an eCommerce website, then we’d recommend one of two options. Either start our with a WordPress site, using the ‘WooCommerce’ shop building plugin, or go straight to Shopify – the world’s best eCommerce web shop builder.
Many eCommerce sites start out as small shops built on free tools like WordPress and WooCommerce (the leading shop plugin for WordPress), and then graduate onto a paid, high performance eCommerce platform like Shopify. With Shopify, you can quickly build and maintain professional level online stores, with the highest quality front end, themes, payment processing, vouchers and gift cards, and much more.
For more on Shopify’s eCommerce options, visit Shopify direct. Or, if you’re still not convinced and want to read some independent reviews, be sure to check out our Shopify reviews here.
So there you have it! Hosting and setting up your site isn’t the daunting prospect it once was. There are many options and price points and setting up is easier than ever.
Our top picks for WordPress hosting are below:
Where to next?
Now that you’ve read up about Web Hosting, why not educate yourself on Domain Names with our beginner’s guide What is a Web Domain? – A Beginners Overview