Web hosting is simply a computer that allows users to download or serves your website files to a user. It often has bundled software to enable sending and receipt of emails. This is simple and, in theory, you could setup your home computer so it hosts a website but that’s a very bad idea for many reasons relating to security of your personal and user data, plus practical issues relating to the speed of a website displaying to visitors.
Selecting a professional web hosting company is then an important business decision for as they can provide the following as standard:
- Redundant backup power supplies – The power supplies at most web hosts are almost always backed up by on-site generators that keep websites running even if extreme power outages.
- Ultra-Fast, stable connections – Web hosts have extremely fast upload speeds and can serve hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of concurrent visitors easily.
- Static IP address – With a web host, you can have a dedicated IP that will never change. This means your address always stays the same and people can always find your site.
- Expert team maintaining hardware – The experts at these web hosts constantly maintain the hardware and have replacement parts on hand. They also have redundant hardware and backup your files for you.
Web hosting selection advice
There are three main types of hosting available:
- Shared Hosting
- VPS Hosting
- Dedicated Hosting
One of these should be sufficient for any size of website you are interested in hosting. Usually, it will be pretty clear to you which one you will need. We’ll cover examples of the types of sites that use all three.
Shared hosting is the cheapest an most common option for small businesses, individuals and even some popular websites. Shared hosting is many websites hosting on a single server (remember server just means computer) which means that we can provide a very cost-effective solution with prices starting at £36 a year. Even though it’s the cheapest option shared hosting it can handle up to 300 visitors a day, which covers most websites. If you are just getting started with hosting, you should take a close look at shared hosting for its value and performance.
VPS stands for virtual private server. This is like shared hosting, but your website shares the resources of a much more powerful computer so your website can handle more visitors and we can cater for more specialist configurations if there are particular requirements.
The advantage of VPS hosting is you can scale from small to large websites without having to switch servers. Also, with a VPS you have a huge number of options as far as software and hardware.
VPS hosting is good for growing businesses that need high performance and security. For example a 1 second delay on an e-commerce website can reduce sales by 7% – see How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line
Prices for our VPS hosting starts at £25 a month for a server with 50 GB of diskspace and Control Panel.
Dedicated hosting consists of a single server that hosts a single website. The advantage of having a dedicated server is that the entire computer is focused on giving your website the best possible performance. While dedicated hosting can be somewhat expensive, it is worth the price if your website demands very fast page-load times, a dedicated IP and has a lot of traffic, like upwards of 100,000 visitors a month.
Although most of our hosting uses the open source operating system Linux we can provide Windows Server hosting – see our web hosting page for more detailed information. Also visit this website for further reading: Hosting advice.