What type of web host do you need?

shared-server

So you have decided to build a website – that is great news! Hopefully you know what it will be about and have a good plan for design. Next you need to think about what kind of web host you want.

Who knew there were so many things to consider?! First, you need to know what a web host is. It is defined as a company that stores your files on its servers. Next, you need to figure out what exactly you need from them. Here are some options to consider:

shared-server

Shared servers: these are often cheaper than dedicated servers (more on this below), but it does mean that your resources are being shared by more than one site. This can lead to some problems if another owner’s site suddenly changes their site and needs more of those resources for themselves, as it will take away storage availability from your own website. This could have an effect on the performance of the domain, and users might complain of slow connections or even web pages not loading at all.

dedicatedServer

Dedicated servers: these are servers that, unsurprisingly given the name, are dedicated to your website. This eliminates the risk of shared resources being used up by another so you can be more confident in your domain’s consistent performance. However, these are more expensive so you need to weigh up whether it is worth it.

servermigrate

Virtual servers: these are somewhere in-between – they are technically shared servers but they have a dedicated space for your site so the shared resource issues are no longer, well… issues.

Other things that will have a big impact on your final decision are:

Support: does the host provide technical support in case of any problems? Is it 24/7 or office hours? Often you will pay more for good, available support but there is nothing worse than your website going down with no way to fix it before morning comes.

linuxwindows

Linux vs. Windows Servers: believe it or not, like anything else servers require operating systems to run. Linux-based servers are generally more affordable and popular with smaller to mid-size companies. One thing to consider is the functionality of any in-site apps: do they need Microsoft software to run? If so, you should look towards a Windows-based server in order to eliminate the risk of any malfunctions. Windows-based servers are definitely more expensive but worth it if you are using any kind of integration with Windows apps.

Once you have answered these questions, you will be in a much better place to research specific web hosts and see whether they will fulfil your needs or not. Check out our next post on the top web hosts to use, and why for more information.

What Are Content Management Systems?

cms

If you create a web site, you have two choices.

One, learn HTML and code the site yourself.

Two, take advantage of the many content management options available that will help with much of the heavy lifting when it comes to building a site.

CMSesLogosImageMap

Basically, a content management system will allow you to craft a functional and attractive web site or blog by making choices using the system’s user interface, without writing a single line of Web code. You can select from numerous layout, appearance and font options, and can add special features like news feeds, blogs, comment screens and galleries.

Many web or blog hosting services will include a content management system as part of the deal. Some sites, like blogger.com from Google, are free, while others charge for hosting and data storage. While the free sites tend to be more limited in what you can do, most can produce a good looking end product.

With some sites, the content management system must be used in order to create the site.

Other hosting sites will offer a Content Management component that you can use to create your web site, but give you the option to code all or part of your site using one or more of the mainline web programming languages.

CMS-Collage2

What can Content Management Systems do?

Elements that any good Content Management system should do include:

  • Multiple Page Structure: You should be able to include things like home pages, content pages and about us pages.
  • Multiple Navigation Options: You should be able to select from a variety of navigation control options that allow your visitors to move about your site using a consistent set of controls that blend well with your basic page structure.
  • Themes: By selecting a theme for your pages, you guarantee a unified look and feel for the site. Colors, fonts, and general layout are all determined by the theme you select, and you should also be able to change the theme at any time.
    Most free or low cost systems only allow you to select from their built in themes, but some will allow you to use third party themes as well.
  • Plugins or Add-Ons: These are little coding fragments that can be added into your system. Some deliver a specific function where they are placed, such as a gallery or video display. Others add functionality to the whole site, such as enhanced performance or statistical analysis.
    Not all systems allow plugins or add-ons.
  • Specialized pages, controls and features: Here are a few items that a good content management system should allow you to add to your web site:
  • Blogs: Even if your system is not specifically intended for creating blogs, it should have a way to add a blog somewhere in your site.
  • News Feeds: This feature is similar to blogging and can display or link to news articles about your site which you generate, or related news articles from other sites which you subscribe to.
  • Comments and Question: You should be able to capture comments and questions from your visitors, either as emails sent to your account, or stored in a data base associated with your site. You should also be able to display some or all of these notes on your site for other visitors to see.

Selecting a Web Hosting Site

Select-Best-Web-Hosting

If you have decided to create a web site, there are still many decisions yet to be made, and at the top of the list is selecting a host site.

A host site, or server, is a computer somewhere on the internet that will contain all of the files and programs necessary to present your web site to the world. While, in theory, you could host the web site yourself, this requires a lot of equipment, software and expertise and will most likely cost more in the end than working with a commercial hosting service. Especially since many of those services are free.

Domain names and internet concept

Domain Names

To use many hosting sites, you will need to have a domain name in place. A domain name is a unique web name, like ‘mysupersite456.com’, which will take a person directly to your web site, wherever it is hosted. It is an easy way for people to find you on the web and allows you to brand your web site and its content. There is a fee associated with creating your domain, which must be renewed, usually on an annual basis. Depending on where you registered your domain, there may be additional charges if you change the address of the web server it will be pointing to.

Web Hosting Services:

At its most basic, a web hosting service provides space on an Internet enabled computer for you to put your web site. The service will handle the job of processing page requests from the internet, assembling and delivering the code required for displaying your pages on the end user’s browsers. They may provide additional products and services, which will be discussed below.

Things that a good hosting service should provide include:

  • Good Uptime: A good web hosting service should not go down often, and should have redundant systems in place to insure Uptime.
  • Backups: Your content should be automatically backed up on the server on a regular basis.
  • Capacity: The service needs to provide sufficient disc space for your content and data files, and adequate Internet bandwidth to handle your expected traffic. Typically increased capacity costs more.
  • Data Base: Most commercial hosting sites will provide you with a data base service to store information pertaining to things like clients, products, and orders.

 

Free Self Service Sites: Sites like Google’s blogger.com allow you to create and maintain a fully functional blog or web site using their built in setup program, which has a variety of themes and designs to choose from. These sites are often free or low cost and are a good way to produce the first web site for personal use or for a small business.

  • Pro: Low entry cost and does not require learning web coding or hiring programmers. They can be monetized using advertising and links to sales sites like Amazon.com
  • Con: You are often limited to what the site setup can do for you, and your capacity will also be limited as well, especially for the free services. Also, the URL to get to your site usually references the service, which advertises that you did not create this site yourself. This is not as big an issue with informational blogs and web sites but may be a stigma for businesses.

 

Commercial Hosting Sites: These sites are better suited for high volume commercial sites where traffic and data storage is usually high. Things you should look for include:

  • Graduated levels of disc storage and web traffic.
  • Support for one or more web hosting languages like PHP, Java, or Python
  • Support for one or more content management systems such as Drupal or WordPress

Top 5 things you’ll want from your Web Hosting Service

web-hosting-banner

So it’s all done and dusted. You’ve created your website, either from scratch or using a template (we’re not judging) but now you want it up and running. Thanks to the internet, you have an almost unlimited variety of choice when it comes to choosing a web hosting service, so which one should you choose? We don’t know. Sorry. But here is a checklist of things to make sure your provider…provides, I guess.

5. Unlimited mailboxes

mail_imag

We’re going to run with the notion that your site is for your business, but you’ll still want this if you’re just working on a project. Having a site, means that you can create email addresses for you and all your employees, which include the name of your business. Some web hosting services, however, limit the number of email addresses you are allowed to make. This, if you think about it, limits you greatly, especially if you are looking to grow your business. So, when choosing your host, make sure that they offer you unlimited mailboxes.

4. Site Back-up

5-Free-Backup-Solutions-For-WordPress

It’s very important that your web host completes site back-ups on a regular basis in case the worst happens. It’s a just in case. Hackers are weird people and you might log in one day and your entire database has been completely nuked. If your host provides back-ups, you should be able to restore your full site with little more than a click

3. Site Stats

SiteStats_html_m18620a31

This one is a little self-explanatory. Your web host should, without a doubt, be able to give you live stats on your website’s performance and hits. It should be able to tell you things like your click-through rate, if you have ads on other sites, as well as the strength of the server you’re running on. This will give you important information on how your site is doing, as well as being able to prevent server overload, which will lead your site to crash.

2. Refund Policy

refund

Everyone wants your money. Don’t forget that! Everyone wants your money and will step over their grandmother to get it. You’re going to want to be on the lookout for your web host’s refund policy. This includes whether or not you can choose to cancel within the trial period and still get your money back. Are there cancellation fees? Do they pull you into a longer contract than you want, without a money-back-guarantee?

1. 24/7 Technical Support

it-support-services2

What you’ll want, more than anything else, is a hosting service that is always there for you. Chances are, you’re paying them good money to maintain your site’s online presence, so you want to be sure that if worst comes to worst, they will be there to hold your hand all the way through. The best of them, provide things like helpful tutorial videos to fix common issue that may occur with your site, while at the same time, offering you a 24/7 tech support hotline that you can call, preferably toll free!

The top 5 web hosts

Website-Hosting-Tips

Setting up a website is seriously exciting business. Whether it is personal, or for business purposes, it feels so good to take control and take that step towards becoming an online entity. Choosing your web host will be one of the most important things that you do when it comes to your website; you need to make sure your website functions properly, including any interactive apps, displays as it should, and connects and loads fast. All without breaking the bank.

We have put together a list of the top five web hosts to consider, so you’re not alone in making this decision.

DreamHost

dreamhost

This is always topping the ‘best web hosts’ lists, and for a good reason. It offers both shared and dedicated plans (see our previous post for more on which one suits your needs) for affordable prices. You are looking at monthly costs of as little as $8.95/month for shared, and obviously a little more if you wanted to take the dedicated approach. DreamHost also has some awesome add-ons, and one-click features so you can easily manage your blogs, images and design. You can get unlimited email accounts on most of the packages, unlimited bandwidth, and so much more. They are affordable, but unlike most cost-effective companies, they don’t scrimp on the extra value stuff to make it up. This is the real deal.

Hostgator

hostgator1

This host is particularly good at drawing in new customers with sweet deals and free stuff – and it is totally acceptable to take advantage of this! You can get unlimited bandwidth, disk space, email accounts and more with their new user accounts. Their cheapest plan is under $4 per month, and still has a lot of the one-click installs and other features of the higher-cost ones. Discounts are also offered for longer-term agreements, so this is worth bearing in ind if budget is your top priority.

Bluehost

bluehost

With similar benefits to those above – unlimited emails, file transfers, bandwidth and disk space – Bluehost starts at just $4.95 per month. Even their most basic packages offer features that can make a huge different to your website, such as e-commerce add-ons, databases, one-click add-ons and more. Again, they offer both shared and dedicated servers.

SiteGround-WebHosting

Siteground

These guys offer a ton of features which means it is really easy to tailor your package to suit your every need. They have really great blog management, 24/7 technical support and their customer ratings from an experience point of view are off the chain (that’s a good thing); some have even said they notice your problems before you do, and are already fixing them when you call in. Plans start at $3.95 per month.

A Small Orange

Despite their cutesy name, these guys mean serious business. Their focus has always been, and remains, on customer experience and providing a top service. Where most hosts nowadays are throwing free stuff at you and shouting about scalability, A Small Orang remains true to what it is excellent at; making customers happy. They offer a variety of plans from just under $3/month and can tailor your disk space and bandwidth accordingly – although choosing unlimited isn’t an option for all of their plans like it for the other hosts.

Hopefully you found this helpful, and can do a bit more research into this to find your perfect host. It is definitely worth investing the time now in order to make sure you have the support you need later on. We can’t wait to see your site!

The Basics of Web Hosting

blog_web_hosting_provider_fit_1140_945_0_0_0_90___303

It is a rare individual in this decade who has not spent a fair amount of their lives in the online world of websites. But even though you can surf the web, if you are considering creating or improving a website for yourself or your company or organization, there are a few things that you need to know before you begin.

how website works

Internet 101- How web sites work

A web site is a series of files and/or programs that reside on a web enabled computer (called a host server) located somewhere on the internet. When you type in a web address or click on a link, your browser finds the host server on the web and requests a page to display. The host server assembles the code for the page and sends it to your browser, which in turn interprets the code and uses it to create the page for you to see.

 

The page you are looking for could be a found in a single file containing all of the information for displaying web page, or the code for the requested page could be created by a program running on the host server based on information supplied to it by your browser.

 

Static vs Interactive pages:

This may be obvious to some people but knowing the difference could save you a lot of work and expense when it comes to selecting a web hosting platform and creating your page.

  • Static: This is a web page that contains only standard web page controls and does not require any information from your browser to display the page. Static pages may contain links to other pages and elements like news feeds which show information that changes periodically. Home pages and About Us pages are often static.
  • Interactive: This is a web page that changes its format and/or content based on information sent to it by your browser. This could be things like a user name, a product code, or a date range. For example, on line ordering sites are use this kind of page to process your order.

 custom-web-design-chester-jan

Custom Web Site vs Web Content Managers:

Creating web sites requires a fair amount of skill, even for a simple site. And if you are creating a site where the content changes frequently, like a blog or news site, or you are going to use your site to sell products or services, this becomes even more of a challenge.

You basically have 2 options:

  • Custom Web Site: This is a site where the page code and supporting programs and data bases are created by you or a contractor based on what you want your site to do. This can be expensive and time consuming but does allow you to build a site that looks, feels, and acts exactly as you want it to. It also allows you to add functions that may not be available in content management systems.
  • Content Management System: These are computer platforms which allow you to create and maintain your web site through their built in user interface without writing any code. This includes the sites like Google’s blogger.com, and the free WordPress web authoring site. Some services, like blogger.com, are free, while others charge for signing up, hosting, domain names, etc.

Top 4 reasons to be wary of shared web-hosting

Dedicated-Hosting

Shared web hosting is when a single server and its resources are shared between a number of users. The number one reason that people are attracted to this form of web hosting is because it is economical. The costs of running the server is shared between a number of users, which means that each user only has to pay for a small ratio. We’re not saying this is a bad option, in fact, there are circumstances in which shared web hosting might be the perfect option for you.

As with everything, there are advantages. You get unlimited space and domains, which means that you can run several sites on the same server. Additionally, being computer incompetent is not an obstacle, because many shared hosts offer one click installs in well-known platforms, such as WordPress. However, there are some disadvantages to keep in mind when you’re deciding whether it is a good option for you.

restruction web-hosting

4. Restrictions

As with everything that is shared, when one person uses more, the others get less. A commonly reported disadvantage to shared web hosting, is that if one user’s site has a lot of traffic or email capabilities, the other users suffer. So, it’s probably best and more considerate to only add shared web hosting to the list of possibilities if you’re expecting your site to only rack up a small amount of hits.

secure-web-hosting-is-important-660x251

3. Security

When you’re sharing a server, it’s all for one and one for all. So that means, all it takes to bring down your site is someone else’s mistake. One customer’s weak password or out of date software might mean a breech in the entire system. One site runner’s Trojan infected theme will literally bring down your site, alone with everyone else’s on the server.

crash cartoon-virtualized-server

2. It will crash

This one is unavoidable. There are a number of perfectly legitimate and respectable sites that offer you shared web-hosting. But, the truth of it all, is that, an unavoidable consequence of putting thousands of websites on the same server, is that it will crash. The doesn’t matter how many proactive measures are put in place, and some sites really go the long haul to minimise crashing, but the pressure of that main sites puts too much strain on the machine. As rare as it might be, your server will end up crashing from time to time.

1. User experience

Shared hosting is the slowest of all hosting because of the strain on the server. As a result, it creates a tedious and unenjoyable experience for your users. There isn’t a single upside to making a user’s experience on your sight less enjoyable, but in the event that we have a reader that doesn’t actually mind, it gets worse. A little while back, google started using the speed of your site as a factor in determining the placement on your site in the search engine. So, to put it simply, the worst your site, the harder it will be to find on google.

Web Host Security

Businesswoman holding tablet pc entering password. Security conc

You wouldn’t leave your house unlocked, or your handbag lying open in a room full of strangers (well, maybe you would but that is an issue for a different time), so why not take the same interest in the security of your web host?

Whether your site is a personal blog, a portfolio or a professional company website, you need to be confident that it is as secure as possible. With the internet becoming more and more accessible from anywhere in the world, it has fast become the standard in both business and wider communication. It has also become a bigger target for hackers and opportune tech-heads to challenge themselves and see how far they can get. Even if your company doesn’t deal with money directly, there is still information that be taken and used unethically.

Although it sounds like something from a film (Melissa McCarthy, I am looking at you), identity thieves are a real threat to the internet world. They seek information that they can use to gain something – usually money, but it could be access to something else, or mere glory. Identity thieves are known for operating on a long-term basis; they continue until they are caught.

hosting-security

Not all hackers are out to steal information or money though. Some do it just to cause mayhem, because they enjoy watching their work have a disruptive effect on others, and want to prove that they have the power.

When you consider your web host, you should take into account their security measures. The majority of them are fully aware of the threats out there and have taken action to counter against them, but you should still double check so you can be fully confident in hosting with them. They should be able to reassure you that both their servers are completely safe, and your individual website has the necessary tools protecting it too.

Here are some acronyms that might be useful to know – find out more here:

SFTP – If you have ever uploaded files, you should know about File Transfer Protocol (FTP) – SFTP stands for the same thing but more secure, and who doesn’t want that? FTP, while fairly secure, is still vulnerable to hackers. Interception is the aim here, and if they are really good, they can adapt the file and carry it on its way is you don’t have SFTP! No one will be any the wiser. Definitely make sure that your web host has this in place.

SSL – SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. SSL makes sure that the connection between your website and the server is encrypted, and therefore more secure. The way to tell if SSL is in place is to look at the URL; it’s really simple. It the website address starts with http://, it does not have an SSL certificate. If it has the extra ’s’ on the end (https://) then you are all good! I bet that has answered a life-long question! Just me? Okay then. This is especially important if you run an e-commerce site, as consumers want to be confident that their payment information and personal details are safe.      

Backups –Backing up your files and data should be done regularly so that if disaster strikes, you don’t lose months’ worth of information. The majority of web hosts will have a tool that you can use easily to ensure frequent backups are taking place. However, you do need to take responsibility yourself to ensure the security of your own data.

Server maintenance –web servers need maintenance and checking just like every other product. The web host should be responsible for adequately servicing the server in order to keep an eye on any alarm bells and potential attacks. This also ensures that under-the-radar problems are picked up quickly and dealt with.

These are all really important things to consider, and should almost be second nature to those who are using web hosts. Hopefully this has helped to clarify for you which web hosts can be considered safe enough to host the precious possession that is your site.