What Kind of Web Hosting Do You Really Need?

What kind of web hosting do you really need for your blog or website?

When it comes to establishing your web presence, there are several things you’ll need to start off.  

When it comes to your web presence, there are several things you’ll need to start. Click To Tweet

The most basic thing you’ll need when starting a website is to know and understand what the purpose of your website is. I cannot stress that enough.

In fact, I’d take it a step further and say that you should probably have some basic content already created for your website or blog long before you create it. Creating content early will help you to see better what you really need. I strongly recommend if you have no clue where to even start writing content, to get a copy of the book Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works. You can probably find it at your local library, although this is such a great resource, you may want to buy it.

I don’t even like to start on a web design project without my client first having some sort of content created. I explain more about that here.

Technical Needs of Your Website

In terms of your technical needs, after you’ve decided on your website’s purpose and have some planning in place for the information and content, there are a few things you’ll need to buy. This may seem a bit confusing at first, and so I’m going to try to explain these as simply as I can.

The first is a domain name, which I talk about more in this other post over here on how to select a domain name for your website. The second is web hosting, which I’m going to talk about below. The third thing you’ll need for your website is the design itself, the files that make up your website.

For right now, let’s talk about web hosting.

What kind of web hosting do you need for your blog or website project?

What is web hosting? Think of web hosting like renting a storefront for your business. You have you have somewhere to put the files that make up your website so that others will be able to find them.

Think of web hosting like renting a storefront for your business. Click To Tweet

Web hosts vary greatly in price, starting around $3 per month all the way up.

What kinds of Web Host options are there?

What are the different options with web hosting and websites?

Free Options

There are free options such as blogger, wordpress.com (not to be confused with self-hosted WordPress, or wordpress.org), and other website options out there. The main problems with these options are:

  • You usually can’t sell directly on these sites, depending on the Terms of Service
  • It doesn’t look as professional to have a yourdomain.blogspot.com
  • You don’t actually own your content and your whole site can disappear if they find you in violation of their terms of use (according to many terms of service)
  • I knew someone who is “famous” who was using one of these free options. I enjoyed reading his insights on working as a TV producer on one of my favorite shows. One day, the free blog service shut him down for impersonating a famous person. Gone was all of his great insights, photos, and so forth. Later, they realized it really was him, and apologized. Too late. All his stuff was gone. He learned his lesson and moved on.

However, this sort of option might work for you if you’re just interested in getting information out there to your readers, and you’re pointing them to another site (such as Etsy, amazon, or others) to sell your products. Again, carefully look over the terms of use, to make sure you’re not in violation.

Basic Paid Options

Believe it or not, sometimes the cheaper basic options may work for you, depending on your needs. It’s important to, first of all, know what you need before you buy your hosting, and understand some of the options available.

Among the more important options, I would say the three that stick out in my mind are these:

What are the bandwidth and file allotment?

Many of these are now “unlimited” (within reason, if you read the fine print).

Bandwidth means the amount of data that is allowed to be transferred to and from your website in a given month. Usually, you’ll not need a huge bandwidth allotment, although I’ve done websites for several churches that host their own audio sermon files. In this case, unlimited bandwidth is important, since audio files take up a great deal of space.

Again, it all depends on what you are doing with your site.

How many domain names does it allow?

Normally, with a web host, you have one main domain name, and then any number of parked domains and possibly even subdomains. I’ve noticed that some cheaper web hosting doesn’t allow more than one domain name. This is not a problem if you’ve only purchased one. However, if you have all of the TLDs for your domain, you’ll want to park them on your web hosting.

Does it have MySQL databases?

That may sound like Greek to you, but a MySQL database is the heart of many modern websites. The database is now used to hold most of the information in a dynamic website, such as a shopping cart or a WordPress website. You’ll need at least one of those.

Other Considerations

Other considerations, that aren’t exactly necessary, but nice to have, includes some sort of script installation software such as Fantastico or Softalicious. These enable you to install shopping carts or scripts such as WordPress with one click. Even though I am an experienced web developer, and I know how to do these installations myself, I still would rather do a one click installation over the manual option.

Most web hosts also have other options, usually referred to as “Business” or “Enterprise” packages. Most of the time, from my experience, these are more geared towards a larger company with a huge amount of web traffic, not towards the home based business just starting out. Usually, if your traffic has gotten too high, they will let you know if you need to upgrade.

A web developer will be able to let you know if any given web host will fit your needs. Some web hosts have chat options with someone from sales who can also help you decide if an option is right for you. However, in such a case, keep in mind that they want you to buy their services, so you might want to take what they are saying with a grain of salt.

A web developer will be able to let you know if any given web host will fit your needs. Click To Tweet

Always back up your files

It goes without saying, no matter who you are hosting with, you should always run backups of your files and your MySQL database if you use one of those. If you’re using WordPress, which I recommend, you will have the option to export your website content in one neat XML file, minus the images and theme (template) files. I always try to keep a current backup of my template and images too.

Of course, if you have followed me for long, you know I learned this particular lesson the hard way. A few years ago, I lost my entire website and because of some serious situations that were going on in our lives at the time, it had been a couple of years since I had backed up. All of those reminders to my web design clients to back up their sites, and I failed to back up mine.

In some ways, it was a good thing, though, as I had been wanting to re-arrange the information architecture in my site better, and rebrand the site from JoyfulMomma into Thoughts and Designs. However, I was not a happy camper.

Make Back-Ups. In fact, get a thumb drive or an external hard drive just for your website’s files. Trust me. You’ll not regret it.

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