You're great website is done, it looks great and you can't wait to show it to the world. You want to be first on Google for all relevant searches, you want your users to send you super nice comments, you want to be the next king online. We will cover all of that in future articles but for now let's solve the first problem.
How do I get my awesome website online?
Firstly you require a hosting provider. A hosting provider is usually a company that has huge warehouses full of servers and they sell you a portion of one of those servers so you can put your website on it. That sound simple right?
Unfortunately it's not so simple...
There are thousands of companies providing these services and on top of that you can even have your website hosted on your home computer. So which one should you choose?
1. Understand your website
If your website consists of a few pages and images you can go for the cheapest option out there Shared Hosting. Shared hosting is when you buy a tiny bit of server space from one of these big providers.
If your website has a CMS( Content Management System ) but with little pages you can still go for Shared Hosting but don't cheap out, go for an intermediate plan. This is very important because a CMS will add a lot of work to your servers therefore you need a bigger portion of a server.
The next stage is Dedicated Hosting. this is when you buy one or more complete servers. With this solution you'll be able to accommodate a website that has around 10,000 pages with a CMS and around 100,000 visits a month but of course is significantly more expensive then the 2 options above.
The last option is Hosting your own servers. This solution is going down in popularity quite a lot lately because Dedicated Hosting is becoming cheaper and cheaper by the hour. However with this way you have full control of the server hardware, location, internet connection, etc... making it that much more expensive to maintain and requiring a skilled System Administrator to handle it.
2. Understand scaling
Scaling is a term used mainly in software to describe the increase / decrease of a particular software application such as a website. At this stage you have to understand that the more visitors you have at one time, the slower the servers will be and therefore the slower the website will be so you have to determine how much are you willing to pay to have a server that can scale with your visitors if for example your articles about cats go viral.
3. Comparing prices and server quality
There are hundreds of companies out there providing hosting solutions with all possible tiers; shared hosting, dedicated, etc... however sometimes there companies try to cheap a little bit to offer a more competitive price and this is where you need to be super careful.
Company 1 can provide a shared hosting account for €6/month and Company 2 might can provide another type of shared hosting for €20/month so what should you go for?
As a rule of thumb you should try out different companies and plans to find what suits you best however there are a few pointers that you can follow to short list the companies you will try out;
- Read reviews about different companies and plans, this will give you a very good indications of there services.
- Look through their website, this seems obvious but if you think that they take care of their website as best they can then they probably do the same with their servers, if the website is old and unmaintained you can almost be the sure that the servers take the same treatment.
- Try to find companies that offer servers that are geographically close to your costumers. This in most cases will give you better performance but might cost a little more then going for servers that are located in the US or Asia.
- Finally take a look at the server specifications, this might not be as easy as it seems but in most cases you can just Google the specifications and if you see that the hardware is over 5 years old then we suggest to look for an alternative company.