Hosting a website means getting it live on the internet. Whether it is a personal blog or a business site, having one offers many benefits, including improving online presence and credibility.
But where do we start, and what do we need to get our website running?
If this is your first time building a website, we got you covered.
This beginner guide will explain how to host a website, from choosing the best hosting provider to uploading your site. Furthermore, we’ll add a general step-by-step guide for hosting a site locally on your personal computer.
What do you need to host a website?
Web hosting and a domain name are the two essential factors in hosting a website. The former enables website owners to get their sites online, whereas the latter is the website’s unique address.
Web hosting services, like Hostinger, provide ready-to-use web servers. On them, site owners can upload their website files and make them accessible to people worldwide.
Typically, a hosting company will handle the server-side technicalities, enabling site owners to focus on creating and managing the website’s content.
Meanwhile, a domain name is a unique address of a website. It points to a string of numbers identifying a computer or a server on a network, called an IP address.
The domain name system (DNS) was created to make accessing websites more convenient. Instead of memorising the IP address, users can use the domain name to go to a website. To get a domain name, site owners can register it from a domain registrar.
How does web hosting work?
A web host uses physical computers as servers. When users subscribe to a hosting plan, they essentially rent a server’s resources to store their site files. Ultimately, the company will manage those servers to maintain their clients’ site availability.
As a result, when users type in a domain name into their browser’s address bar, the web server storing the site files will process the request and transfer all the necessary information to fulfill it
Types of web hosting
Most web hosting companies offer multiple solutions, from a simple shared hosting environment to a dedicated hosting option. As web hosting plans are often scalable, you can always start small and upgrade the plan once your site requires more server resources.
Generally, here are four of the most common hosting types:
- Shared hosting: This solution hosts multiple websites on a single physical server. Besides being the most affordable option, it comes with a pre-configured server. Hence, it’s perfect for beginners wanting to build small sites.
- VPS hosting: Short for a virtual private server, it allows site owners to have their own virtualised space within one physical server. As a result, VPS ensures a more stable performance than the previous.
- Cloud hosting: Utilising a network of virtual servers to store website’s files, this hosting type helps ensure excellent website uptime and performance. Should one server fail, the others will take over to keep the site running. Therefore, cloud hosting is a great choice for business sites.
- Dedicated server hosting: With this most powerful hosting infrastructure, site owners get an entire server for their websites only. Dedicated servers are perfect for large e-commerce stores, streaming sites, and web apps.
In addition, some web hosting services offer specific-hosting environments for WordPress sites and Minecraft servers.
Regarding such specific hosting types, the service provider will pack supporting features based on the hosting specialty. For example, WordPress hosting plans may come with the Command Line Interface, staging tools, themes, and acceleration plugins.
How to choose the right web hosting?
With more than a hundred hosting providers available, it can be challenging to pick the best one for your needs. You may also have difficulties understanding the hosting buzzwords.
Let’s learn some of the most important factors to consider when choosing the perfect web hosting provider for your project.
- Uptime guarantee: It measures the time a server is available online. Avoid frequent shutdowns or restarts by choosing a web hosting company offering at least a 99.9 percent server uptime guarantee.
- Server response time: Often called an SRT, it shows the time it takes for a web server to process a request. Find a provider whose SRT is under 200 ms to ensure an excellent page load time.
- Technical specifications: These include storage space, RAM, CPU power, and bandwidth. Ideally, a 50 GB SSD, 768 MB RAM, a 1-core CPU, and 100 GB bandwidth should be adequate for small websites.
- Control panel: The most popular ones are cPanel, Plesk, and Webmin. That said, many hosting providers offer their own custom control panels.
- Backup and security policies: The former refers to a copy of the website files stored in alternative locations as a prerequisite for unexpected situations. The latter covers any effort to secure the hosting infrastructure, including providing a robust firewall, distributed denial-of-service attack protection, and regular malware scans.
- Additional services: While they differ from one provider to another, some pack a free domain name, an SSL certificate, and a content delivery network (CDN) in their plans.
- Customer support: You never know when your website will encounter errors, so we recommend choosing a web hosting service provider with 24/7 support. The popular communication channels are live chat, phone support, and email.
How to upload your website and get it running?
While many think uploading a website requires advanced technical skills, website upload tools, such as File Manager and FTP, make the process pretty simple.
If your site files are under 256 MB, you can upload them from your control panel’s File -> File Manager and extract the files to the public_html directory.
If it’s larger, opt for a file transfer protocol (FTP) like FileZilla. Here’s how:
- Extract your archived files to your local computer.
- Connect your hosting account to FileZilla. Use SFTP or SSH port 22 for a more secure connection.
- Locate the Remote File panel -> choose public_html.
- Navigate to the Local Site panel -> find your extracted files.
- Select all the files -> right click on them -> click Upload.
How to host a website on your own server?
Hosting your website on your own computer is possible. However, note that self-hosting a website requires technical knowledge and may not be the best option for a public website. The most common locally-hosted website use cases are test accounts and site-blocking tools.
Before hosting your own website, prepare the following:
- A laptop or personal computer running on Ubuntu.
- A domain name.
- An ethernet cable.
Here’s a general step-by-step guide to hosting a site on your local computer:
- Install the Ubuntu server.
- Install Apache.
- Install MySQL.
- Install PHP.
- Create users and databases.
- Install WordPress or any CMS of your choice.
- Enable HTTPS.
Hosting a website is not as overwhelming as it may sound. All you need to do is get a domain name, choose the best hosting plan for your project, and upload the website files to make them accessible to internet users.
When it comes to types, a shared hosting service is great for personal websites, like online portfolios and personal blogs. VPS and cloud hosting best suit small to medium-sized business websites due to their excellent performance. For large e-commerce stores and streaming sites, rent a whole server unit and get dedicated resources.
On top of everything, you can always try hosting your site on your own server to cut your hosting budget. However, you’ll need technical skills to ensure your site system is top-tier.
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