Create a Website FAQ - Web Hosting

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Table of Contents

What is web hosting?
Web hosting refers to making a website available on the web, for the world to see. Most individuals and companies outsource their web hosting to a hosting provider. Hosting providers have the equipment and skills that are required to host a website on the web.

To host your website with a hosting provider, you sign up (typically using an online form), then upload your website from your local computer to the hosting providers web server. You usually do this using FTP, or even the control panel.

Should I choose free web hosting?
I never recommend using free web hosting. Free hosting can cause you more headaches than it's worth. I've heard stories of websites just "disappearing" into thin air after the free host went out of business. I've also heard of free hosts suddenly starting to charge for hosting. And those who had websites either had to pay an exorbitant amount to retain their websites, or simply lose their website altogether.

Also, many free hosts actually place advertising on your website. Therefore, you can never be in total control of your website. And what if you want to make money with your own ads? You'll be competing with those of your website providers!

You should be able to find a good hosting plan for around $5 to $10 per month. For example, ZappyHost has some of the best hosting plans on the web, starting from around $4 per month.

If you really can't afford $4 per month just now, at least try to register a domain name (around $10 to $15 at ZappyHost). That way, when things change (eg, you upgrade your hosting), your web address remains the same. Also, ZappyHost provides free hosting with every domain name you register. The free hosting is ad-supported but at least it gets your website up and running at no cost.

Can I host my own website?
Yes. Assuming you have the right equipment and skills you can host your own website.

However, most individuals and companies outsource their web hosting even if they do have the right equipment and/or skills. There are different reasons for this, but the most obvious one is that hosting companies can provide 24 hour support of your website. Any good hosting company will have staff working around the clock, to handle any issues that may arise at any time. This alone can be worth the small hosting fee. Imagine waking up in the morning, only to find that your website has been unavailable most of the night...

How to choose a hosting provider?
There are a number of things you should look for in a hosting provider. At the very least, you should ensure that they provide 24/7 support. You should ensure they can provide the most suitable hosting plan for you (cost, features etc). Some web hosts provide multiple plans that enable you to choose the best one. You should ensure that the pricing is reasonable.

When writing my web hosting tutorial, I created a list of things to look for when choosing a hosting provider. This should give you an excellent start to finding a good web host.

Of course, if you'd prefer that I suggest a hosting provider, ZappyHost has a great range of hosting plans with some of the best prices on the web.

What should I expect to pay
There can be enormous variations in price between different hosting companies. Also, each company may offer different plans - each with a different price.

Generally, for a basic, shared hosting plan, expect to pay somewhere around $5 to $10 per month.

More advanced hosting could be in the hundreds, or even thousands per month!

Why the huge difference in prices between hosting companies and plans?
This can depend on the company and the hosting plan. Some companies are able to offer better plans at better prices. Others aren't.

Also, one hosting company might offer several different hosting plans. More expensive shared plans could include things such as more disk space, more data transfer, more databases, multiple websites on one plan, and more. The most expensive hosting is usually when you get your own dedicated server (or servers). Unlike "shared" hosting, dedicated servers allow you full control of the web server that's running your website. No other customers have websites on your server (unlike shared hosting).

If you're just starting out building websites, usually a basic shared hosting plan is sufficient (at least, initially). Most web hosts allow you to upgrade later (although you might like to check with them first).

What's the difference between "Shared" hosting and a "Dedicated" server?
Shared hosting is when multiple customers' websites are hosted on one server. A dedicated server is when you are the only customer on the server. You have full control over the server, and you can place as many websites on it as you like. The only websites on your dedicated server are yours.

Most individuals use shared hosting, as it's much cheaper.

By the way, "shared" hosting doesn't mean that other customers can access your code or control panel or anything like that. It simply means that, behind the scenes, there are other websites being hosted on the same server. Only the hosting provider will have admin access to all websites on the shared server.

How do I upload my website to the hosting provider's server?
Most hosting providers enable you to upload your website using FTP. Don't worry, FTP is not as scary as it sounds! Most FTP programs make this simple. Once you've set it up, it's as simple as copying files around on your own computer. For more info on FTP, check out the FTP page of the web hosting tutorial.

Some web hosts also allow you to upload your code via your control panel (your login area for administering your website).

Note that if your web host provides an online website builder (like ZappyHost's Website Builder), you won't need to upload your website - instead, you'll just click a "Publish" button or something similar.

What if I need to change my hosting plan later?
This isn't normally a problem. You should check with your hosting provider to see if your initial payment can go towards the new plan though.
Should I build my website before I get a web host?
Not necessarily. Some web hosts offer an online website builder, so in this case, you'd need to get your web host first.

Even if you plan on building your own website then uploading to your web host, it's good to know who you'll eventually be hosting with. This may influence the way you build your site. For example, you might find that your web host provides a useful feature that replaces your need to build it. For example, if you want to build a blog, you might find a host that includes blog software in all their plans (like ZappyHost's hosting plans).