WEBSITE HOSTING 101

Hosting a website.

A beginner’s guide. Typically, hosting packages vary based on the resources provided and the total number of websites that can be accommodated.

Types of Hosting

Websites vary in their resource requirements, with factors like daily page views influencing the necessary memory, storage, and processing power. Hosting plans differ in the resources they offer and the number of websites they can host. Below are various types of hosting plans and their distinctions.

Shared Hosting

Shared Hosting is an economical choice for entry-level website hosting, allowing cost savings by sharing server space with other websites. However, resource sharing can lead to slowdowns during periods of high traffic, known as bottlenecking. Some less reputable providers may overcrowd servers to maximize profits, exacerbating bottlenecking issues. Shared hosting is suitable for small or new websites with limited traffic, typically up to a few hundred daily page views.

VPS Hosting

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting is akin to Shared Hosting, where multiple websites share a server. The key difference lies in resource allocation. Each website on a VPS is assigned a specific amount of server resources, ensuring that one website’s activities do not impact others. This setup allows for customization of the operating system and servers to enhance performance and security. VPS Hosting is suitable for websites with moderate traffic, offering the ability to host multiple sites on the same server.

Dedicated Server

A Dedicated Server is exclusively dedicated to one user’s needs, making it ideal for high-traffic websites with demanding speed and storage requirements. This option is suitable for supporting a single high-traffic website or multiple sites with moderate to high traffic. Dedicated servers provide enhanced security since the entire server is devoted to a single user, minimizing the risk of malware spreading among different websites.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud Hosting, a relatively recent hosting form, aggregates the power of multiple servers into a vast resource pool. Websites draw resources from this pool as needed, ensuring scalability as the site grows. While the pay-as-you-go model allows for automatic scaling, cloud hosting faces challenges such as the potential for one infected website to impact the entire network and increased susceptibility to cyberattacks. It may also be costlier compared to other hosting options.

Colocation

For those who own their servers, colocation involves renting space at a colocation center. The center provides essential resources like power, bandwidth, IP addresses, and cooling systems, along with physical space for server storage. Users are responsible for server maintenance, including hardware and software updates.

WordPress Hosting

WordPress Hosting caters specifically to websites built on the WordPress CMS, which powers 35% of all websites. This hosting type includes access to the popular WordPress website builder and cPanel. Users can choose an operating system to connect to their hosting package.

Operating Systems

An Operating System (OS) serves as the software bridge between users and a server’s hardware, enabling communication with the external environment. It facilitates adjustments to hosting settings without the need for physical code or configuration alterations. There are two primary OS options for website hosting: Linux and Windows. Importantly, there is no requirement to match the OS of your computer with that of your server. In other words, having a Linux-based home computer is not necessary for using Linux on your website, and vice versa for Windows. However, there are some significant distinctions between the two.

Linux (Unix)

Linux, renowned for its reliability and security, stands as the most popular OS. Being open source allows for the free modification and redistribution of its source code, providing extensive customization options for server capabilities and user preferences. It supports PHP, a web application scripting language, and MySQL, a database system. These technologies are integral to popular web applications like WordPress, Zen Cart (an online store management system), and phpBB (an internet forum package), enhancing website functionality. While WordPress is compatible with Windows, it tends to run more smoothly on Linux. Linux commonly employs Apache or Nginx as web server software. Apache has been the standard for years, but Nginx is gaining popularity due to its faster performance and lower memory usage. Notably, Nginx is not yet supported by cPanel, the primary control panel for Linux. While a Linux OS can technically utilize IIS (Windows’ web server software) and its applications, the complexity involved makes this choice less appealing, especially considering the minimal benefits. Due to Linux’s open-source nature and Windows’ licensing, Linux-based hosting plans are generally pricier.

Windows

Windows-based hosts, such as Windows Server 2016, typically rely on IIS (Internet Information Services) as their web server. While Apache is also an option, IIS is favored because it comes bundled with the Windows server package and is specifically designed for it. Although Apache is as capable as IIS, the latter is more user-friendly for Windows users out-of-the-box. IIS primarily hosts ASP.NET web applications and static websites, employing the C# programming language for increased functionality. It can also host web applications on other platforms using various technologies, including PHP. Although IIS is the default for Windows OS, choosing Apache may be preferable, especially for WordPress users. While WordPress can be installed on IIS, the security risks associated with using a web server not explicitly designed for it often outweigh the benefits. Apache offers comparable capabilities to IIS with added security measures. After selecting an operating system, adjustments can be made to web servers to enhance performance and maintain security. The extent of involvement in this process is at the user’s discretion.

Hosting Management

Effective management of web servers is crucial for maintaining security, ensuring software is up-to-date, and optimizing settings for efficiency. There are three primary approaches to server management.

Self-Managed

Self-management grants users the freedom to customize their server according to their preferences. Employing Secure Shell (SSH) and the command line enables users to fine-tune performance settings, choose specific updates, and tailor security settings and configurations. While this autonomy allows for a faster site and personalized security measures, it does demand a certain level of technical proficiency.

The drawback lies in the requirement for technical skills, but the investment in learning can prove worthwhile in the long run.

Managed

In a managed hosting scenario, the provider assumes responsibility for handling details such as security patches, updates, and backups. An easy-to-use control panel is provided, allowing users to adjust crucial settings with convenience. Essentially, a managed server offers security and regular updates with minimal involvement from the user.

Fully-Managed

Fully-managed hosting plans involve comprehensive configuration management by the provider, covering aspects like DNS configuration, load handling, software upgrades, task automation, and more. The provider’s team monitors and addresses traffic spikes, ensuring the website can handle increased traffic during peak periods. Continuous file checks and backups prevent data loss, while advanced security software safeguards against malware, spyware, and suspicious traffic.

While customization options are limited, users can request specific hardware or software installations from the provider. This option is the most expensive and is generally recommended for highly-trafficked websites lacking in-house expertise for server security.

Fortunately, control panels offer an accessible means of server management, eliminating the need for direct server access and technical skills.

Control Panels

Control Panels

Control panels provide a user-friendly interface for managing hosting packages without direct server access. They facilitate tasks such as application installation, email account management, file uploads, and more. The two primary control panels, cPanel and Plesk, are utilized by reputable hosting providers including GoDaddy, HostGator, BlueHost, and CCD.

cPanel

Exclusive to Linux, cPanel, coupled with Web Host Manager (WHM), offers intuitive graphical interface management. Featuring a customizable dashboard and extensive guidance, cPanel enables easy management. Security features include the ability to blacklist or whitelist individual IPs, regions, and countries. Additionally, cPanel supports outbound message encryption and seamless integration with third-party applications. Notably, cPanel is compatible with Linux-based servers, the predominant choice for internet hosting, and is cost-effective compared to Plesk.

Plesk

Plesk serves as a control panel, akin to cPanel, facilitating straightforward server management. However, what sets Plesk apart is its compatibility with both Linux and Windows servers, unlike cPanel. Plesk boasts a more logical organizational structure compared to cPanel and allows the management of multiple servers through a single control panel. It is worth noting that Plesk is the pricier option when compared to cPanel. Within Plesk’s offerings are security patches delivered within 24 hours, along with support for Let’s Encrypt and Symantec SSL for encryption purposes. In summary, Plesk stands out as a slightly more user-friendly option for beginners, and its versatility extends to both Linux and Windows servers. However, it comes with a higher price tag.

What to Seek in a Hosting Provider

As you likely know, the paramount quality to look for in a hosting provider is reliability.

This may be easier said than done, so how can one discern which providers are reliable?

Many hosting providers attempt to upsell clients on more extensive hosting plans than necessary. Consequently, individuals often find themselves paying for features their website doesn’t require. To precisely determine what your website needs in a hosting plan, refer to the following section.

Key Attributes of an Exceptional Hosting Provider

Scalability: A reputable host should offer multiple plans that can adapt as your website evolves.

Support: Professional and responsive support is crucial, especially for website building tasks, particularly if you use WordPress. Phone support is preferred as it allows for step-by-step assistance in resolving issues.

Security: Malware scans, detecting and eliminating threatening programs, are essential for safeguarding both you and your customers. Automated backups offer a safety net in case of unexpected issues.

Speed: In a world filled with distractions, the speed of your website is paramount. If your web pages take more than 2 seconds to load, visitors may seek alternatives.

Price: Transparent pricing is a hallmark of a reliable host. It is crucial that a host does not deceive you into paying more in the future.

Determining Required Resources

Bandwidth Formula

Bandwidth Needed=Average Daily Visitors×Average Daily Pageviews×Average Page Size (in KB)×31(days in a month)×1.3(allowing for margin of error and growth)Bandwidth Needed=Average Daily Visitors×Average Daily Pageviews×Average Page Size (in KB)×31(days in a month)×1.3(allowing for margin of error and growth)

Remember, the result is in KB and should be converted to GB by dividing it by 1,000,000 to determine your bandwidth needs.

Storage: In general, your storage needs may be less than anticipated. Web pages occupy minimal disk space, and significant storage capacity is primarily affected by large file sizes like videos.. Allocate approximately 1GB for each database in use.

Memory: RAM plays a pivotal role in website load speeds. Use the following formula to calculate your RAM requirements: RAM Needed=Operating System+Control Panel+Other Applications+Traffic+WebsiteRAM Needed=Operating System+Control Panel+Other Applications+Traffic+Website

Selecting an Ideal Hosting Environment for Your Website

If you are in the process of establishing a new website or if your existing site isn’t experiencing high traffic volumes, a Shared Hosting plan is likely the most suitable and cost-effective choice. Additionally, the flexibility to upgrade to more advanced plans is available as your website expands and gains more visibility!

FAQ

We believe in complete transparency regarding our pricing. While, like many web hosting providers, we adjust our pricing after the initial year, our rate increase is significantly lower than that of our competitors. Over time, you’ll find that you pay less with us on a year-over-year basis.

For individuals creating a basic website on a budget, especially those with limited funds, our recommendation is to opt for a self-managed hosting package. This allows for the easy setup of WordPress with cPanel, utilizing a Linux OS on a shared server. This approach proves to be the most cost-effective method for website development. By swiftly learning WordPress, users can establish a professional site, leverage MySQL databases on Linux for client or product information, and implement cPanel for straightforward security settings, safeguarding the website from basic threats. As your website expands, upgrading plans ensures seamless scalability.

No, you do not need a Mac to operate a Linux-based web server. The operating system used for your web server is independent of the OS on your personal or work computer.

If you have a query that hasn’t been addressed here, feel free to reach out to us at (480) 624-2500. We are available 24/7 to assist and provide answers to any questions you may have.

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