Hosting a website means putting it online on the Internet. Whether it’s a personal blog or a business site, having one offers many benefits, including improved online presence and credibility.
But where to start and what do we need to make our website work?
If this is your first time building a website, we’ve got you covered.
This beginner’s guide will walk you through how to host a website, from choosing the best hosting provider to uploading your site. Additionally, we will add a general step-by-step guide to 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 allows website owners to put their sites online, while the latter is the unique website address.
Web hosting services, like Host, provide ready-to-use web servers. On them, site owners can upload their website files and make them accessible to people all over the world.
Typically, a hosting company will take care of the technical aspects on the server side, allowing site owners to focus on creating and managing website content.
Meanwhile, a domain name is a unique address of a website. It points to a string of numbers identifying a computer or server on a network, called an IP address.
The Domain Name System (DNS) was created to facilitate access to websites. Instead of remembering the IP address, users can use the domain name to access a website. To get a domain namesite owners can register it with a domain registrar.
How does web hosting work?
A web host uses physical computers as servers. When users sign up for a hosting plan, they are essentially renting the resources of a server to store their site files. Ultimately, the company will manage these servers to maintain site availability for its customers.
Therefore, when users type a domain name into their browser’s address bar, the web server storing the site’s files will process the request and transfer all information necessary to fulfill it.
Types of Web Hosting
Most web hosting companies offer several solutions, ranging from a simple shared hosting environment to a dedicated hosting option. Since 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 types of hosting:
- Shared Hosting: This solution hosts multiple websites on a single physical server. Besides being the most affordable option, it comes with a preconfigured server. Therefore, it is perfect for beginners wishing to create small sites.
- VPS Hosting: Short for virtual private server, it allows site owners to have their own virtualized space within a physical server. As a result, VPS provides more stable performance than the previous one.
- Cloud Hosting: Using a network of virtual servers to store website files, this type of hosting helps ensure excellent website uptime and performance. In case of failure of a server, the others will take over to ensure the operation of the site. Therefore, cloud hosting is an excellent choice for business sites.
- Dedicated server hosting: With this most powerful hosting infrastructure, site owners get a full server for their websites only. Dedicated servers are great for large e-commerce stores, streaming sites, and web applications.
Additionally, some web hosting services offer specific hosting environments for WordPress sights and Minecraft waiters.
For these specific hosting types, the service provider will bundle support features based on the hosting specialty. For example, WordPress hosting plans may come with the CLI, staging tools, themes, and acceleration plugins.
How to choose the right web hosting?
With over a hundred hosting providers available, it can be difficult to choose the best one for your needs. You may also have difficulty understanding hosting buzzwords.
Let’s learn some of the most important factors to consider when choosing the perfect web hosting provider for your project.
- Availability guarantee: It measures the time a server is available online. Avoid frequent shutdowns or restarts by choosing a web hosting company that offers at least a 99.9% server uptime guarantee.
- Server response time: Often referred to as SRT, it indicates the time it takes for a web server to process a request. Find a provider with an SRT of less than 200ms to ensure excellent page load times.
- Technical specifications: These include storage space, RAM, processor power, and bandwidth. Ideally, a 50GB SSD, 768MB RAM, 1-core CPU, and 100GB bandwidth should suffice for small websites.
- Control Panel: The most popular are cPanel, Pleskand Webmin. That said, many hosts offer their own custom control panels.
- Backup and security policies: The former refers to a copy of website files stored in other locations as a prerequisite for unexpected situations. The latter covers any effort to secure the hosting infrastructure, including providing a robust firewall, protection against distributed denial of service attacks, and regular malware scans.
- Additional services: Although they differ from provider to provider, some include a free domain name, SSL certificate, and Content Delivery Network (CDN) in their plans.
- Customer service: You never know when your website will encounter errors, so we recommend choosing a web hosting service provider with 24/7 support. The most popular communication channels are live chat, phone support, and email.
How to upload your website and make it work?
While many think that uploading a website requires advanced technical skills, website uploading tools like file manager and FTP make the process quite simple.
If your site files are less than 256MB, you can upload them from the control panel Case -> File manager and extract the files to the public_html phone book.
If it’s bigger, go 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 it Remote file panel -> choose public_html.
- Navigate to the local site panel -> find your extracted files.
- Select all files -> right click on them -> click To download.
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 use cases for locally hosted websites are test accounts and site blocking tools.
Before hosting your own website, prepare the following:
- A laptop or personal computer running Ubuntu.
- A domain name.
- An Ethernet cable.
Here is a general step-by-step guide to hosting a site on your local computer:
- Install 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 seem. 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 available to internet users.
When it comes to types, a shared hosting service is ideal for personal websites, like online portfolios and personal blogs. VPS and cloud hosting are best suited for small and medium business websites due to their excellent performance. For large e-commerce stores and streaming sites, rent a full server unit and get dedicated resources.
On top of everything, you can always try hosting your site on your own server to reduce your hosting budget. However, you will need technical skills to ensure that your site system is top notch.
If you choose a hosting plan from Hostinger, use promo code YOURSTORY to get an additional 7% off.