A web host is a company that enables your website to be viewed on the internet. The pages that make up your website are stored – or hosted – on dedicated computers known as servers. When an internet user types in the address or links to a page on your website, their computer connects to your web host’s server, which sends the webpage back to the user’s browser.
Setting up your website
The single most important requirement for a website is to have a domain name, which forms the web address of your site. If you don’t have one, companies such as names.co.uk web hosting will assist you in purchasing one. If you have yet to design your site, they will often have features such as drag-and-drop website builders and access to apps such as WordPress or Joomla as part of their hosting package. Some hosts may even offer to build websites for you.
Features to expect
While you will need to compare hosts to get the right deal for your site, there are some features that you can expect as standard:
– Email accounts: your hosting company can provide email account features so that you can create email accounts at the domain name of your website, such as email@example.com.
– FTP access: FTP enables you to upload files directly from your computer to the server. This is particularly useful if you are developing your own web pages in HTML, as you can build, edit and upload your pages for immediate viewing over the internet at any time.
– WordPress: a popular tool for creating websites, WordPress is behind more than one-quarter of websites found on the internet today. Most web hosts support WordPress, requiring a minimum of PHP version 7 and MySQL version 5.6.
– SSL certificate: at an extra cost, hosts can provide encryption and security to protect your website and your visitors. This is essential if visitors will be entering sensitive information via your site.
– Technical support: a professional web host should have in-house experts that its customers can contact to resolve technical issues should they arise, providing a smooth hosting experience for individuals and businesses alike.
Choosing a web hosting service
Beyond these basic features, the level of service and additional features will vary, with hosting package prices reflecting this. Personal sites and fledgling businesses may need little more than the basics to begin with; however, as highlighted by IT news hub ITPro, businesses and their websites’ needs can eventually outgrow the services their host can provide, requiring a move to a new host.
Think carefully to make sure you are not going to be paying over the odds for a package that you don’t need; at the same time, make sure you can upgrade in the future if your needs change. If you are not sure, contact the host by phone for an informal chat about what is best for your site.