Why do I need web hosting?
Without a web host your business website would not appear on the Internet.
A web host provides disk space for your website and connectivity to the web so that visitors from anywhere in the world can see your website.
Your website is placed on one of your web host’s servers in a data centre that can contain hundreds, and even thousands of servers.
What is a server?
A server is basically a very specialized computer that stores your website, and many others as well, and is programmed to display your website on the Internet.
What am I paying for?
A web host charges you for the amount of disk space that your website takes up on their servers.
They also charge you for bandwidth – and we’ll talk about bandwidth next time.
And of course they also charge you for providing a service if problems arise and they need to fix the problem.
What is bandwidth?
When it comes to the Internet bandwidth is the term for the transfer of data from your website to the computer of someone who is looking at your website.
The more people who look at your website the bandwidth your website will consume. Bandwidth is measured in bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes and so on.
Web hosts charge in advance for bandwidth and there is always a minimum amount of bandwidth that you have to pay for even if your website does not use that amount.
Will my website always be online?
The Internet is an incredibly fragile system and even though there are many redundancies built in there are times when problems arise and that is why every web host talks about “uptime”
Sometimes the problems that can take your website offline involve issues at the web host’s data centre.
Sometimes the problems that can take your website offline involve issues that are totally beyond your web hosts control.
Your website will also disappear from the Internet if you fail to pay your web hosting accounts. Web hosts are under no obligation or legal requirement to provide a free service.
What is uptime?
Uptime is the amount of time that you can reasonably expect your website to be online.
Because of the fragile nature of the Internet there is no guarantee that your website will always be online and that’s why web hosts will guarantee a certain amount of up time but rarely guarantee 100% uptime.
99.9% uptime guarantee sounds impressive but when you do the maths that still leaves quite a large amount of time each year when your website could be down.
What is the minimum level of service I need?
There is a wide range of levels of service but these days we would suggest that the minimum level of service is 24/7 phone support.
Email or trouble ticket support is ok but if you run something like an online shop that could be producing income for you at any hour of the day or night then phone support is important.
Where should my web host be located?
It is best if your web host is located in the same country as your business. However sometimes there are factors such as cost and uptime guarantees that may make it more economical to host in other countries.
For example, for many years the cost and standard of hosting in Australia made hosting in the US a better choice. That is now changing and we are now recommending to our clients that we set up their websites on an Australian host.
This post was compiled from a number of shorter posts on our Facebook page. Follow us on Facebook for more frequent posts about web design, search engine optimisation, web hosting and other relevant information.