What is Website Hosting?

What is Website Hosting?

by on 16/01/2014

What is website hosting
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Many newcomers ask: what is website hosting?

It would be theoretically possible for you to host your website on your own home computer and connect it to the internet. But this is impractical for most of us for two main reasons:

  • You’d have to leave it turned on all the time so people could see your website.
  • If you got a rush of traffic one day it could easily crash your computer and disconnect your website from the internet!

This is why nearly every internet marketer uses other website hosting services.

What Website Hosts Do

Website hosts provide an essential part of the fabric of the internet. Their job is to “host” people’s websites so that they are constantly available on the internet. Then millions of surfers worldwide can call up those websites using their internet browsers.

The best website hosting companies have thousands of powerful computer servers arranged in air conditioned factory racks, stuffed full of websites. These are all connected to the Internet.

If you rent space on one of these servers you can “host” your own website, or websites, on that space.

Free Website Hosting Services

If you do not rent space on one of these servers – by having a website hosting account – you can use a free blog service – such as Blogger, WordPress.com, or Squidoo. You can create free blogs on these sites which will have their own servers to host them.

One advantage of a free blog service is that you may have access to a community of fellow bloggers who can be a source of traffic. BUT the main disadvantage is that you never own your content which is a distinct disadvantage long term.

The free-blog-site you love this year may have changed out of all recognition – or even gone out of business – in a few years time.

“Shared Hosting” – The Way to Start

For their starting off point in hosting most people will get “shared hosting”. This means you will share a powerful computer server with several hundred other people.

This is perfectly satisfactory for most people to start, as you are unlikely to have much traffic. However, you do have to be cautious before jumping into a contract with big hosts such as Hostgator, Bluehost or Justhost. (And did you know that, in spite of appearances, these are actually all part of the same massive company?) Why? Because they jam too many users onto the same computer – and can dramatically cut down your bandwidth.

As your site becomes more (hopefully) popular, you will want better website hosting service – more “bandwidth”, or power to serve up your pages faster. You’ll probably want to invest in a better package where you share a server with fewer people.

What is Website Hosting with “Unlimited Data”

Some of the entry-level website hosts promise you “unlimited data”.

This suggests you can send as much traffic as you like to your little bit of shared space on the servers hard drive. This is “sales talk” – exaggeration.

You can be sure that if, for any reason, you use more resources than your fellows on the same server the host will have something to say about it.

The website hosting companies monitor everyone’s usage of resources – especially how much of the computer’s CPU (central processing unit) is being used by each person. If anyone uses more than their fair share the host will take action pretty quickly to stop it. They will either contact you directly, or may just “throttle” your access – slow it down and say nothing.

You can monitor this by regularly checking the speed of your site using a service such as Yslow.

Costs of Website Hosting Services

If you choose paid hosting rather than free, the actual costs can be extremely reasonable. For 4, 5 or 6 dollars a month’s you can easily find a company to host your one website – or even a dozen of them if you have that many.

The best website hosting companies offering this entry level type of hosting include:

MDD Hosting

EuroVPS

Stablehost

This level of hosting will be perfectly adequate for you until one of your site starts getting a lot of traffic. You will then find that your share of the servers hard disk is not enough for you – it’s too slow.

That’s when you need to consider a more powerful package which might cost you more like $20-30 a month. (For example, Stablehost’s “Enterprise” Hosting, for $19.95 a month. In fact, this is much better than the entry level hosting because you get 24/7 phone support. With the entry-level hosting you only get email support – albeit, it’s also 24/7.)

Choosing Hosting Is Tricky

It is hard finding the best website hosting. And it’s complicated by the fact that a huge company called EIG (Endurance International Group) has hoovered up very many of the web hosts around and made a speciality out of:

  • Shoehorning as many users as possible onto each server (thus reducing quality), and:
  • Paying really high commissions to affiliates to encourage them to sell the low quality service.

This is how Hostgator, Bluehost, and Justhost have become so big – when their quality of service doesn’t deserve it.

So be careful when choosing your web host – and seriously consider the hosts I listed above, who provide a much better service and don’t tempt affiliates with super-high commissions.

So, What is Website Hosting?

You asked “what is website hosting?” And I may have given you a longer answer than you anticipated! It’s because there is a lot to know about hosting and you need to take great care if you want to end up with a quality package. This article should help you to make a more informed choice.

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  • Alex

    Hello Malc,

    As always another excellent article to read.Thank you.

    Due to its particular speciality for WordPress,would you recommend WPEngine as a suitable consideration ?

    Regards,

    Alex.

    • Hi Alex – I am glad you like the article. I’ve got a few
      more planned around the topic of website hosting so keep your eyes peeled!

      I was feeling favourably towards WPEngine when I decided on
      my recommended hosting companies in this post:

      http://heymalc.com/heymalcs-best-internet-marketing-tools#website-hosting

      But I may be changing that recommendation. A friend had some
      problems with WP engine so did some stress tests. Some it failed badly, and
      others it passed brilliantly. The friend was in Las Vegas last week at the
      Affiliate Summit and, apparently, grilled WP engine mercilessly (knowing him,
      he probably did) and they promised to look into is issues.

      On the face of it, you’d think a host optimised for
      WordPress would work very well for WordPress sites. Or, at least you’d hope so.

      Keep an eye on that post quoted above – if they don’t sort
      things out for my friend in the next, say, three weeks then I’ll be changing my
      recommendation.

      All the best, Malc

  • rob_vb

    Malc,

    Thanks for this. I am currently with a service promoted on the Warrior’s Forum. But their down time is just under atrocious so I am on the hunt for a quality and reasonably priced hosting service for a one man shop entrepreneur like I am.

    I have always avoided Hostgator as I believe they are over hyped and overpriced and are promoted so much because affiliates wants to make money. The three options you provide I have not heard of and appreciate that you did some soft due diligence on them as quality hosting services. Although I understand I am solely responsible for my hosting choice.

    • Hi Rob – well, I’m with Bluehost but not for much longer! Their downtime has been pants for me over the last two weeks and I only checked it because my slow page load time – on investigating which, I learned that they can choose to throttle sites (slow down their access time) at will. And without telling you.

      I acknowledge that they have to have protection in place. But if I am hogging resources (the supposed reason for throttling) I can’t identify why. And secondly a warning email would have been appropriate 😐

      Those three options I give do attract good feedback from users and are not owned by EIG, which is generally a good thing!

      Keep an eye open for my comparative testing on web hosts which will include one or all of these three. I plan to make copies of the HeyMalc blog on three hosts and then stress test them all. The best one will get my business!

      BTW, if you need to move in a hurry, think about Stablehost where I can get you 40% discount off your first month, year or even three year payment by using the coupon 40%DISCOUNT, available if you use my link:
      http://heymalc.com/likes/Stablehost

      (BTW, they pay me $20 or $25 one-off referral fee if you use my link – not the hundreds that HG can manage to pay.)

      Good luck with everything and thanks so much for commenting. It’s nice to know you’re reading 😉

      Malc

      • rob_vb

        Hello Malc,

        As an update, I have not moved to another host yet because I have put all but one opportunity on the back burner. I believe its one of the greater opportunities to come along in years. No, its not a network marketing model that almost always claims “the opportunity of the century” every day of the week. 🙂

        However, the hosting platform this service runs on has experienced shut downs twice in less than a month. Three guesses who this service is? Yep, Hostgator.

        The creator of the service that will be out of beta in about a month is finally concerned enough to look around for a replacement or at least a back up to Hostgator to suit current and future growth needs. He’s been loyal to HG because he likes their support response to him whenever there are problems. But this was when he was working as a solopreneur. Now with hundreds of selling partners depending on him to provide superior support when we start marketing for clients, he realizes we or future customers won’t gladly tolerate frequent down time issues no matter whose fault it is.

        Malc, would you kindly recommend a hosting service that can easily handle Enterprise level dedicated servers needs with a history of few up time problems? Of course, feel free to offer a link that will pay you a referral fee if after vetting, the creator decides to go with them.

        If not here, you can reach me at: customtrafficondemand@gmail.com

        Thanks much Malc. 🙂

        Robert

        • Hi Rob – I have changed to Terry Kyle’s hosting at TrafficPlanetHosting.com. The jury’s out, but I know Terry and he’s a good guy and very, very experienced. So deffo worth checking out.

          Cheers, Malc

          • rob_vb

            Got your recommendation and sent it off. Thanks so much Malc. 🙂

          • Pleasure mate. They definitely have very fast servers there 🙂

  • Mark

    Did not realise the ramifications of that “unlimited data” thing. I just thought that was good, but now I think it’s a bit of a scam.

    Thanks for opening my eyes to that one Malc.

    Mark

    • Hi Mark – yes, “Unlimited data” sounds really cool doesn’t it! But really it is: “Unlimited data as long as you don’t use more than we allow you to”. LOL

      Whichever host you are using, it’s really important once you get any amount of traffic to do some benchmarking and find out how long your pages are taking to load – in different parts of the world. It’s also important to check your error logs – there are several of these in your cPanel account – and you can glean much information from these. For example, you can see where some of your plug-ins are producing repeated errors which might easily be slowing things down.

      Take it easy!

      Malc

      • Anne

        I gave up on Hostgator quickly because every time I tried to log in I had to reset my password! I have had 1 site on IPowerweb for years. They are very good when it comes to renewal if you say it’s too much you get a better offer! They have live chat though the expertise is limited. But e-mail requests have a quick return. Just one problem, they use V Deck which I feel is far more useful than C Panel. No, I’m not an affiliate, these are my personal findings!

        • Hi Anne and Happy New Year! Yes, it really matters when you have a busy website. Then a day of downtime could be expensive for you. If you don’t have much traffic then might as well stay where it’s cheap. But as you grow you’ll want better service, meaning fast servers and someone who knows their stuff at the end of a phone line or a chat box.

          I’m still with Traffic Planet and very happy with both those aspects. Cheers for now, Malc

  • Great article Malcom and very, very true… it is getting harder and harder to find a reputable, dependable and decently priced hosting company that doesn’t jam you on to the same server as 420 other websites, one or more of them having a spammer trying to disperse 1,000’s of promotional email thru their server and which then “damns” all the other sites on that server in to “blacklisted hell”. I use a number of hosts just so I have a bit of latitude when it comes to needing to move or shift some of the pressure of a busy site. What are your thoughts on some of the the “made for Internet Marketers” hosting companies like Insty.me and GVO?
    Daryl

    • Hi Daryl – I know just what you mean!

      I am about to jump ship on Bluehost, where I am currently hosted, because they have throttled my blog for goodness knows what reason. Until two weeks ago I didn’t even realise they did throttle people (reduce their bandwidth).

      So I am researching forum wide to find decent hosts and I’ve put a few of them here in my “Internet Marketing Tools” post:

      http://heymalc.com/heymalcs-best-internet-marketing-tools#website-hosting

      I am thinking of getting three different hosting accounts for one month, installing copies of HeyMalc on each one, and then doing a load of stress testing to see which one gives me the best result.

      It’s a mire out there – but I think as far as hosting goes if you avoid EIG companies it’s a good start.

      GVO – personally, I wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole! I don’t like the multilevel marketing structure they have. MLM always involves products with very high margins and for me that’s too similar to the Hostgator model. (Which is why Hostgator can afford to pay such high commissions to affiliates.)

      I don’t know Insty.me.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Malc

  • Alex

    Hello Malc,
    As always another excellent article to read.Thank you.
    Due to its particular speciality for WordPress,would you recommend WPEngine as a suitable consideration ?

    Regards,

    Alex.

    • Hi Alex – I am glad you like the article. I’ve got a few more planned around the topic of website hosting so keep your eyes peeled!

      I was feeling favourably towards WPEngine when I decided on my recommended hosting companies in this post:
      http://heymalc.com/heymalcs-best-internet-marketing-tools#website-hosting

      But I may be changing that recommendation. A friend had some problems with WP engine so did some stress tests. Some it failed badly, and others it passed brilliantly. The friend was in Las Vegas last week at the Affiliate Summit and, apparently, grilled WP engine mercilessly (knowing him, he probably did) and they promised to look into is issues.

      On the face of it, you’d think a host optimised for WordPress would work very well for WordPress sites. Or, at least you’d hope so.

      Keep an eye on that post quoted above – if they don’t sort things out for my friend in the next, say, three weeks then I’ll be changing my recommendation.

      All the best, Malc

  • Thankyou Malcolm for the well written post.

    I was not aware of those hosting companies and for that I thank you again.

    All the best

    Ian

    • Hi Ian – I am glad you found the post useful.

      It appears most hosting companies are shabby including the best-known ones! And they are only well-known because they pay massive commissions to affiliates. So, of course, there are lots of affiliate’s recommending these hosts.

      In fact, I have in the past, but no longer now I know what goes on behind the scenes.

      All the best, Malc

  • Hi,

    I totally agree with this! I’ve used Hostgator for years, recently ‘upgraded’ from Baby plan to reseller (following the live chat operators exact instructions) only to find that I was now paying for two lots of hosting and that my websites were not migrated across as promised – it’s taken two months and over 4 hours talking to them to get it even semi resolved. As for trying to get a refund – forget it!

    So may I ask who you use, or would recommend if someone had say 4 main sites? Is it better to have each one on different hosting? I am slightly confused now as originally Hostgator said reseller account meant each site had it’s own separate IP address and now they say it “might!’

    All advice great fully received!

    Really loving the clean style of your website by the way! 🙂

    Have a great day, and thanks for the helpful post!

    Shell

    • Hi Shell – here are my recommended hosts:
      http://heymalc.com/heymalcs-best-internet-marketing-tools#website-hosting

      I will be keeping this up-to-date especially over the next month or so when I finally decide (after much research) which host to take HeyMalc to.

      Sorry about the problems you are having with Hostgator. Many people have been complaining about them over the past year in forums and Facebook groups I’m in, and it’s obviously since they were taken over by EIG and are reorganising.

      You have four main sites? One thing you might like to do is get the basic Stablehost enterprise package which is $20 a month. You get 99.99% promised uptime. And only hundred users per server (which is a small number).

      http://www.stablehost.com/enterprise-hosting.php

      They allow unlimited sites so forward be fine. And you get cPanel.

      You definitely don’t need more than one hosting account unless one of your sites is really massive or you have SEO concerns. In other words, if you wanted sometimes to backlink from one of those sites to the other for SEO benefit you wouldn’t want them to be on the same server.

      Thanks for the compliments on the site design. I’m still working on it whenever I get a chance. I need to tidy up the menu and category structure, and redesign that horrid sign up box some old posts that are out of date following which I can add a search box.

      So much to do!

      Cheers, Malc

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