Many individuals and organisations have created websites and web-apps for various reasons and purposes. But after completion of the development process, there comes a time when the website or web-app needs to go live on the internet.
This normally requires the use of a web hosting service or platform if one is not willing to pay for and manually configure their own server hardware and software.
This publication will avoid common 'trendy' platforms and mainly focus on the good old "find a web-hosting company, pay for servers (and other resources such as storage space and bandwidth), and let the web-hosting company handle the servers themselves while you focus on creating the website or web-app" scenario.
Note that many new and advanced ways exist and that you can also own and host using your own personal servers. But out of personal experiences, using an actual hosting company is cheaper and requires less manual setup work, making it much more user-friendly and perfect for beginners.
Important warning, do not use personal servers if you cannot guarantee the security of the servers themselves. It is always better to have a dedicated and experienced individual or company handle the security of your products or services.
What is web hosting?
Web hosting is the act or service of providing storage space and other resources so as to make a website (or web application) accessible.
Put simply, you need computing and networking resources (for example storage space, processing, bandwidth, stable internet connection, and many more) for your web project to be available and accessible among other users on the internet. These resources and services can be provided by experienced professionals and business that can handle all the requirements for your web project to work properly on the internet. Therefore you may need to pay for web hosting services and other related components such as a domain name.
After purchasing a web-hosting service, you can link the files being hosted to a domain name so that other users discover those files by using the domain name and related urls.
A domain name is a unique address people can use to access your website, for example yahoo.com or example.org. They can be rented for a year (rented, meaning you will have to pay every year) for as many years as you want. Check with a domain registrar to find out if the domain name you want is available, if available, make the initial payment and be sure to renew every after one year so as to avoid losing it to another interested buyer. You can buy as many domain names as you want and even re-sell domain names to other interested buyers. However you should carefully consider the financial costs involved.
How to find a good web-host? (What to look for when choosing a web-host?)
This is the most important step during the publication or release of your web project. When it's time to go live, you need to be sure that you can trust your web-hosting providers unless you are doing the hosting yourself with your own servers.
The reason for this is simple, if your web-hosting providers leave you to figure everything out on your own, you will face much more difficulty, and possibly make terrible mistakes when interacting with the servers and your own project.
For example without human-to-human support (feeedback) from the service providers, you might not know; where error logs are written, how to upload your project files onto the server, how to implement special programs like url rewriting and redirecting, how to access databases, the server's file and data upload limits, and many more issues all because of lack of human feedback and assitance.
With that said, one of the most important characteristics of a good web hosting provider is the amount of user feedback and customer care support given especially to new users.
Apart from user support feedback, other important factors may include;
The amount of time the web-hosting provider has lasted in the business (companies that have lasted for long may be more stable and experienced)
The amount of data centers and employees available to the web hosting provider
The pricing, of course, of the various products and services offered by the web hosting provider
The supported coutries and payment methods (avoid weird payments like Crypto, you'd rather use direct prices in your local currency for easy accounting)
Whether domains, storage, SSL certificates, and other resources are easy to acquire and configure. If possible, at no extra cost
And many more other factors (this list will be updated in the near future)...
Please note that for all the above points, the best way of rating a company is by reading reviews from other users of that company's products and services. Be sure to look out for any criticisms on the company's user support feedback, with poor support, you are guaranteed to struggle with the company.
Otherwise be sure to do heavy online searching for any company you plan to work with. Consider using search terms such as "Company-name is a scam" so as to view as many criticisms as possible which will help you make better choices and avoid dissapointments.
Also remeber that "cheaper" is not always better. So getting free hosting may not be a guarantee of good hosting.
Why pay for web hosting?
Paid (premium) web hosting can be of great value to your web project as it comes with extra useful services and support from your web-hosting provider. This is an adavatage compared to free web hosting, which may be affected by intrusive advertisements, downtimes (being offline), and unnecessary file restrictions, limited resources (like low storage capacity), and many others.
Some of the advantages of paid (premium) web hosting may include;
User support and feedback:
The biggest, and most important, advantage of premium services is that you get priority from the company's support staff (assuming they care for the customers and would not like to lose any) which means that you get active support concerning any issues that you may face.
This means you will be guided when setting up your server and using other features provided by the company. Less stress and more productivity.
Proper domain name or url link:
The url link to your website or web-app is much more pleasant (shorter and organized) to look at and use especially if you purchase a domain name to use with your project. This makes your website or web-app look much more professional to other users.
Downtime refers to a period of time when the services offered are offline. With paid (premium) web hosting, the company is much more likely to prevent or reduce downtime as much as possible so as not to lose customers or credibility.
This means your web project will be less affected by the effects of downtime, thus your users will have better access.
Free perks for example SSL certificates:
After subscribing to a service, most web hosting companies include extra features at no extra charge such as free SSL certificates, free storage space, discounts, and many more.
As compared to doing everything on your own, or trusting free providers, paying for a web hosting package implies that the company uses its own resources to safegaurd the service being provided to you. This means our web project is automatically protected while being provided to you and other users.
As compared to free service providers, premium service providers let you access as many resources as you have paid for while providing a much higher quality service.
No forced ads:
Many free service providers depend on ads (advertisements) to monetize the "free" service which ads may in-turn affect your web project(s) usability or even drive away users. This is rarely the case with premium service providers.
Companies with good user support and feedback tend to offer free suggestions on how to better use their products and services. For example how to better implement SSL certificates, how to use error logs, and many other useful tips which improve productivity.
Custom mail boxes:
If you purchase a domain name, you get to setup your own email addresses and have more professional emails for example firstname.lastname@example.org like our very own email@example.com. These emails look more professional when presented to clients.
You get to have your own server space and can then upload files onto the server to share with other viewers. This is important especially for developers who want to try out personal projects online and not in localhost.
Those are just some of the reasons, many other reasons (which may be added to the list in the future) exist as to why you should consider paid (premium) web hosting as compared to free offers. Of course it is very important to spen within your limits as it is not wise to pay for services without reason.
Prices and costs of web hosting?
This section will depend on what you actually need and the costs set by the service provider. But a simple estimate may be as follows;
Domain names: If you need a domain name, something like example.com (notice that we don't include "www." as that is actually a sub-domain), the domain name will be paid for annually (every year) and must be renewed in time so as not to be taken by another user or organisation.
Please note that the price of the domain name mainly depends on the top-level-domain (like .com, .io, .org, .gov) with ".com" being the most commonly used by commercial projects. This will cost you about $14 (14 US-dollars) every year.
Also note that many good domain names were already claimed, as in already purchased. Therefore perform a search for available domain names before setting up your mind onto one. Similarly if you purchase a domain name, it will no longer be available for others to purchase until you stop paying the annual (renewal) fee for it in which case it goes back into public domain and can be taken up by others.
Ensure to pay your domain annual renewal fees on time as the cost of renewal is reasonably less than the cost of purchasing a new domain especially if the domain has already been purchased by another entity.
Monthly hosting fees: These will depend on the fees set by your service provider, and will also greatly depend on your choice between shared or dedicated web hosting. Prices vary, might be $3 or $7 or even more than $100 a month depending on what you resources (for example bandwidth, cpu/processing/cores, memory, etc) are required. These resources are usually classified in the form of "packages" with low-end and high-end web hosting packages available for the user to purchase. You are also advised to select automatic billing when paying for a hosting package to avoid unexpected shutdowns when you forget to manually renew your purchased hosting package.
Storage capacity: Sometimes storage capacity is sold separately from other web hosting reources or packages. Therefore allowing you to have high amounts of storage space on a low end hosting package. If this is the case, you have the option to buy as more storage capacity as you require. If your project supports user uploads, you are advised to predict and have enough storage capacity than required by your users.
Those are just some examples of what you will be required to pay for. When in doubt, contact the customer care (support) of your web hosting provider for more information.
Paying for servers or web hosting packages with various resources is not always suitable in some cases. For example;
If you have a class project and only need something to be submitted. There is no need to pay for an entire web hosting package.
If you are teaching web-dev students and you need them to upload websites online (or test something online), and there is no need for every student to pay for a web hosting package.
Organisations, especially schools, that need free or cheap hosting for every individual student or employee.
Sending a preview file to your client, or boss, or work mates.
In all the above cases (and many more), there is no need to register for an entire web hosting package with various resources. This is because in most cases, all one needs is to view
a web project. That is what we are here for.
Upload your web project and get a web link to it. This could be a css, js, png, jpg, txt, or even an entire (HTML) website. Just upload the project and get a web url link to it. And use the link to access, view, or share the project. Its that simple.
Visit our homepage
for more information and feel free to contact us using our support email (firstname.lastname@example.org
) with any questions that you may have.
Have a great day and thanks for your attention. Cheers.