How To Host A Website Made Easy (6 Simple Steps)
Does web hosting still sound foreign to you? Does it baffle you just thinking of where to start? You’ve found the right place, buddy. Yes, you can host a website even from home, and if you’ve decided to find out how, congratulations! You are on your way to becoming a webmaster.
Put simply, a website is a collection of webpages just like the one you are staring at right now. Hosting on the other hand simply refers to where people keep their websites. By the time you reach the end of this lesson, you will understand how the whole process works and all the important elements that are involved in ensuring your website comes to life.
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So grab some popcorn and let me to take you through this awesome guide on how to host a website. To start you off, here’s what to expect:
- Step 1: How The Process Works
- Step 2: Identifying A Website That Suits You
- Step 3: Knowing The Available Hosting Technologies
- Step 4: Understanding The Types Of Hosting Available
- Step 5: How To Choose A Web Host
- Step 6: The Cost Of Setting Up A Website
Step 1: How The Process Works
First off, your website will require a name that users will type in their browser’s address bar in order to access it. In the web hosting space, we call it a domain name. It appears in the form ‘nameofsite.com’. You can buy it either from a domain name registrar or altogether with other features you need for hosting from a web host. Some of the well-known domain registrars include:
After getting your domain name, the next important thing you are going to need is web hosting. For people to access your website, it needs to be available to users at any time. So, web hosting refers to the specific server that hosts your website and at the same time the company renting out to you that server space. Best thing about web hosts is that they don’t just offer you the hosting but the entire complete package if you wish for one. This includes:
- Web hosting
- Domain name
- Several email addresses and so much more
Rather than buying a domain name separately, if you are a novice, it’s recommended that you go with the second option. Having everything done in a single setup simplifies the process. Best web hosts to watch out for in this space include:
- HostGator (Recommended)
- A2 Web Hosting
Each of these web hosts offers plans that come with their own unique set of features and so it’s up to you to make comparisons and decide which one is best for you. But if you find that to be too much work and would wish for a quick suggestion, HostGator is a choice you will never go wrong with.
Step 2: Identifying A Website That Suits You
As we stated earlier, a website is simply a collection of web pages. It could be anything from texts to videos to graphics or anything similar. And they come in different forms. First, based on the specific purpose they serve and second, based on the technology used to implement it.
So let’s check out the two categories
Types Of Websites Based On Purpose/Function
Personal Websites: Personal websites are largely associated with individuals and in many instances, the theme as well as the content mostly center around personal information. It could be a site giving out more info about you the site builder or anything close to that. If you are an artist or just anyone looking to share their works out, this is your space.
Business Websites: Unlike personal websites, business websites are built specifically for business purposes. In most cases, they are attached to an organization or other kinds of businesses. Mostly, they will be offering the company’s information or product information, marketing its products, offering help to clients, and more often than not selling the business’s services or products.
Informative Websites: This type of websites are built for no other reason than giving out info and they range from news websites to educational websites to encyclopedias to college/school websites and many other related websites.
Directories/Engine: Much as they look like a typical website, they aren’t really like the rest because they make use of the searching procedure utilized by search engines. But unlike search engines, all entries are maintained by the site owner and submitted by users based on the specific categories they belong to.
Blogs: A blog can be for personal, business, information, or all of the above! The main difference between a blog and a website is that it is frequently updating with "posts" or information articles about a topic. A blog can be part of a website or a standalone entity. If you want to learn how to start a blog click here.
Types Of Websites Based On Building Method
Static Websites: Some people refer to them as simple sites and just as the name states, they are simple to build. You will create a couple of web pages commonly known as HTML pages with the help of a software such as DreamWeaver installed in your PC. Using FTP software such as FileZilla, you will thereafter upload the pages to your web host’s server. To make any further changes to your website, you will have to do the edits on DreamWeaver and repeat the same process again.
Dynamic Websites: Rather than creating HTML pages, dynamic sites only require one to install some software commonly known as a web application on the web server. It’s with the help of this software that you will be able to edit and add various forms of multimedia content without requiring any special tools. There’s so much you can do with such software.
Have you found your category? Great. It’s important to identify a website that suits you since that will influence the kind of hosting you end up with. There’s hardly a one-size-fits-all kind of hosting so knowing which one works for you is so important as you look forward to mastering how to host your own website.
Step 3: Knowing The Available Hosting Technologies
You only have a choice of two hosting technologies to choose from:
- Linux hosting
- Windows hosting
The best thing about HTML sites is that you can host them on just about any web server but that changes when it comes to dynamic websites. Since you’ll be using web applications, you will need to find out which technology they are using.
In the case of Linux Hosting, it utilizes four main components: Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. To date, it remains one of the most used systems.
Windows hosting, on the other hand, only works best when you run web applications specifically those written in ASP. Sometimes you'll hear people referring to it as ASP hosting. For those who don’t know ASP, it’s basically Microsoft’s proprietary technology designed exclusively for web applications.
Overall, Linux hosting has an edge over Windows hosting because it’s cheaper, faster and more flexible. In addition to that, compatibility issues are at a minimum regardless of the OS you use. As a beginner, it’s best if you understand the pros and cons of both, plus other reasons why Linux hosting is better than Windows hosting and so here’s a video to help you out:
Step 4: Understanding the Types Of Hosting Available
It’s hardly a smooth experience when you set off to get yourself a web hosting plan as a beginner. Chances are high you’ll be overwhelmed by the dozens of available options and rather than bury yourself in this maze only to come out more baffled, you will want to begin by learning the different types of hosting available.
Overall, we have five main options namely:
Shared hosting is the most popular type of hosting you will come across on the web. And as much as it’s the least expensive, there’s also the flip side of it which as you can guess is the fact it’s also the least powerful. Under this plan, a person’s website shares the same server with few or hundreds or thousands of other websites.
Due to the low cost, websites that handle moderate traffic or those that run standard software will fit well this type of hosting. Other than that, it’s also a recommended entry-level hosting plan as it doesn’t require much technical knowledge.
But note that shared hosting lacks root access; its security is moderate; it’s unable to handle huge traffic or traffic spikes and more often than not, your site’s performance could be affected by that of another site.
With dedicated hosting, you have complete control over the entire server. Put simply, you will be renting an entire server and your site will be the only one dominating it. What this means is that you will be able to install any type of niche applications you prefer, tweak configuration settings, make a number of changes to the OS or language interpreters and so much more.
Speed and performance is also excellent but one thing to note about it is that it’s a little bit expensive compared to shared hosting. But if you need maximum control and superior performance this is your best bet.
With VPS hosting, a server is sectioned into virtual servers where each site is hosted like they are on their own dedicated server but still, they share a server with a couple of other users. Best thing about this kind of hosting is that users are given root access to their virtual space and are guaranteed top security.
So if you find dedicated hosting beyond your reach yet your wish is to have a hosting plan that lets you have greater control and performance, VPS hosting is your best bet. But note that they have a limited ability to take in huge traffic or traffic spikes and sometimes your site’s performance will be influenced by that of other users you share the server with.
Cloud hosting comes complete with the ability to handle huge traffic or traffic spikes. A group of servers better referred to as a cloud, join efforts to host a certain group of websites. In this way, they are able to work together in handling huge traffic or spikes from any sites.
So the important thing to note here is that with shared, VPS or dedicated hosting, you are definitely going to hit some limits if the traffic exceeds their capacity. Most sites hardly hit those limits though so the three could still be a great option for an average site but if you anticipate huge traffic for your website, then you are better off with cloud hosting.
Should you find yourself in need of VPS or dedicated hosting but unfortunately lack the technical skills required to find your way around either of them, then managed hosting will fit well into your situation.
Generally, managed hosting caters to different kinds of hosting plans and for each of those plans, the web host offers extensive technical support ranging from software installation to initial configuration to routine upgrades and monitoring. You will also come across managed hosting plans that are dedicated to WordPress hosting.
What really remains common amongst all plans is that the hosting company offers you proactive technical support.
Step 5: How To Choose A Web Host
Since you already are aware now of the hosting plans to expect, your next big step in hosting a website is deciding which web host to go for. Again, it’s easy to be overwhelmed just looking at the many web hosts available and sorting through their packages. So to make things easy for you, here’s what you should watch out for:
Prices: Price is important especially if you are just starting out. Bear in mind that there are also dozens of web hosts such as OooWeb Host, X10 Hosting, AwardSpace and many others offering free hosting meaning you don’t pay anything to host with them. But this has its own dark side too. Away from that, we have cheap hosting services and also those that are pricey. So always be on the lookout for the best mix of affordability and quality.
Other important features to put in mind in selecting a web host include:
- Customer Support – Do they offer excellent customer support?
- Hosting Features –Check out the bandwidth, web space/storage, PHP limits, CPU and other related features and find out if they are really decent.
- Control Panel – Does the host use a cPanel? The cPanel is the easiest way to manage a website.
- Uptime Guarantee – Is their uptime guarantee 99.9% going upwards?
- Do they offer any set-up assistance?
- What payment plans do they offer?
- Is there potential for scalability?
Step 6: The Cost Of Setting Up A Website
Just how much does it cost to host a website? Well, that’s a question on everyone’s mind right now and one thing to note first is that web hosting has so many options, each attracting a different set of pricing so it’s basically up to you to figure out which one works for you based on your budget.
But shared hosting is probably the cheapest of all types of web hosting and it’s a suitable option for those looking to set up a personal website or a website for their small businesses. You can get a shared hosting plan for as low as $ 3.95.
But if you anticipate huge traffic or your business size is anywhere between medium to large, dedicated or VPS hosting might be the option for you. You can pay as low as $19.95 for VPS hosting (HostGator) while for dedicated hosting, expect an average of $99/month.
Another important area is the website design. A decent pre-made theme won’t cost you anything as most of them are free but should you decide to buy one, either a customer made theme or just any other great theme, expect to fork out anything between $100-$3000. Other things you might have to pay for include professional images, graphics, and content.
As you can see, learning how to host a website from home isn’t some kind of rocket science as many of us have been made to believe; it’s easy as everything you’ve just learned today. Right from identifying a website that suits you to the hosting technologies available to the available hosting options to deciding which web host is right for you and finally the cost of setting up one.
If you want to skip all the server administration work associated with the process, you can opt for managed hosting and in this case, the most recommended option is HostGator as they have the best managed hosting service.
So with all these piles of lessons, you no longer need to beg anyone ‘teach me how to host my own website’ because all you need is right before you. Good luck as you embark on setting up your own website.