Own a small business? Then you need to have a website. For the sake of credibility, professionalism, attracting new customers, showcasing products and services, and helping people find your location more easily, a website is absolutely essential — and these days, building and maintaining a website is easier, more affordable, and more accessible to beginners than ever before.
This is thanks in no small part to something called web hosting.
Web hosting is the backbone of the internet. Without a host to provide server space, configurations, bandwidth, and software, you would not be able to get your shiny new website online.
If you are a beginner, you might already be a little confused. And as a small business owner, you already have a lot on your plate just operating your business. So read on to discover the essential information on web-hosting that you need to know right now, such as what it is, why you need it, and how to choose the right web hosting service for your needs.
What is Web Hosting?
To put it simply, a website is made up of elements like text, images, videos, buttons, links, and behind-the-scenes things like programming language (don’t worry — there are plenty of templatized website-building platforms out there, which means you won’t have to worry about that part).
All of those files, databases, and other pieces of information that make up your website need to live somewhere, and get served up as quickly as possible to visitors to access your website through a browser. A web host is simply a service that provides a physical place to store your website (hardware), and the necessary computer programs (software) required for people to access it on the internet.
There are a few different types of web hosting, such as:
- Shared hosting, which allows many websites to share one server. This is the most popular and easiest form of web hosting, as well as the most economical because this setup scales the cost of website maintenance across many customers
- Virtual Private Servers (VPSs), in which your website still shares a physical server with other sites, but software configurations insulate each site from the others by means of its own operating system. Functionally, if not physically, this is equivalent to a private server in many respects, however, because a VPS still shares the physical resources, performance will be lower than on a private server.
- Dedicated hosting, which gives your website its own entire physical server all to itself. While this may be overkill for many small business needs, if you want to prioritize speed, space, and security above all else, this is your best choice.
- Cloud hosting, which relies on cloud computing, or a network of physically-remote servers working together as a digital ecosystem that shares the load of storing your website (basically, cloud computing is just the internet).
For a deeper dive into the different types of web hosting, take a look at our previous blog entry, here.
Why Do I Need Web Hosting?
On a fundamental level, all web hosting really boils down to is space on a server, which is basically a computer, to store things. So you might be wondering why, if that is so, you can’t just save the money and store your website on your own computer.
Well, you could…technically. But, unless you’re experienced in this area (and if you are, why are you reading this article?), it’s probably a bad idea.
When you host your website, you have no support. That means any power outages or maintenance are your problems, and if your website crashes for any reason, it’s up to you to get it back up and running. This can lead to loss of income, angry customers, and damage to your business and reputation.
You’ll also need to maintain a server, which means purchasing hardware with the right processing speed and RAM to run all day, every day, as well as installing the right operating system and keeping on top of frequent software updates. Furthermore, your home internet probably isn’t fast enough for the job, your IP address is not stable, it’s more expensive than you think it will be, and your home internet is probably not as secure as you think it is.
For all of these reasons and more, it’s highly worthwhile to outsource your web hosting to a professional service that handles these factors and issues all day, every day. It’s worth the investment and will save you money over time.
How Do I Choose a Web Host?
There are a lot of considerations to keep in mind when selecting a web host for your site. You need to know about their terms of service, storage space, customer service and support, and more. When you're considering these features, think about your needs — what do you want your host to offer? All hosts are not created equal, so investigate thoroughly before making your decision.
Some questions to ask yourself as you shop around:
- How much web traffic do you expect? (Be honest!) This will impact how much bandwidth you need.
- What type of server is best for you? (Refer to the earlier section of this article.)
- Is the hosting service reputable?
- Will you be able to own your own domain name?
Sound like a lot to think about? It is — but it’s important for the success of your business, and your customers won’t wait.
Vervology can help. Our services include web hosting and management, which means we take this all off your plate and let you get back to doing what you do best: running your business.
Vervology will not only host, monitor, and maintain your website, audit its performance, security, accessibility, and SEO to minimize risk and maximize growth. Additionally, we will perform regular software updates and security patches, as well as manage content edits and change requests to keep your website relevant and up-to-date.
Take a look at Vervology's website hosting and management insights to learn more, and reach out today to start the conversation.