What is website hosting?
"Hosting - somewhere to place your website"
A web site needs to be placed on a server that is permanently connected to the internet and accessible so that visitors can surf your website. Typically this done by a specialist company running a large number of servers with high speed connections to the internet hosting thousands of web sites. They will handle the maintenance, management and security of the servers and connections to the internet.
We do not provide website hosting on our own servers, we use third party large established hosting companies.
Hosting contracts are often annual contracts and can be paid annually in advance or sometimes quarterly or monthly.
Hosting is a very competitive business with small profit margins - as a result support can leave a lot to be desired.
We can usually work with an existing hosting arrangement provided I can be given ftp access (this is host, user and password).
Website Hosting Options
Website hosting comes in 2 forms and on 2 platforms (operating systems).
- Shared or
- dedicated hosting on
- unix (linux) or
- windows servers.
The standard options are to share the use of a server with many other web sites or have a server dedicated to your website.
1. Shared server
"Shared servers suit most small websites."
Space on a large shared server shared with many other websites. The vast majority of websites are hosted on shared servers and this is the preferred option of most websites. Access to the shared server is restricted to ftp access only. A variety of extras such as email and web statistics often come bundled or are add on options with a shared hosting package.
- a straight-forward web site which is not mission critical
- small companies where economy is more important than performance or security
Shared hosting packages are available for almost nothing for domestic use. Packages suitable for small business websites are usually available from around £10 per month.
2. Dedicated server (exclusive use)
A dedicated server for the exclusive use of your websites. Full control of the server is usually provided via a remote access consol as well as ftp access. Email will not normally be provided.
Suitable if you:
- have a high reliability requirement
- are expecting a high level of traffic, or
- high processor intensive applications such as significant database searches or circulation list processing
- have a portfolio of sites
- require the extra level of security provided by dedicated servers
Dedicated hosting packages vary greatly in price and this market has changed radically in the last couple of years. Not so long ago entry prices were £250 per month, now you can get a server from around £60 per month from some suppliers.
Windows or Unix (linux) server
Windows or Linux hosting - does it matter?"
The main difference between these platforms is the programming languages used for building applications and running websites.
So it can be that your website has been written for a windows platform or unix platform specifically and will not work on the other. Or it may work on either if it is straight forward.
Web designers often specialise in one platform or the other. We can work with either.
Other Hosting Considerations:
Email provisions are normally bundled with Shared servers (although these may be limited to email forwarding only on very cheap hosting packages) but not with Dedicated servers. Typically larger businesses make separate arrangements for their email requirements. The same domain name can usually be used for both your web site and email.
Email comes in 2 parts: POP (or POP3) which is email delivery and SMTP which is sending email. So you collect you email from a POP box and you send your email through a SMTP service. Basic email services just provide you with POP (or just email forwarding to another email adress) and you have to send email via another route such as your ISP.
Bandwidth and Discspace:
Bandwidth refers to the accumulated traffic to your website over a month. A monthly allowance will be included within the hosting contract. However a very busy website (or a website containing large files for downloading) may require more than the allowance included and therefore incur additional charges on a metered basis.
A fixed amount of discspace will be included in the hosting package. Should your website need more there is likely to be an additional charge.
"How many people visit my website each month?"
Statistics of visits to your website are usually available as part of a hosting package or provided as an optional extra. These are very useful for monitoring visitor numbers and helping with search engine optimisation projects.
There are usually far more statistics provided than most people ever want to see but looked at selectively they can be very interesting and allow you to make judgements on the effectiveness of your web site investment.
Who should manage the hosting package?
Some of our clients prefer us to buy and manage the hosting on their behalf. Others, having had bad experiences when they have tried to change web designers and found they cannot get access to their website hosting and domain names - so they prefer to organise the hosting account themselves and allow us access to it to manage the website.
We are happy to work either way.
We promise not to provide any hinderance to you should you wish to move to another web designer and will do all we can to ensure the handover is smooth.
In certain cases it may be necessary to move your website to an alternative hosting arrangement (for example - websites hosted on shared servers through a reseller account or websites hosted on a dedicated server shared with my other clients). If you have exclusive use of a dedicated server or your own shared hosting arrangement it is likely that the hosting arrangement can just be passed on to another web designer.
Get your own hosting arrangement
You could source your own hosting at HeartInternet. They are very competitive and provide a large range of extras with many of their shared hosting packages.
Michael Spencer, Managing Director.
Epsilis - Website Designers
47 Farthing Drive
Letchworth Garden City