When many people decide to start a website, the website itself isn’t where they start with. Instead, they start with an idea: A story to tell, a game to play, or a product to sell. We need people with ideas in the world. But, unfortunately, not everyone with a great idea knows what it takes to build a great website. That’s why CrazyLeaf Design exists: To bring digital design into the hands of people who otherwise couldn’t do it on their own. But great design doesn’t get you anywhere if you don’t have a place to put it. That’s why it’s also important to educate yourself on web hosting.
What is web hosting?
Believe it or not, it takes a lot to make it so that the content you design can be viewed by other people on the internet. Specialized computers, called servers, store thousands of websites at a time and keep them online. They’re what makes it so that when people type an address into a URL, it delivers them to your website.
This is the crux of web hosting. Web hosting is what lets you put your content on the internet. For example, WordPress, originally created for bloggers, is one of the most common web hosting softwares available.
Does web hosting matter?
Now that you understand what web hosting is, your next question may be: does it matter? As long as your content is on the internet and people can get to it, why should you care who your host is?
The truth is that web hosting matters a lot.
As a website owner, the web host you choose will influence how easy your website is to create and maintain versus how much freedom you have to do what you want with your space.
Meanwhile, educated users can also feel the difference between different hosts, and some have a preference. You may especially feel this in online forums and RPG games, where the debate between whether ProBoards or Jcink is better has reigned for years.
What’s the best web hosting site to go through?
There are tons of web hosting services on the web. So, which one should you use?
The answer depends on a number of factors, including:
- Where you’re located
- What you’re using your website for
- How much you know about website design
For a list of the best web hosting for your country, check out Hosting Foundry.
What are the downsides to web hosting?
Any time you use a service, there are going to be downsides. One of the downsides to web hosting is that if the host you’re using goes out of business, your website disappears. Luckily, this doesn’t happen often, especially with the big name web hosts, but that is one of the reasons it’s important to use a host that you trust and that has been around for a little while. It’s also why it’s important to keep backups of your important data so that if the host goes under, you don’t lose everything.
Another downside to web hosting is that sometimes, servers have issues. DDOS attacks are a relatively common reason numerous websites might go down at the same time. If you’ve ever had a day where 3-4 of your favorite websites aren’t working even though you seem to have an internet connection and can get other websites to work, a server issue was the likely culprit.
How to handle server issues?
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about issues with servers. This is another place where trusting your web host comes in handy. Do your research about which hosts often have server outages, and, more importantly, which hosts have a history of recovering from outages well.
Of course, if your server goes out in the middle of customer interaction, your customers may become frustrated. Even though you don’t control the server, because it’s your website, customers will blame you for long website outages.
One way to handle this is to educate your customers about how servers work and direct them to your host if there’s an issue. A lot of web hosts have Twitter accounts where they’ll post real-time updates about what’s happening with their servers. If you’re dealing with a server issue, it can be helpful to post on your own Twitter page letting people know that the issue is with your web host and then directing them to the web host’s Twitter page for updates. Of course, if server issues occur frequently, it may be time to search for a new web host.
Many website owners don’t think about their web host when they’re initially looking to set up their website. But before getting too far into the process of designing your website, you should take some time to ensure you’re using a web host who will stick around and treat you well. While this takes a little more legwork up front, it will save you a lot of headaches down the road.