Think of a web host as a home where you can store your stuff. But instead of storing furniture, you store all the data necessary for the proper functioning of your site. That is to say files, images, documents, sometimes a database.
The host is therefore nothing more than a company that rents space on its servers: specialized computers for processing your data. These servers are grouped together in a data center called a datacenter. The largest hosts have several data centers in which they distribute their servers.
However, for your website to be truly online, you also need a domain name. See your domain name as your home address. It would be very difficult to find your home without an address that people could remember. This is the reason why all the hosts offer the purchase of the domain name included in their hosting offer.
Finally, although it is not essential, you will often need to communicate with your customers, or visitors to your site. Like a house, you need a mailbox to receive mail. The hosts therefore also offer, sometimes as an option, the management of your electronic mail. Of course, you can continue to communicate with your email [email protected] or @outlook.com, but it must be admitted that this is not very serious for a company.
Are there free hosts?
Yes, there are many free hosts, including hosting blogs. However, these hosts do not offer a domain name: they host you on their own domain name.
In other words, you no longer rent a house, but rather a guest room. And it is your host who issues the house rules. Beyond the brand deficit that the absence of a domain name induces, this situation is extremely risky.
Why choose a paid host?
- To stay in control
By choosing a paid host, you buy your own domain name. You are the sole owner and the host cannot in any way steal it from you.
If your host does not satisfy you, you can change it at any time, by transferring your domain name from one host to another. In short, you are independent and free.
- For more personalization
Free hosts are necessarily limited in the number of features and generally impose a specific software framework on you. Your freedom is therefore very relative. If the functionality you need has not been provided by the host, you will have no way around it.
Conversely, on paid hosting, you are free to install the applications of your choice. You can even hire a developer to create a custom application, or even an application extension tailored to your needs.
Please note that the paid nature does not in itself guarantee this freedom. There are specialized paid hosts who guide you on a specific application. The hosts that we present in our ranking are not of this category.
- To have support
Computers are made up of all kinds of problems, the famous “bugs”. Sooner or later, it is a safe bet that you will face a situation that is beyond you, even if you have skills. This is when you will probably appreciate being able to count on assistance.
All paid hosting providers offer more or less responsive and efficient support. This is a criterion not to be overlooked when choosing.
Where to start?
I suggest you start by understanding the different types of hosting and choose the one that best suits your project and your profile.
The different hosting solutions for your website
They lend you free disk space on a server to create your web pages. They earn money through advertising space on your site or through traffic on their own site (solution to remember only for a personal page).
They guarantee a quality service (bandwidth) and security (data security and the assurance of a reduced number of failures). Professional hosting is essential in the case of a company or e-commerce site; it is the only way to have your own URL address linked to your domain name.
Depending on what you want to host, from the simple web page to the high traffic e-commerce site, the characteristics and therefore the costs associated with your hosting will be very different. The main criteria to take into account to define your hosting need are:
- The current and future amount of data to be hosted, (available storage space expressed in GB)
- A good estimate of the traffic of visitors and users, (bandwidth, technical performance)
- Your need in terms of database, (the number & size of each base)
- Your database manager, (Mysql, Postgre)
- The software you need, (CMS or Erp)
- The operating system you need, (Windows or Linux)
- Your need in terms of IP addresses, (single IP address or multiple IP addresses)
- Your need in terms of messaging, (number of email address and size of each account) …
These main criteria and others like the need to have an SSL certificate are essential to check before making your choice.
Hosting on a shared server
Your website will be stored in the midst of several thousand other websites on the same server. The main advantage of pooling a server is its cost. Its disadvantage: You are not the administrator of the server; it can be annoying if you want a particular technology.
Hosting on a dedicated server or a VPS
Your site or your sites are alone on a rented or purchased server. This solution is ideal for very large sites or many small sites, its disadvantage lies in its cost, it also requires skills in server administration. The VPS server (partitioning of a server into several independent virtual servers which each have the characteristics of a dedicated server) brings an ideal compromise between the shared server and the 100% dedicated thanks to virtualization.
About the author
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