Without web hosting you would not have a website, web hosting is simply where the files/content of your website are held in order for it to be visible online.
These files are stored on a remote computer/server which is known as a host.
How a website is shown on a web browser, including layout, speed of the website etc all depend on the hosting company.
The different types of hosting
Shared hosting means that multiple websites files will be hosted on the same server in the same location. This is done because there is more than enough space to accommodate multiple websites.
Dedicated web hosting
Dedicated hosting means that you are using an entire computer/server for your website alone. Nobody elses website files will be hosted there. Having a dedicated server is a lot faster and more secure. Dedicated servers are mainly used for larger websites, especially when there will be a ton of traffic coming through to the website as well as if you are hosting an online store that may be larger than a normal website and will need to run faster and better so you don’t lose potential sales.
Cloud hosting is a virtual server, this is not a physical computer. If one fails there is always another one to take its place, meaning it is more reliable and has almost no down time.
Things to look out for when looking a hosting company.
How much down time will there be?
Down time means that your website will be offline and not up and running. Down time can occur for many reasons, some scheduled (when the hosting company does server maintenance) or unscheduled if the server may crash due to various reasons. When your site is down users will not be able to visit your website, so it is therefore important that your hosting company has as little down time as possible.
Are emails included in my web hosting?
Having email addresses associated with your domain is a lot more professional to users than having Gmail or Hotmail addresses. Good hosting packages normally include emails and email management.
Does the hosting company offer support?
Having good support is vital, also looking at when it is available is also important. It is also important to look at how the support is offered, is it via phone, email or ticket system. If there is a problem you want to know that you will receive the support when you need it and not have to wait days to receive feedback.
Does the hosting company make backups?
If there were to ever be an issue, for whatever reason, with your website you may need to roll it back, therefore a backup would be vital. If they do make backups is it done on a regular basis? Most good hosting companies do include this.
Need to scale up?
If you have a website that needs more space or more capacity to handle more traffic would your hosting company be able to accommodate this?
Importance of Reputation
When looking for a hosting company, look at what their reputation is like, do they have good reviews, who are some of their clients and how long have they been in business for.