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All the features I've detailed to this point are valuable to the web hosting experience, but none matches the critical importance of site uptime. If your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services. It doesn't matter how great the features are, or how good it looks; if your site is down, it might as well not exist.
Yes, you can type “free website hosting” into a search engine of your choice, and you will get results. Don’t do it. At best, you will be stuck with shoddy service, semi-reliable uptime, and ridiculously short-lived storage and bandwidth capacities. The free options out there will frustrate you, and putting yourself through that makes zero sense when you can have quality hosting for as little as $2 a month.
We use this analogy on our web hosting page. Shared hosting is like an apartment building – lots of residents in the same building, sharing the same resources, but also very affordable. Dedicated servers are like having your state-of-the-art house, where you’ll pay a lot more, but you also don’t have to share the space or utilities with anyone. VPS is in the middle, like a townhouse, where you have a few residents in the same building, but you each have dedicated resources and are in full control of your home. It costs less than a dedicated server, but still gives you much of the same benefits.
It provides you with even more options, including root access, access to Apache and PHP.ini (modification of PHP variables), and much more. You can also install an SSL certificate, and all software program types. In short, you get more freedom in terms of administering and configuring your server, without the hassle of managing any physical hardware.
A web hosting account is a secure space on powerful computers (called servers) located in special buildings (datacenters) that provide consistently fast Internet connections, redundant power supply, and physical access security. Today, web hosting has evolved from being considered “just some space on a server” to being a comprehensive platform on which you can build, publish, and market your website, in addition to providing powerful collaboration tools such as email, calendars, and file sharing.
Finally, we were quite happy with their money-back guarantee. They offer a full 90-day guarantee (except for domain names you buy) and a pro-rated refund for the rest of your time. So if you want to cancel after 18 months and have six months left in your term, you'll get back the cost of the six remaining months. It's clear, it's understandable, and it's the straightforward way we'd like to see most providers use as a model.
You can also host your website on WordPress.com, but that's different from the kind of hosting mentioned above. WordPress.com uses the same code from WordPress.org, but it hides the server code and handles the hosting for you. In that sense, it resembles entries in our online site builder roundup. It's a simpler but less flexible and customizable way to approach WordPress hosting. It's definitely easier, but if you want to tinker and adjust and optimize every aspect of your site, it might not be for you.
Whether I’m geeking out with Ryan, Laura, and the team, or sketching out server diagrams to explain the basics to my grandmother, talking about a career in web hosting is always a creative endeavor, and I love it. Hopefully, this guide has cleared up some of the common confusions of hosting services, and you’re ready to sign up with the web host that best fits your upcoming site needs.
If you're just getting started in web hosting, make sure to check out our primer on how to create a website. If, on the other hand, you think you're ready to start your own web hosting company, you should check out our guide to reseller hosting. The Best Courses for Learning How to Build Websites offers terrific video instruction for people who prefer that style of learning.
A Content Distribution Network (CDN) is a network of servers distributed geographically. The purpose of a CDN is to deliver content on the internet much faster. If a user in Toronto is trying to access your website, the closest server to them will take care of this. But someone coming to your website from Sydney, Australia, will be catered to by a server closest to them. The main host server holds your website content, and all the other servers have a cached version each.
We use this analogy on our web hosting page. Shared hosting is like an apartment building – lots of residents in the same building, sharing the same resources, but also very affordable. Dedicated servers are like having your state-of-the-art house, where you’ll pay a lot more, but you also don’t have to share the space or utilities with anyone. VPS is in the middle, like a townhouse, where you have a few residents in the same building, but you each have dedicated resources and are in full control of your home. It costs less than a dedicated server, but still gives you much of the same benefits.
Once you decide you price range, you need to consider how long you'll need web hosting. If it's a short-term project—say, less than a month or two—you can typically receive a refund should you cancel your hosting within 60 days. Some companies offer 30-day money-back guarantees, others offer 90-day money-back guarantees. Once again, it's beneficial to do your homework.
A Content Distribution Network (CDN) is a network of servers distributed geographically. The purpose of a CDN is to deliver content on the internet much faster. If a user in Toronto is trying to access your website, the closest server to them will take care of this. But someone coming to your website from Sydney, Australia, will be catered to by a server closest to them. The main host server holds your website content, and all the other servers have a cached version each.
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