Every time you look up a website, your computer uses a string of numbers like 126.96.36.199 to locate it. However, we’re humans, not machines. And humans find it much easier to remember an address in the form of mywebsite.com. This easy-to-remember address is known as a domain name.
You will be asked to choose a domain name when you decide to set up your business website. This domain name is the name that people will use to find your website on the Internet. It can be your business name, for example “myfinebusiness.com,” or a description of what your business does, like “thebestservice.com.”
What is the difference between domain name and hosting?
After choosing your domain name, you will need to choose a web hosting company to host your website, known as an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or, simply, host.
Building a website is like building a house. To get started you need certain elements in order to build such as a street name, a plot of land on said street, and building materials.
In our case, the street name is your domain. It’s the address where you want your house (i.e. website) to be located.
The land where you want to put your house is your hosting. Plots of land can be sold by different companies or realtors, just like there are many companies offering hosting services.
Once you have those two elements you can then acquire your building materials, a builder, and an architect—or, in our case, a web developer and a web designer (read more about their roles in our post, Website Design Pitfalls). You can then start to build your house.
You can have more than one domain name, all of them leading to the same website. One can be your business name, while the rest can include the most important keywords for your business—what people will be searching for in Google or Bing. This will make it easier for potential customers to find you.
What services do hosting companies offer?
Literally thousands of Internet Service Providers worldwide, both big and small, offer hosting services. Prices vary immensely because packages and services can be wildly different.
The main features that make a difference include the server’s speed, the space allocated to your website, the number of email accounts, uptime (how often the server fails to deliver your website), and the security provided.
How fast is your server?
Have you ever had to quit a website because it was taking forever to download?
Studies suggest that people are prepared to wait up to four seconds for a web page to appear on their computer or phone. A website needs to be on a fast server so that it can deliver the website within that time frame.
People are bombarded by ads and promotions: if they get impatient waiting for your website to download, they may well choose to check your competitor’s website instead.
An important thing to remember is that, besides the server’s speed, the way your website has been built also plays a big part in determining its speed. A website built by professionals will be optimized for speed.
How much server space do you get?
A hosting company usually has several hard disks hosting many websites at the same time and allocating disk space to each one of them.
A website is made of files that amount to some megabytes or gigabytes. All files take space on a disk. While text files take up tiny space, video and files like PDFs can quickly gobble up your allocated space.
If a website takes up too much space, the hosting company may need to allocate a larger space on its hard disk to host it. This usually means an extra fee.
Hosting companies usually offer limited space and ask you to pay more if your website requires more space on the server.
How many email accounts do you get?
Some hosting companies give you as many email accounts as required while others limit them to a specific number.
If you have a workforce of 100 people, you will probably need at least 100 email accounts, one for each of your employees. Check beforehand how many email accounts your host allows.
How much uptime does your server have?
We think of websites being available 24/7, but accidents happen. Even huge companies like Facebook have downtime due to equipment failure or human error—in March 2019, Facebook had massive problems that lasted over 24 hours.
Hacking is another problem. Coordinated attacks known as DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks can overwhelm a server, making it impossible for users to access a website. In effect, this brings down a server.
And software updates also require reboots. During a reboot, the server will be unavailable for a few minutes—and so will your website.
While, in practice, no server can have a 100% uptime, hosts put specific measures in place to minimize downtime. Prices depend, in part, on what these are and how costly they are.
How secure is your server?
You want your website to be safe from cyber-attacks and hackers. The last thing you want is to check your website one morning and discover that it has been hacked and all the products in your e-shop have been deleted—or, even worse, that your customers’ credit card information has been stolen.
Online security is of utmost importance.
A hosting company will take several measures to make sure its servers are protected by firewalls, antivirus, and other anti-hacking software. These safety measures will stop hackers from having access to the information on the servers.
Remember that one of the most important data stored in servers is your customers’ personal information. Not only will it be bad publicity if this is stolen, it can also lead to litigation against you.
If you need to store customers’ data on your server, you need to invest in high-level data security to protect your customers’ private information.
Some hosting companies demand extra fees for extra security, so you need to confirm what your package includes.
In the case of a Google My Business Page, Google will handle your hosting, so you don’t need to worry about that.
What other services does a hosting company offer?
When choosing a hosting company, you need to ask about their client support.
Some hosting companies ask you to do the troubleshooting yourself. While they provide you with your own server and the infrastructure you need, hosting is for you to manage. In that case, you will need to hire a technician with hosting experience to manage your website.
Most of the time, though, hosting companies manage your hosting for you. You need to check whether all types of troubleshooting are covered in your package or whether you will be asked to pay a fee for customer support.
Also, do they have an online-only support service, or is there a phone number you can call if you run into trouble? Is support live or ticket-based?
Always run an online search for reviews of the support various hosting companies offer before you commit your precious website to one of them.
We would love to answer any questions you may have regarding your website’s hosting options. Contact InSync Media online or call us now on 970-901-5216 (Montrose) and 970-644-6406 (Grand Junction) and host your company with the best!