What is Web Hosting? Web hosting is the service that makes it possible for your website to be accessible to others via the World Wide Web. A Web Host is where your website lives.
There are many options for where to host your website and checking them out can be confusing. I have tried several and have found that what matters most to me are:
- Reliability, including “up time”, speed and security
- Customer service
- A good record with WordPress, the free content software I recommend using.
Of course, cost matters as well, but saving a little money is not worth a tradeoff of these critical requirements. If you need specific features, look for those, but most of the major services are feature-rich—most users will need only a fraction of the capacity offered.
Web Hosting Recommendations:
Disclosure: Some of the companies mentioned may provide a referral fee (at no additional cost to you) for sales made through this site, as well as specially-negotiated discounts. While no guarantees can be made here about any specific products or their suitability for your specific purposes, products and options mentioned were researched with the aim of uncovering the best and providing information on select alternatives that may be of interest.
Dreamhost: Recommended by WordPress, Dreamhost offers good value, including many features, such as free WHOIS privacy and free backups, in their hosting plans that others charge extra for. . Dreamhost offers free web hosting to non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations registered in the US. They are employee-owned and have been recognized by WorldBlu 2008-2013 as one of their “Most Democratic Workplaces”. This site is now being hosted by Dreamhost.
BlueHost: I’ve used BlueHost for several sites and, based on my experience, have naturally recommended them to others. Their customer service people have been great—this is extremely important when you have issues and questions (especially late at night). They are one of the hosts WordPress consistently recommends. First year of domain registration is included with your hosting plan. (Click here for a discounted first year rate.)
FatCow: For small businesses and individuals who value customer service, an interesting alternative is FatCow. In addition to boasting highly-rated US-based phone support, attractive rates and radiating a sense of fun (check out their “HeiferCratic Oath”), FatCow is powered 100% by wind energy.
HostGator: Another popular award-winning host. Their “Hatchling Plan” provides a relatively inexpensive way to get started. (Note: You can only host one domain/site on the Hatchling Plan. If you plan to put up additional sites, consider the “Baby Plan”.) Use coupon code IFICANYOUCAN for a 25% discount. (If I can you can)
Website Hosting Tips:
- “Unlimited sites” means that you can host multiple sites on one account and only have to pay for the additional domain names (i.e. you don’t have to pay extra to host the additional domain).
- Consider how you will back up your site. Stuff happens. Web hosts may provide a back-up service free or for an additional fee. If you have a lot of content and/or are changing it frequently, this option may provide ease and peace-of-mind. Check the fine print, though—even the best hosts don’t guarantee their backup, so if you want to be sure of backing up your site, it would be wise to supplement their backup procedure with other automatic back-up options. (See Protecting Your Site.)
- Generally, the price per month for hosting goes down as you commit to longer time periods. There is often a discount for the initial period and the price goes up when you renew your plan.
One of the first things you’ll want to do is to set up e-mail addresses using your domain name.
Most hosting accounts give you the capability of creating multiple email addresses with your domain name. To simplify things, you may want to set up “Forwarders” to forward mail from these accounts to the email address you check most regularly.
Here is an example of where you will go in BlueHost‘s control panel to set up mail (Email accounts) and forward mail (Forwarders).
Now, you’re ready to create the site using either your web host’s free software, if you want a very simple site, or the software I’ve used here and recommend, WordPress.