If you read our article Step 1 – Buying a Domain, you will now be ready to purchase some web space. Prices vary from web host to web host and depending on your needs, depends on what costs you are looking at.
For these articles we are assuming that all you would be looking for is web space to host a small to medium site, running WordPress, which doesn’t require too many advanced features.
As a quick side note, many web hosts do offer domain registration when you purchase web space. While most are reputable, I have always preferred to register a domain with a different company than my web host, because if anything goes wrong with your web host, such as a dispute, you can at least transfer your domain away to a new host, that way you will always have control over your domain name.
If you are having a dispute over a domain name or wish to know more about your rights when you purchase a domain name, you can visit, http://www.nominet.org.uk/. Nominet provide support and protection to .uk domain names and can be very helpful in resolving Domain Disputes through their Dispute Resolution Service: http://www.nominet.org.uk/disputes/drs/ (more will be covered about Nominet in a future post)
Shared Hosting or Dedicated Hosting
Shared hosting will provide you with your own web space but you will be sharing a server with a number of different web site owners. There are some disadvantages to this which include:
- If the web host company is out for a quick buck, they may then oversell beyond the servers capacity, causing a slow responsive server, and worst case down time of your site.
- If someone is running a malicious site on the server, it may get blacklisted or blocked and anyone that shares this server will also be blacklisted or blocked.
- If someone is running memory intensive scripts on the site it could disrupt the speed of your site, however, most reputable Host companies monitor their shared servers to stop this from happening, and if someone is a repeat offender they are usually removed from the server.
These are just issues to be aware of but a reputable and good web host company will be monitoring accounts to try and prevent their clients from having these issues, or even be aware of these issues.
Dedicated hosting gives you complete control over your server, but it is only beneficial (in my opinion) if you have some technical knowledge of server maintenance and management to take advantage of the extra freedom and features available. The only drawback is the cost which is only justifiable if you are planning to run a large content site which sells services online (e-commerce, directories, web hosting reseller, large video content site, etc.)
For small to medium websites, business or personal, I recommend shared web hosting, and more so if you only have a small budget for your web hosting needs.
Apache Linux or Microsoft
All servers are managed by Server software, the most popular being Apache Linux which is released as Open Source. One of these will already be installed on the server, so should you go with a Linux server or Microsoft server. Personally I would go with a Linux server, it is the most widely used and most Open Source scripts are designed to work with Linux servers. Microsoft servers can be costly due to the license fee required by Microsoft, Linux is free and is generally more secure.
Since this article and the related articles are concerned with how to get your own web site utilising WordPress you would be best getting a Linux server as WordPress utilises PHP scripting, which is a native coding language for Linux.
If you want to learn more about Microsoft and Linux servers, advantages and disadvantages, you can visit: http://www.serverschool.com/operating-systems/windows-server-hosting-vs-linux-server-hosting/ and http://www.selfseo.com/story-19657.php for further information.
Limited or Unlimited Bandwidth
Some web hosts will offer unlimited bandwidth, others will provide a limited monthly amount. If you go for limited bandwidth, once that limit is reached, your site will either go offline until the start of the next month, or you will have to pay extra.
A site can exceed its bandwidth allocation, if it is media heavy, or very popular, but if you only want a small site with some text and a few images, then limited bandwidth may be the cheapest option. Personally I prefer Unlimited Bandwidth and if you are wanting a website that will grow larger and more popular, you wont be hit by extra charges for the growth of your site.
How much webspace will I need?
If your site is going to be small, just a few pages with images, then 100Mb of space will be fine. I would personally go for a host that offers unlimited space, this way if you decide to grow your site into something bigger at a later date, you wont be restricted by space.
To run WordPress or any other Open Source scripts on your site you will need MySQL which is database software that integrates with your site. For instance, whenever anyone looks at this site, their browser will send a request to the server, this request is then processed by the server that send a request to the MySQL database for the information, if the requested information is available, the MySQL database sends the information back to the server, the server will then process that information and send it the browser of the end user in a viewable format.
MySQL is a requirement to run most Open Source scripts, most web hosts will include this in their hosting packages, but always check first.
Although there is many features with different hosting packages, one feature worth mentioning is Fantastico, which will install scripts and set up your databases automatically for your server, which is ideal for complete beginners. This is not always available on servers, but isn’t really required if you do not mind manually installing scripts on your server. Manually installing scripts can be tricky but it can also be very simple, it just depends on what Open Source script you have chosen to power your website. We will cover this in a later article.
So if you want a website for personal use or business use, small to medium in size, with the capacity of a few hundred visitors per day, that utilises WordPress to manage your site, I recommend the following requirements:
- Shared Web Hosting
- Linux Server
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Web Space
So where can I buy web space and how do I know they are reputable?
Finding a web host can be a minefield especially if you do not know the technical in and outs, and from personal experience I have tried a few and have some nightmare stories I can tell. Currently, I use www.hostpapa.co.uk and so far the experience has been good and is a good starting place for anyone considering their own web space, but as with everything, do your research first.
Search Google or another Search Engine for web hosting or web hosts, etc. and you will find a few, but do not sign up to the first one you find, compare prices and feature and narrow it down to 2 or 3 providers.
Secondly, after narrowing it down, do another search in Google, but this time add the term “legal” to your search, for example “hostpapa.co.uk, legal”. Then look through the reviews and forums, which will give you a better insight into the company.
One company to avoid is streamline.net, repeat the above search as “streamline.net, legal”, and you will see why, and from personal experience, I can vouch to their bad business practices which borders on fraudulent behavior, but that is another post.
Lastly, check their terms and conditions, privacy statement, and the contract you are agreeing to, if there is anything you don’t like, do not sign up, there is plenty others offering decent web hosting.