Webhosting Guide For Beginners

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Webhosting can be confusing at the beginning if you’re not sure how to go about buying a domain or choosing the right type of hosting for your needs, or setting up your new account. To help you along with this process, we’ve created a step-by-step web hosting guide which will instruct you from the very beginning until after you’ve purchased your new web hosting plan. For more in-depth information on each topic, simply click on the links to our dedicated articles.  

How to Buy a Domain?

Most hosting companies offer a free domain or transfer of domain. If you’ve never purchased a domain before it’s easy. The first step to signing up for a hosting company is seeing which domains are available.  During the sign-up process most web hosting companies provide a search feature enabling you to type in the domain of your choice along with the extension .com, .net, .org, .co., info, .biz.... and then to check for its availability. You can also choose to purchase a domain separately from a domain registrar like GoDaddy, onlydomains.com, domain.com and namecheap.com. More information can be found in this domain buying article

When researching for a web host provider take into account your sites future growth and traffic needs

Choosing the Right Type of Hosting

No matter what type of hosting you choose, you’ll still want to choose a host that will give you 24/7 customer & technical support, a 99.9% uptime guarantee, enough bandwidth & storage for your website, a reasonable price, and a user-friendly guide to help you get started.

Shared Hosting- A shared hosting plan is perfect for most people wanting to get a website online. It’s simple to use so even a new webmaster can manage their account easily. Almost all shared hosting includes a package of features to help you build and design your website like thousands of 1-click installation design templates & applications, support for  popular CMSs (Joomla, Drupal, Mambo), blogging tools (WordPress), and shopping carts (osCommerce). Unless you plan on having a large e-commerce website or you want your own personal server, shared hosting is a very good solution. You can find great shared hosting plans in our web hosting reviews article.

VPS Hosting- A virtual private server offers greater privacy, control and more resources like bandwidth and storage than a shared hosting plan. Instead of sharing a server with hundreds of other accounts, you can have your own private section of a server. The server is divided into multiple containers so that a few other users will also have private space on the same server. Within your personal space, you’ll have root access to enable that you can install or update any software you want on your account.  If you’re not sure whether you need a shared plan or a VPS, visit our Shared vs VPS hosting article for more information on the advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Dedicated Server Hosting- If you have a large website or multiple websites with a lot of traffic, a dedicated server will be very useful.  Dedicated servers offer the most reliable hosting because you’re renting your own private server. Think of it as having your own computer without any other users on it. A dedicated environment gives you complete control over all of the software, applications, and security (firewalls) that are added to your server. You also choose all of the hardware like the specific type of Linux or Windows operating system, the processor, the exact amount of bandwidth, and disk space as well as the level of maintenance you want the hosting company to provide.  If you’re debating between purchasing VPS or a dedicated server, refer to our VPS vs Dedicated Server article.  

The cheapest option is always to choose a shared hosting plan for a long period of time which will then decrease the cost

Choosing the Right Operating System

Once you’ve chosen a shared, VPS or dedicated server, you’ll be more interested in the specific server and operating system. Even on a shared hosting plan you can choose Linux or Windows hosting, with Linux being the more affordable and popular option because it’s open source and compatible with Wordpress and other popular blogging tools and CMSs. If your website was developed using ASP.NET and other Microsoft technologies though you will need a web host that provides a windows environment. If you’re unsure which OS you need you can ask the customer support of one of our recommended hosts

Buying a Hosting Plan

Buying a hosting package is simple once you’ve chosen the type of package that you want. Most hosts offer a 1, 2, or 3 year plan although some are willing to offer plans for 6 months or even monthly. The cheapest option is always to choose a shared hosting plan for a long period of time which will then decrease the cost. The vast majority of hosting providers include at least a 30 day money back guarantee, so if you aren’t happy with their service you can always cancel and get a refund. For the most affordable hosting plans, visit our cheap hosting article.

How to Setup your Hosting Account?

Your hosting provider should walk you through the process of setting up your account. The welcome email you receive from your new hosting provider should give you all of the relevant information you need for setting up your hosting account. Since each host is different and may have a specific process, we can only offer a few general steps to help you understand what the process is like.

1) Login to your Account Manager: Setup your username and password. This can also be used as your FTP username.

2) Configure your domain: Much of this is done when you go to register your domain. You’ll enter your admin and contact information for your new domain, consolidate any new and existing domains, and set a primary domain.

3) Upload Files: Use your control panel’s File Manager or an FTP client like Filezilla, a free File Transfer Protocol client. If you’re using an FTP client like Filezilla, you’ll connect to the site manager and your new site within the manager by adding your domain, username and password. From there you access your public html file and then click and drag a folder from your computer to the public folder. If you’re using cPanel, you can simply add whichever files you want to your public html folder (Web Root) within your File Manager. Remember not to delete any files that are already in your control panel as they’re often there in order to allow it to function properly.

4) Connect your database and files: You can either create a database in phpMyAdmin in cpanel or use an existing database and import your database to your new account.

5) Point DNS (domain name server) to new host: This is a step you only need to take if you have a domain on a different registrar, for example if you buy hosting from HostGator but bought a domain from GoDaddy. This step helps you match up your domain with you new hosting account. For more information on this, read our article about switching web hosting companies.

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