How To Choose a Web Host
Written for the non-experienced
I get asked for advice on starting a website often. Now, I can simply point people to this web page for my “Dos and Don’ts” regarding web hosting.
This is a basic non-technical guide, written to help you pick your first web hosting company with ease and save later headaches.
Last Update: March 21st, 2012
What is Web Hosting?
You already know what a domain name is, (if not read our guide to domain names). If you think of a domain name as an address, then think of hosting as your building. In other words, a hosting server is where your website data is located.
You store your website’s html, images, etc on your hosting server, so people can locate this info by typing your domain name into their web browser.
Should I get a Windows or Linux/Unix Server ?
Most people should stick to Linux/Unix servers rather than a Windows server. There are many reasons for this, but you don’t need to know them. Just know that Windows is generally more expensive.
And just because you use Windows on your home computer doesn’t mean a Windows Hosting Service would be any easier/better/more compatible 😛
So, stick with a linux/unix server unless you have a specific reason to get a Windows host (like you are a business that uses Sharepoint).
How Much Does Web Hosting Cost?
You should be paying no more than $5-$15/month on a basic hosting service. The best way is to pay a year at a time to get discounts.
Which Hosts do You Recommend?
For people new to hosting I have a few suggestions.
I love DreamHost.com and recommend them to my friends often. Their pricing is around $11/month or about $100/year. They have all the bells and whistles any new webmaster could want, all with an easy to use interface (control panel).
If you want to start a blog, they have super easy auto-installation of WordPress — the most popular blogging software. (and its free).
And even though DreamHost is my #1 choice for newbies — I recommend them for experienced webmasters, as well. I’ve had a DreamHost account for 4 or more years now. Blifaloo.com is now hosting on DreamHost’s PS (private server) service, and I am happy so far.
More Info On Choosing a Web Host
I helped (in small ways) put together the most comprehensive online database on web hosts — at WhoIsHostingThis.com. It’s my good friend Richard’s pet project, and probably the most complicated, comprehensive project I ever worked on. Check it out if you are looking for a webhost and need recommendations.
WhoIsHostingThis.com boasts a hosting comparison tool plus reviews that let’s you compare 100s of different hosting companies. Sort hosts by price, features, location, etc. and read reviews (plus find coupons). Quick links: Compare Linux Hosting | Windows Hosting | Green Hosting
Wikipedia’s entry on Web Hosting Services – If you need more info on web hosting, or run into some jargon you don’t understand…Wikipedia has tons of information on this subject.
Also see: Tips on Buying a Domain Name