What is hosting
If you’re brand new to web development, you probably haven’t come across the term hosting.
Website hosting is essentially the process of placing your website on a server, somewhere on the world wide web. Similar to renting a house to live in, you have to rent a space for your website to live. You rent this space from a hosting company.
A WordPress website is comprised two components:
- The site files, and
- A database
These assets need to exist on a server in order for a website to function and display online. A server is a computer that connects your website to a network of web users from around the world.
When a person enters your website’s domain name or URL (more on that in the following module) into a browser bar, the domain name itself converts to an IP address associated with your hosting company’s computer. This computer searches for and then displays the assets relevant to your website back to the web user in their browser window.
Selecting the best hosting service provider can be tricky as there are plenty of hosting companies to choose from, each offering different hosting packages. That being said, it’s really important to pay attention to the hosting side of our website as the difference between a good or bad server can severely impact your site.
Out of the options available to you, I suggest opting for a managed hosting solution. Managed hosting is developed specifically for WordPress websites in mind and includes a series of important advanced features including:
- Automatic backups
- Server and site speed optimization
- Security solutions
Your website is only as fast and secure as its server. If you’re serious about your business, you need to be serious about your hosting as it’s the foundation of your entire business. Take the time to make an informed decision about which hosting service provider you’ll use.
Elegant Themes, the company behind the Divi theme, have suggested the following server specifications to ensure that Divi runs optimally:
Factors of good hosting
When selecting a hosting service provider for your website, consider the following:
- What sort of website are you going to build? If you intend on making a blog site, brochure or display site or a simple eCommerce site, a shared server will be perfect. If you’re looking to build a larger site, one that involves more user interaction and high levels of customization, a more advanced hosting package with exclusive resources could be better suited to your needs.
- The trade off between price and peace of mind. If cost is a significant factor for you, opt for hosting with a standard provider. If you can invest in your hosting, I highly recommend choosing managed hosting. It comes at a price, often double to triple the price of standard hosting, but the value gained is worth it. Managed hosting is hosting designed specifically for WordPress, and complicated aspects of web development such as speed, security and protection are taken care of for you.
- Support is key. Especially for new developers who will be confused by foundation principles, you need a host who offers 24/7 support for any queries that may come up.
- It is optimized for WordPress and Divi. Some host’s servers are ill-equipped to handle the WordPress and Divi combination. Before investing in a web host, contact their support department and make sure their servers match the minimum server requirements as stipulated by Elegant Themes.
Basic Hosting Terms
Web hosts use lots of specialized words in their descriptions. Here are the main terms you’ll encounter.
Apache web server – a popular web server used by most hosts. It includes lots of features and is highly stable.
Backups – the host will create and store backup copies of your website for you.
Bandwidth – the amount of data that can transfer through the server per second.
cPanel – a standard dashboard where you can configure server and account settings.
CDN – Content Delivery Network. A system of servers that delivers content based on geographic location to speed up websites.
CMS (Content Management System) – a system that manages digital content to present it to users. They’re used as platforms to build websites. Popular CMS’s include WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
Domain name – a human-readable name that represents an IP address that points the browser to the correct server.
DNS (Domain Name System) – the service that converts the human-readable domain name to the IP address. This is stored in a DNS record where you purchase the domain name.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) – a service that transfers files to your host account from a remote server or your computer.
HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) – the language used to build web pages and serve them to browsers. The browser then converts the HTML to a human-readable web page.
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) – the protocol used to transfer text, images, video, etc., across the internet. It’s the foundation of the web.
IP address – a number that’s assigned to a device on a network that the domain name points to.
Linux – a free and open source Operating System that’s based on Unix. It’s highly stable and one of the most popular OSs for web servers.
Multisite – a network of WordPress websites from a single WordPress installation. The sites can be subdomains or subdirectories of the main domain.
MySQL – a popular database system for websites. It’s used in several CMS’s including WordPress.
PHP – a free, open source, scripting language that allows developers to build dynamic content. The code is added to the HTML of a website.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – a way of securing communications across a network, such as between browsers and servers, email, and more.
Subdirectory – part of the URL that identifies a subset of the main directory (www.domain.com/subdirectory). They identify pages, posts, etc.
Subdomain – a domain that’s part of another domain. They’re identified with a dot separating it from the domain (www.subdomain.domain.com) and can have their own WordPress installation.
Top-level domain – the main domain of a website. It’s the portion of the domain just before the dot (www.subdomain.top-level-domain.com).
URL (Uniform Resource Locator) – the complete web address of a file on a website. It includes the subdirectory, subdomain, domain, etc. (www.subdomain.top-level-domain.com/subdirectory) of a specific page.
Webmail – lets you read and send email from your browser. The emails are stored on your host’s server.
WordPress – a popular, free, open source, CMS. It’s used to build over 30% of websites on the web.