What is this “Hosting” thing and why should I care?
What is this “Hosting” thing and why should I care? avatar

What is Web hosting?
Every site you visit on the Internet – including this one – is stored on a computer somewhere. And all of those computers link together to weave the fabric of the World Wide Web.

Web hosting companies exist to store website files and make them available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – for a fee. If you want a website to profile your business, show photos from your latest trip, or publish your blog, your site will need to be hosted somewhere. That’s where hosting companies come in. And there are thousands of them to choose from, with a wide range of prices, features and quality.

So, what should you look for when shopping around for hosting? To simplify the process, we’ve broken it down into six categories:

Shared vs Dedicated Hosting:
What’s the difference? The vast majority of small to mid-size websites share the resources of a single computer or server; that’s shared hosting. Large corporate sites, websites generating a significant amount of bandwidth or businesses particularly concerned about air-tight security are typically hosted on dedicated servers. A dedicated server stores only your files and shares its resources with no one else. Shared hosting involves creating distinct accounts on a single server for numerous customers and sharing that server’s resources. Shared hosting is much less expensive than dedicated hosting.

To learn more about Black Cap Design’s dedicated server and shared hosting options visit the Hosting and Maintenance page or contact us at .

Track Record:
Perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing a host is their track record. Has the company been in business for less than two years? If so, take a pass. Hosting companies come and go, and it’s prudent to choose a Web host that’s been in business for a while and had time to establish a reputation. There is no shortage of Web hosting reviews online. Here are a few worth checking out:

Another thing that distinguishes one hosting company from another is their advertised features. These include things like unlimited POP3 mail accounts, web-traffic tracking tools, MySQL databases and PHP, scripts that you can plug into your site, and a control panel that allows you to manage your account online.

Many large hosting companies offer “unlimited” disc space and bandwidth. Bear in mind that “unlimited” means there are no set limits in place, but it DOESN’T mean there aren’t limits! if your account becomes too resource intensive (if you’re taking up too much space or gobbling up too much bandwidth), the hosting company will take action either requiring you to move to a dedicated server or suspending your account.

Technical Assistance:
Hosting companies generally offer an e-mail or “ticket” support system. Make sure there is also toll-free telephone support available. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but phone support can sometimes save you a lot of time and hassle. Before you buy, call customer support and field a few questions. The experience will give you an idea of what to expect from them in the future.

Speed is another factor to take into consideration. Given the global nature of the Web, you might purchase hosting from a company with servers on the other side of the continent – or the world! That distance will have an impact on how fast your pages load. You can test the speed of this transfer by doing the following:

For Windows operating systems:

  1. click Start and select Run
  2. type ‘command’ (don’t type the apostrophes) and click OK
  3. type ‘ping hostname.com’ replacing ‘hostname’ with the name of the host you want to test (ditto the apostrophes)

For Unix and Mac operating systems:

  1. Open Terminal
  2. type ping.hostname.com
  3. type CTRL-C to stop running ping

This will return an average time in milliseconds – the lower the number the better. Anything less than 80 milliseconds is good. Anything over 100 is poor.

Other tips:

  1. Consider registering your domain separately. Some companies offer 1 free domain when you register for hosting for as long as you stay with that host. If you run into hosting trouble down the road and decide to switch hosts, it could be tricky moving your domain name with you. If you do agree to free domain registration, make sure you can take it with you and ask how much it will cost to do so.  For more information about domain name registration see the blog post: “Domain Registration vs Hosting“.
  2. If you can, pay for hosting by the month. Some entry level plans don’t offer that as an option. If you run into a problem down the road and decide to switch hosts, a monthly plan allows you to leave without paying for service you’re not going to use.
  3. If Black Cap Design is developing your site, look for a host that offers Linux or Unix hosting, NOT Windows hosting – Unix/Linux supports PHP and MySQL which we will use when developing your site, and they offer greater security than Windows servers (also referred to as ASP.NET Servers).
  4. It’s worth noting, if you are a Canadian company with a .com address, there is a big advantage to having your hosting server located in Canada. If you have a .com domain and your web host’s servers are located in the US, Google will assume you are an American company. As a result, your site will not be found by people limiting their search to “sites from Canada”.

What if my Internet Service Provider includes hosting with my Internet service?
Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – the people who deliver Internet service to your home or office – include a modest amount of Web space on their network for clients. This kind of service is great for posting family photos or a small, static HTML page. The down-side is these accounts typically provide little or no technical support, no advanced features, and limited space and bandwidth. If you require anything more than a very modest site, the small fee for professional hosting is worth every penny.

If you have questions or comments please contact us at , or call 1-705-927-2308.