If you’re having a website built for your business you may be overwhelmed by all the details & options of Hosting and Domains. Instead of being confused, here are some pointers of what your website designer should tell you about hosting. So let’s start with the basics.
What your Website Designer should be telling you about Hosting
What is Hosting? Think of it like a piece of land on which you’ve built your website. Simply, it’s the space on the server that your website is built on. Websites need 2 things to be accessible on the Internet: Hosting & a Domain (more on that later).
Does my website have to have Hosting?
Just how every house needs to be built on a piece of land- every website needs to be hosted somewhere. If you have a website and you’re not currently paying some sort of monthly/yearly fee for it, you can liken that to sleeping on someone else’s couch vs. paying a rent/mortgage. If you’re not paying for it, you don’t have a right to it and it’s a temporary situation. He who is in control of the Hosting is in control of the website. As a business it’s important that YOU are the one paying for the hosting to make sure that you’re in control.
What to expect from Hosting:
Hosting is typically a yearly or monthly fee paid to your hosting company. Think of it like the mortgage you pay on your house, if you forget to pay it you could lose it. You can purchase hosting in large increments (anywhere from 1 year – 10 years). However long you choose to purchase Hosting for is totally up to you.
My clients typically purchase Hosting for a year. Purchasing it for longer increments can mean a price break. I recommend starting with 1 year because when you’re just starting out with a website you want to make sure you work well with the hosting company. There are plenty of options for hosting and you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal in terms of quality and price. You may want to “date” your hosting company for a year or two before you decide to make a long term commitment. You may find that after the first year your website was slow or down a lot and support wasn’t helpful… and you may want to switch to a hosting company that has better customer service and faster service.
Note: Moving Hosting Companies does take work and is typically not included in the scope of work from your website designer, so it may be an additional fee. Think of it like you moving your business to a new building. You need to sign the lease, move your inventory there, and then attach your sign to your new storefront. It’s basically the same virtually when moving web hosting companies. You need to purchase the new hosting, move the files that make up your website to your new host, and then point your domain to your new web hosting. So talk with your website designer before making a final decision.
Does my domain name Registrar and Web hosting have to be on the same account?
A domain name is simply the address for your website (example: http://www.Google.com) a Domain Name Registrar is the company whom you’ve purchased your website address from. You need both a domain name and hosting to have a website. So should you use the same company for both or use two different companies?
This is really a matter of preference and convenience but I’ll let you in on how I personally am setup. I choose to have my domains and my hosting with separate providers. I’ve found it hard to find a great Registrar AND Host in one company. Earlier I suggested that you “date” your web host before you make a long term commitment. If both your domains and hosting are on one account and you’re unhappy with the poor customer support, moving Registrars AND Web Hosting providers is a bit of a pain.
I like to buy my domains through Godaddy.com simply because they have a great interface and usually have great pricing on domains. GoDaddy.com is my Registrar but I’m currently hosting my websites with WPEngine. If I ever choose to change my Hosting Provider I simply change a setting on GoDaddy.com to point to my new Web Host. Yes, I have two logins & two bills to keep track of but I prefer the additional layer of security in case I ever become unhappy with either of my Hosting Companies- I never have to worry about losing any of my domains. Does GoDaddy also provide Web Hosting services? They do, but I personally have been unhappy with the quality of their service as I’ve experienced a lot of slow loading websites & downtime.
What NOT to do with hosting:
Some website designers will set up the hosting in their name or even worse they may ask that you “host” your website on THEIR servers and you pay them a monthly fee. Beware- this may not be in your best interest, but be in their best interest.
Think of it like buying a house through a real estate agent. Would you allow the real estate agent to put the house in her name while you were footing the bill? Of course not. Since this is YOUR investment, it’s important that the house is in YOUR name and YOU are the one paying the mortgage company.
Now let’s say the real estate agent also owned a mortgage company and was pushing you to go with her mortgage company. What would you think? I’m sure you’d want to make sure that her mortgage company really was offering you the best rates. Having your website designer also “host” your website may not be in your best interest and in my experience you can usually find cheaper hosting with the same or better quality. Do some shopping around before you commit to hosting with them, even if hosting on their servers in included in the bid.
Just as a word to the wise- all of the reputable website designers that I trust, never ask a client to also host the website with their company. Typically, it’s in the best interest of the client to go with a reputable main-stream Hosting Provider who will offer better quality services at lower rates.
Additionally, when you host your website with the same person who built the website, you’re giving them a backdoor to your website and is usually very hard to get access to the website later if you want to use another website designer. Essentially, it’d be like handing a key to your house over to your real estate agent. It’s not exactly a smart move. A reputable website designer should set you up on a Hosting Provider then give you all the login details.
What do you think? Do you have any tips to add to What your Website Designer should be telling you about Hosting? Let me know in the comments below!