Why do I need a web host?
If you want a web site, you will need web hosting. Basically, web hosting provides a way for people to access your web site through the Internet. Without it, there would be no way for people to see the page.
A web page is, simply put, a file. When you or your designer builds a web page, you or they save it as a file on a computer. If the file remains on your computer, the only way anyone will see if is if they’re snooping around a bit.
So, in order to get the web page – a file – visible on the Internet, you need to rent some space on a computer that specializes in serving files out across the Internet to “host” your web page for you.
How does a website get from my computer to a web host?
There are several different tools you can use to get your web site files from your computer to a web host. The most commonly use is FTP, which stands for File Transfer Protocol. There is a very good free FTP program called FileZilla, which you can download at http://filezilla.sourceforge.net. Your web host will supply you with a server name, username and password which you input into the program to gain access.
Once you’re set up, you can use the FTP program to “upload” files from your computer to the web host. Most FTP programs work with a simple drag-and-drop interface.
How do I choose a good and reliable web host?
The most important factors are performance and price.
Performance. At the end of the day it’s all down to how fast your website loads that will keep bringing customers back. The quicker, the better. Most web hosts today are built on reliable infrastructures they lease from bigger web hosts. You can choose to host your website locally (South Africa) or internationally. There are pros and cons to both.
Price. If the price is too low then it’s too good to be true. This can often mean that the web hosting company has based their own setup on cheap and unreliable servers – watch out for this as it could be detrimental to your business should your website traffic increase. Any downtime may affect new sales and customer acquisition.
Always try and look for a web host company that promises up-time and money-back guarantee should you not be happy with the services provided. Also, don’t get tied into a long-term contracts and choose to go with a hosting company that offers a month-to-month solution.