May 7th 2015
Hosting is a major decision when it comes to getting your website up and running. There are many right ways to do it, and many wrong ones! If you're going to start up a website, make sure you do as much research as possible into your potential hosting companies and choose the one that's right for you.
When it comes to hosting, one of the biggest choices you have to make is whether to have your website on your own private server, or on a shared hosting solution. Both offer advantages and disadvantages. On a shared host server, often the cost is lessened due to less hardware requirements for the hosting company. Shared servers also allow for easier network-wide maintenance and software updates for any clients on it, lowering the price once more. Shared servers can be harder to secure and usually don't offer as much space, bandwidth and options as a virtual server. Private servers allow you to have full control over everything, specific to your website's requirements. You can have your own SSL certificate to ensure connections to your server are encrypted. Sometimes hosting companies will tell you that you have your own SSL cert on a shared server, when in fact the entire server shares one. If you're paying for a secure SSL certificate for your domain, make sure you have a certificate that's unique to your domain.
Another area that the choice between private and shared servers becomes important is for account security. Picture your website as a house, your own area that you have control over all doors/windows and security. All of your choices only affect your home, and nobody else's home affects yours. In a shared server environment, picture your website as an apartment inside an apartment building. There is a lock on the main front doors, and also a lock on your door. Hackers would (hypothetically) have to get into the server itself before they can get access to your door, nevermind break in. Both of these setups are (briefly and simply) considered secure. That being said, SilverServers has run into cases where another hosting company doesn't put the locks on your apartment door. When an intruder gets into the front door of the apartment building, access to all apartments is not restricted. This is a very unsecure environment but it is happening all over the internet with big companies that host websites.
The biggest tip for hosting is to make sure you educate yourself on all your hosting company offers. If they are a reputable, properly set up company they should have no problem divulging any hosting information you ask for, and the proof to back up what they say. While some hosting concepts definitely require some in-depth knowledge, other concepts are easily explainable and proveable by a simple email. Make sure you audit your hosting company for any information you can and research the situation you are diving into.
Some other tips for picking a hosting company:
1) If a hosting company only accepts payment by e-mail transfer, it's a good bet their network and hardware are lacking as well
2) Make sure you keep all login information for your hosting account. FTP, MySQL, Control Panels...they all have user/pass based access and are very important! If you don't have it, request it!
3) Keep track of your uptime/downtime. If you have an uptime agreement that is not being met, research why and think about moving your website if the host cannot continually meet the agreement. Sometimes problems occur down the line of internet access that have nothing to do with your hosting company, but sometimes it's an inherent problem in their set up.
4) Check out other sites that the company hosts. If many of those sites are down often, said host might not be a good choice
5) Read all the fine print. Many companies hide fees and charges in their agreements, make sure you review and ask about any and all charges.