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Web hosting | The comprehensive guide to web hosting

624 Views | 1 second ago | Published On: February 20,2021 - Last Updated: February 22,2024

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Web hosting | The comprehensive guide to web hosting

Getting a website online can be a complex process, and much of the work, functionality, and final design depends on the type of web hosting you choose and the technology (servers) that your provider uses.

Technically, you may not need a web hosting provider. Any computer can act as a web server, but setting up a server is complex and there are many things to consider. This is why major companies work with Alalmiy Alhura to obtain web hosting services, using dedicated hardware capable of delivering the best performance and the highest level of security.

At first glance, many web hosting providers may seem to offer a similar service with slight price differences, but upon closer inspection, significant differences can be seen. Not all web hosting providers offer the same levels of service, storage, features, stability, security, and scalability.

Each of these factors can have a significant impact on your business. For example:

  • A one-second delay in page load time can decrease conversions by 7%.
  • A four-second delay in page load time can cause you to lose 10% or more of your website traffic.
  • 86% of websites have at least one serious security vulnerability.
  • Migrating to another host can cost thousands of dollars and take weeks, if not months, of planning.

Choosing the right web host is of utmost importance in protecting your scalability and revenue. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know to make confident and informed decisions when choosing the most suitable web hosting provider for your website.

Identify your goals and web hosting needs

Before you can choose a web hosting company, you need to identify your web hosting needs and business goals for the coming months and years. Consider long-term goals, as while you may not have a high-traffic website as a start-up company, significant growth may push you to migrate to a more expensive host to maintain service levels.

To determine your web hosting needs and the type of servers, services, and site architecture you will need, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What type of website are you creating – will it primarily be a source of company information or require more interactive elements?
  • What functions will your website include – will you have a customer database, and will there be a transfer of sensitive information?
  •  What type of growth in visits do you expect – will you have a blog that sees increasing visits over time, or an e-commerce site that may experience large surges in traffic?
  • Will you need to host multiple websites across multiple subdomains?
  • Are you planning to expand and add new features as your business grows?
  • Will you need to integrate with external software programs (such as accounting software, customer relationship management software, enterprise resource planning software, etc.) now or in the future?
  • Do you anticipate any specific coding needs for your website (PHP, Java, .Net, etc.)?
  • What type of content will you be delivering – will you need a large amount of reliable bandwidth for a constantly growing audience?
  • How many pages will your website have – some providers limit the number of pages allowed with value/economy hosting plans.
  • Is your website critical to the success and growth of your business – how will downtime affect your revenue? Is uptime a critical factor?
  • Will you need email hosting with your website?

Take the time to answer these questions and document your technical requirements and future growth requirements. This makes it easy to identify the features you need and the

ideal hosting plans for your website.


Hosting plans to choose from

Web hosting companies typically offer one or more types of website hosting plans, based on the technology or servers they run and the size of their infrastructure, often considering the audience they intend to serve, such as Alalmiya Alhura company.

For example, some of the largest web hosting companies in the world offer specialized, dedicated, and complex website hosting plans geared towards large companies with extensive web hosting needs.

The benefit of this level of website hosting is not sharing servers with anyone, so activity and traffic to other sites will never impact your performance. This means that performance can be predicted.

The downside of this level of hosting is that the cost of dedicated hosting and server rentals quickly exceeds the cost of purchasing hardware, especially for larger company websites that require more storage or memory.

There are significant upfront costs with this level of hosting, and you will need a much higher level of technical knowledge.

For startups and small to medium-sized companies, shared web hosting is the most common type of hosting plan.




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What is shared web hosting?

With shared web hosting, your website shares a server with many other websites, securely isolated in their sections of the server, with all software resources and server hardware shared among the websites hosted on that server.

Benefits of shared hosting:

Since the web hosting provider maintains shared servers completely and all you have as a customer are the monthly hosting fees, there are 

quite a few benefits to setting up and running your website on a shared web hosting plan.

Shared hosting is cost-effective:

Since server resources are shared among customers, shared web hosting is the most cost-effective and affordable hosting plan, making it possible for startups and growing companies to get a new online presence at a lower cost.

Shared hosting is easy to manage:

Shared web hosting plans provide access to a standard control panel, making it easy to manage all aspects of your hosting account from files to email accounts, subdomains, and more. The rest, from hardware maintenance to software and operating systems, is managed by your web hosting provider, so you have a worry-free hosting experience.

Shared hosting offers simple integration:

Web hosting providers using an administrative control panel such as cPanel include features such as one-click installation for common software integrations. If you plan to use a content management system like WordPress, for example, a one-click installation will set up WordPress on your web hosting account and make it ready for customization.

Shared hosting is scalable:

While shared web hosting is ideal for small websites and launching new sites, the nature of the service makes it an ideal choice for scaling and growth. As website traffic increases and the need for more resources arises, your website can upgrade to the next level of shared web hosting. This allows you to draw more bandwidth and storage without worrying about migrating your website to another service provider or web hosting service to meet your business needs.

Web hosting providers that boast scalability offer private virtual servers (VPS) in addition to shared hosting. So, when your business activity finally reaches that point where it goes beyond the shared web hosting plan, you have another alternative to move to without having to find a new web hosting provider.

VPS is a step up from shared servers offering some key advantages that you don't get from traditional shared web hosting; primarily better performance guarantees, as you get dedicated resources, better website security, as you have a dedicated environment, and more control at the access level.

While Virtual Private Servers are still located on a specific shared server for VPS accounts, each VPS server has its dedicated resources, and the performance of one will not affect the performance of another.

While this may not be the preferred hosting plan for starting up, it ultimately depends on your business goals. Generally, VPS hosting strikes a great balance between price, performance, security, and privacy if your company needs it.



Hosting Plans
Understanding Functionality for Choosing the Right Web Hosting Company

When selecting a website hosting plan, you will need to review the functions and features offered by the web hosting provider, often in graduated plans, to ensure the availability of the features you need. Here are some of the most common functions you can expect with most web hosting plans.

E-commerce Options

E-commerce is not an important feature unless you plan to sell products, whether they are virtual/digital products available for download or physical products that you will sell online and ship to customers (or allow them to pick up from your store or facility).

Good e-commerce integration includes more than just the ability to sell products and should include the ability to manage multiple payment options, automatic tax calculations, shipping management options, secure processing of customer data, and encryption.

Email Options

Email is an essential element in any business, especially those aimed at developing a large online presence. Choose a basic shared hosting system that gives you control over your email, with customizable options to capture email improvements and add more users as your company grows.

To evaluate email options, pay attention to the number of email accounts or user accounts you can create, the cost for each additional user, webmail access, email storage and archive storage, email aliases, and file attachment limitations.

Control Panel

Web hosting providers typically do not program their back-end, but instead, use existing software platforms that allow customers to manage the different aspects and features of their web hosting accounts.

The benefit of these interfaces is that most are designed to be user-friendly, making it easy to modify things like email, FTP, or database management and applications through a single user interface.

cPanel and Plesk are among the most common control panels in web hosting, and the learning curve is not steep at all. So even if you are not a tech expert, it will not take long to get familiar with your way around.

Supported Programming Languages

All websites and custom functionalities are built using scripting programming languages, and there are plenty of options beyond the base (HTML5) that most people recognize. The type of scripting language supported depends on the operating systems or server types used by the hosting company.

For example, Windows-based hosting may support ASP, Active PERL, PHP, Python, SSI, Apache Tomcat, and others. Linux-based hosting may support the same languages or similar languages like PHP, but may not support JAVA, ASP, JSP, or specific components related to the Windows system.

Determine the language in which your website will be created and make sure it is supported by your web host.

Overall, understanding the functionality and features provided by web hosting providers is crucial in choosing the right hosting company for your website.



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Website Builders

Building a website once you have set up your web hosting account is not an easy task, especially for those who are not technically proficient or knowledgeable in coding and scripting languages. It may seem like the only option for developing a website is to hire an expensive designer to create something from scratch.

Some web hosting providers offer additional tools, such as website builders, that make it easy to get your website online without any knowledge of languages like HTML or PHP.

What makes website builders so popular is their easy-to-use interface designed to function as a drag-and-drop environment. It resembles working in a Word document and is the quickest way to get a website online.

A good website builder comes loaded with professionally designed templates to give you a starting point. All you have to do is customize the template with your logo, images, and content to make it your own.

If you need a website builder with your web hosting account, here are some things to consider and watch for when comparing web hosting providers:

  • Graduated Services are ideal - you may not need all the features and functions when starting, so you don't want to pay more than you need to. Choose a host with a website builder that offers graduated services at different price points, so you can start small and scale up as needed.
  • Know your page requirements - some website builders limit the number of pages you can create using their system. If you know you will need more than 10 pages for your website, you don't want to be constrained by a website builder tool that restricts you to only 3 or 5 pages.
  • Look for templates - website builders make the entire process easier, but that's great when you don't have to start from scratch. Ideally, look for a builder that comes with a mix of premium and free templates designed professionally.
  • Customization - you may not need it early on, but at some point, you may want to dive deeper into customization, like editing CSS for your website. Look for a website builder that provides access to advanced editing, where you can control HTML and CSS, or even JavaScript if you choose.
  • Good Support System - it's supposed to be user-friendly, but you may still get stuck. Check the type of support provided by the website builder. Ideally, you want something that offers training and extended customer support while also providing a knowledge base and tutorials for self-assistance.


shared web hosting
Scalability

Scalability is a major concern and should be a key consideration when choosing a web hosting provider. As your business grows, you will notice a consistent and steady increase in website traffic, purchases, and search requests on your website. Over time, you may also find that new features and functions are required to maintain the same level of service or to provide new services to your customers.

It's important to know that the web hosting company you choose is capable of expanding your business. Here's what to consider when comparing web hosting plans and companies



Web Hosting Company
Diversity in Hosting Plans

A scalable web hosting provider will offer a range of website hosting plans, from those with basic features to the more expensive plans that include a wide range of advanced features and functions. A new website, especially for small and medium-sized businesses in the early stages of online growth, is unlikely to need advanced features such as unlimited disk space and performance enhancements (such as faster CPUs and more server memory).

Choosing a lower level reduces overall costs, and with a diverse range of web hosting plans, it's clear that as your business grows, you'll be able to upgrade to a higher level with more features. The most important thing is that upgrading to a higher level will not require any server or host migration, and you will never have to disconnect your website from the internet when expanding with the same web hosting provider.



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Data Storage

When comparing website hosting plans, you may see plans with lower levels that gradually increase disk space restrictions to higher levels that offer unlimited disk space. Don't let storage restrictions prevent you from starting at a lower level. An initial storage capacity of 50-100 GB is plenty for most consumer and business websites.



Scalability hosting
Bandwidth

Bandwidth is a measure of the amount of data that can be sent in a specified period, typically expressed in bits or bytes per second for traditional consumer internet connections. Most modern website hosting plans offer unlimited bandwidth, even at the entry-level or shared website hosting plans. Be cautious of any web hosting provider that places restrictions on bandwidth. While it's unlikely that you will exceed average usage limits, a sudden increase in popularity and website visits could result in excessive fees to exceed bandwidth limits.

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Host and Server Reliability

Speed and performance are major concerns when it comes to scalability, even though you may not see any performance issues when launching your website for the first time, service and reliability may falter as your business grows.

There is also the possibility of network disruptions and issues that could lead to your site going offline. When reviewing a website hosting company, look for information about their data centers, the equipment they use, and their uptime guarantees.

For example, Alalmiya Alhura only works with servers obtained through first-tier providers, including HP and Super Micro. The latest servers used include a minimum of 32 cores with 128 GB of RAM, along with solid-state drives. Our investment in advanced hardware, along with residing in a strong and reliable data center, ensures that customers always get amazing performance, as well as a 99.9% uptime guarantee.

This is the kind of web hosting reliability you need - so no matter how quickly your business grows, there's no performance issue hindering your revenue flow.



Host and Server
Web Hosting Provider Security Evaluation

According to data shared by Forbes, about 30,000 websites are hacked daily. Similarly, 84% of online shoppers will abandon a purchase if they find themselves connected through an insecure connection while shopping online.

Security should be one of your top concerns when choosing a web hosting service provider, so your proprietary information, as well as customer data, are fully protected.

When comparing the web hosting provider's security offer, look at things like:

Backups: 

A web hosting provider should offer regular daily backups, as well as give you the ability to manually back up your entire site (and configurations) as desired.

DDoS Protection: 

Does the hosting provider offer special protection against denial-of-service attacks that could render your site and server unreachable?

Security: 

Important security aspects to consider range from protecting proprietary information to safeguarding customer data against breaches, how important it is to businesses, and how it could impact growth, revenue, customer service, etc.

When trying to evaluate a provider's security offerings, it's also helpful to look at the type of hosting (Linux-based or Windows-based) they provide and what better suits your security needs. As an open-source operating system, Linux has a very large network of developers who are part of an active support community - which makes a big difference in identifying and solving specific system challenges.

Redundancy: 

A good web hosting provider will have multiple levels of redundancy, don't be afraid to ask a representative if they use multiple levels of redundancy, such as network redundancy (keeping multiple active connections to keep servers connected to the internet), power redundancy (to ensure servers always have backup power), and hardware redundancy (so even if a disk drive fails in the server, web sites won't become unreachable).

Monitoring: 

Check that the web hosting provider uses active and automated monitoring, such as Alalmiya Alhura's active web scanning to search for potential malware and threats from intruders.

Data Encryption: 

All information should remain secure, and all websites, whether e-commerce or not, can benefit from Wildcard SSL certificates and domain privacy protection. Check the encryption levels provided with the hosting plan.



Secure web hosting
Customer service and support provided by a web hosting company

Customer service and support provided by a web hosting company is something that every company should consider. When there is an issue with your website, you want to know that you can reach your hosting provider to fix the problem.

The problem is not always that your website becomes disconnected from the internet. Any number of issues can affect your business, such as 

  • Email connectivity.
  • Slow loading times.
  • Errors in the script and page loading. 

No hosting provider can guarantee 100% uptime and error-free hosting. When a problem occurs, it's not just about being able to access customer support - it's also about how to access them and the available solutions to fix the issue.

Here are some things to consider when evaluating customer service and support from a web hosting provider:

Does the service change with the hosting plan?

It is not uncommon for some web hosting providers to change the level of support offered based on the subscription model you choose. Some providers may limit entry-level support or web hosting plans with lower levels of support to encourage customers to switch to a higher-level plan for better support available around the clock.

Beware of web hosting providers who limit customer service based on the amount you pay, or those who treat customer service as a product or another feature to sell. Customer service should not be an added feature.

Availability

Customer service availability is important when running your business online. Unlike a brick-and-mortar store that operates during business hours, your website is connected around the clock throughout the week. Therefore, it is ideal to find a web hosting provider that can match this with their customer service availability.

Because if your website goes down late at night or on weekends, you should be able to reach a support representative immediately to report the problem (and have it fixed quickly).

Contact methods

Customer service availability does not mean much if you cannot reach them. When setting up web hosting, pay close attention to the contact methods provided by the company for communicating with customer service.

A provider that has multiple contact points is ideal. You may not always be in a position to make a phone call and may need to submit a form or open a ticket. Similarly, you may be unable to access the web, and the only available contact method is a phone call.

The gold standard for customer service is a web hosting provider that is easily accessible and provides customer service via live chat, phone, social media, and email at any time of day or night.

Additional training services

Training should not be a mandatory element when it comes to customer service. However, a web hosting provider that offers direct training and support makes an extra effort to ensure that you know the basics to make managing your online business and website successful.

Training can take many forms, from live training sessions and one-on-one training to video training and online seminars, and even onsite training.

Knowledge base and DIY information

Sometimes, what seems like a complex problem on a website is often a simple problem that can be easily solved - often by yourself without waiting for customer service.

The best hosting providers have a knowledge base filled with DIY tips, video tutorials, and error troubleshooting for common problems that can arise when setting up and running a website. In some cases, these knowledge bases are further enhanced by creating community slides where website owners and community members volunteer their time to help other customers resolve problems or answer questions.

This type of customer service is usually free and provides significant value if you are not afraid of a little DIY work and want to troubleshoot and fix the issue yourself before reaching out to customer service.



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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Web Hosting Provider

Choosing the right web hosting provider plays a significant role in the success of your business. Consider these tips to avoid some common pitfalls when setting up your first web hosting account and creating a website.

Don't choose a free hosting account.

While free web hosting accounts may be "good enough" functionally for hobbyists or anyone starting a personal blog, they're a bad choice if you're launching a website for professional purposes. Free hosting accounts can come with a host of issues that affect the professionalism of your work and your brand, and they can also impact your business in other ways, including:

  • Ads and compulsory or required text that run on your site and divert your traffic away from your conversion path.
  • Slow load times and page speeds that impact conversions and force customers to bounce.
  • Restrictions on scripting and integration processes, page or product limits.
  • Potential negative impact on search engine optimization and SEO visibility.

Not checking customer reviews

Always exercise due diligence, regardless of the quality of the hosting service. You should always check online customer reviews to see if others are satisfied with running business websites with a particular web hosting provider. Try to find reviews from those who use the same services you are interested in, reviews that include security concerns, and any reviews that include information on downtime and page speed - but consider all reviews when making a decision.

Not reviewing plan feature restrictions

When comparing the features that come with web hosting plans, pay close attention to the fine print and the asterisks (*) next to items. Discovering restrictions after launching your website can have a big impact on revenue, especially if the restriction hampers your business and forces you to move to a new web hosting provider at a high cost.

And worst of all, you may discover that the very cheap web hosting plans you thought would save you money require a yearly contract that you can't get out of.

Always budget your options and learn about the specifics of each web hosting plan before signing up.

Subscribing based on price alone

New or startup companies need to maintain precise control over their budget, but choosing the first place based solely on price can lead to unexpected costs down the road when you discover unexpected restrictions or a web hosting plan that isn't as scalable as you thought.

Always balance your options and learn about the specifics of each web hosting plan before signing up.



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Conclusion

In summary, while due diligence may take time, taking the time to identify your business goals and web hosting needs will put you in a much better position to choose a web hosting plan that's right for you. The success of your website depends in part on finding a reliable, reasonably priced, and scalable web hosting provider that will support you as your business grows.

Looking for a new web hosting provider? Rely on Alalmiya Alhura for peace of mind and business growth.



important questions about web hosting
Some common questions

How does web hosting work? 

Web hosting is the process of providing online space to store files and content for a website, and is done by renting a server from a hosting company that provides you with space on the server and allows you to utilize its resources to run your website online.


What is the difference between regular hosting and WordPress hosting?

Regular hosting allows you to host any type of website online, while WordPress hosting features optimizations and customized services for running WordPress websites more efficiently, such as one-click software installation, automatic security updates, and backups.


What are the types of web hosting? 

There are several types of web hosting, including shared hosting, virtual private server (VPS) hosting, dedicated server hosting, and cloud hosting. Each type provides different levels of performance, flexibility, security, and cost, and the appropriate type is chosen based on the website's needs and the user's budget.



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