Web Hosting FAQs

  1. What is web hosting?
  2. What is disk space and how much do I need?
  3. Is bandwidth important?
  4. Mailboxes and email addresses
  5. Operating systems and you
  6. What is PHP and do I need it?
  7. MySQL databases

1. What is web hosting?

Put simply, in order to be available on the internet a website needs to be placed on a specialised computer called a server. A server is connected constantly to the internet and is usually maintained by a company called a web host. The service a web host provides is called web hosting.

Large web hosts quite often rent out space on their servers to web design companies such as ourselves as this allows us to offer a complementary service to our clients with confidence.

There are several aspects of web hosting to be considered when choosing a web hosting package.

2. What is disk space and how much do I need?

This is simply the amount of space on the server’s hard disk that a website uses up. With this in mind, it’s easy to see that a large website will require more disk space than a small website.

So if you’re planning a simple brochure style website consisting of just a few pages your requirements will be very modest and a basic web hosting package should suffice.

On the other hand, if you’re planning a larger website you should probably start off by looking at the tiers above the basic (or equivalent) package.

In either case, most websites grow over time so it makes sense to go for a web host that offers a fair bit of flexibility so you can upgrade your web hosting account as your website’s requirements change.

3. Is bandwidth important?

In web hosting this usually refers to the measurement of data transfer over a set period, such as a month. Actions like visitors viewing the pages of your website through to downloading a PDF or Word document that you might have added to your website all result in data being transferred.

As you can imagine, a large, busy website will require more bandwidth than a small website.

It’s important to at least have a rough idea of how much bandwidth your website is using as if it exceeds its limit it will be unavailable until the start of the next set period.

The good news is that most web hosts send out warnings if your website is getting near to its limit. However if you find yourself repeatedly getting near to or exceeding the limit you should think about upgrading your account as you will be risking your website being unavailable to your visitors.

4. Mailboxes and email addresses

Most web hosting services and packages offer the option to set up a number of email addresses. This gives you the option of tying in your email addresses with your website address giving a more professional feel if you are running a business.

In most cases the more expensive web hosting package you choose, the larger the number of mailboxes on offer. So do bear in mind the number of email addresses you require when making your choice.

5. Operating Systems and you

Just like your home computer, servers use operating systems in order to run. The chief examples of which are Linux and Windows.

The choice of operating system will affect the type of additional services available to you. The larger web hosts quite often offer both to choose from, so depending on your website requirements this will be a very important decision to take.

Why is this important? Well to choose a common example, the popular blogging platform WordPress is built using PHP and PHP requires Linux. If you had chosen a Windows based hosting service and wanted to use WordPress you would soon run into problems!

Happily, web designers and web hosts like us are more than happy to advise you on which web hosting options to take.

6. What is PHP and do I need it?

PHP is a programming language used to create feature rich websites. Not only is it a popular language in its own right but many common applications are written using it. Examples of these include WordPress, Joomla!, ZenCart and more.

PHP requires the web hosting service to have Linux installed and so it is important to be sure that you are choosing the right web hosting package. For example, PHP doesn’t commonly run on a Windows server.

Don’t be afraid to ask your prospective web host or web designer for help and advice as getting it right at the beginning will save you time and money later on.

7. MySQL databases

Feature rich websites need somewhere to store information and that place is a database. MySQL is just such a database and is commonly used in conjunction with the programming language PHP.

If you are planning an e-commerce website, a WordPress website or some other feature rich website, you will need a database installed on your web hosting. Basic web hosting packages commonly do not offer a database as standard so you will need to start looking at the higher tier packages.