If you have chosen your domain name and checked it’s available, the next step is to organise hosting. Website hosting can be a complicated topic with so many options on offer. This simple guide to website hosting explains self-hosted vs free platforms. PLUS find out what the best hosting option is for your new business.
Do I Need to Buy Website Hosting?
If you are using a platform such as wordpress.org, Wix or Squarespace, hosting is often included. This is great if you are creating a website for fun. Self-hosted sites are better if you’re creating a professional website that can grow with your company. Here’s why:
Limitations of Free Hosting Platforms
These free hosting platforms come with limitations:
Free website building platforms don’t offer the same customisation abilities as self-hosted websites. Branding your business and your website is important! Free platforms don’t allow you to customise everything, so you could lose your brand consistency.
Domain name limitations
Some of the free platforms don’t allow you to use your domain name. WordPress.com is a good example of this. To host your website with the free version of WordPress, as opposed to the self-hosted option, you have to use include WordPress in your domain.
So rather than having www.mydomainname.com, you would have to have www.mydomainname.wordpress.com While restrictions vary across free hosting platforms, there is a good chance some or all could affect your site.
If you’re determined to use these free sites be sure to check what all the limitations are before signing up. AND make sure to check if the process of removing your site from their control is easy enough to do.
NOTE: As a web designer, I encountered a few website builder sites. Some free and some paid-for packages including, domains, hosting and a website builder. When the time came to upgrade to a new website and the clients wanted to cancel their services, it meant losing their domain names too. Be sure to check the terms of your agreement with companies offering packages such as this.
You could lose your website
If the platform you choose decides they no longer want your site they can wipe it from their servers. There is not a lot you can do about this. Especially if they have limited backup options for you to access them yourself. You could have no website.
This is a dramatic worst-case scenario. But, it is important to consider the fact there is only limited tech support for free services. So if you do encounter problems you are not going to get much help.
Hosting Server Options
You can see why the limitations that come from using a free hosting provider are not worth the risk if you are wanting to create a serious business. So it is time to look at the best options for a self-hosted website.
Shared Website Hosting
Shared hosting is the most common and affordable hosting option when starting. This means your website is sat on a server with other websites. Website speeds can be affected as there are many sites on one server. But, most servers can handle it, particularly if they are WordPress managed servers.
If you need hosting for an E-Commerce or a large website with a LOT of traffic then other server options would be more suitable. For your first website and in the early days of business shared hosting is a great option. I use GoDaddy shared hosting for both my websites and I’m happy with the service I receive.
I would recommend choosing a provider that offers both domains and website hosting. This way everything is in one place, linking the domain and hosting will be easier if you need the support you only have one company to contact.
I hope this simple guide to website hosting has been helpful. Here are the key things to remember:
For a website that can grow with your business choose the self-hosted option. Make sure to read what you are paying for and be sure you have the flexibility to make the changes you may need.