One of the biggest pet peeves I have are web developers that ‘offer’ hosting and domain to their clients, they are basically acting like the middleman, which would be fine if they were not marking up the service so much! I have seen developers charging upwards of $100 per month for one client on shared hosting, that is outrageous!! Lets talk about understanding domains and hosting, so you can make a well informed decision about these items.
First thing is first, every website needs a domain and a host. Period, no way around it. Now there are ways of getting these items free or cheap, but you usually get what you pay for…. The domain is sort of like your rent or mortgage, it is the URL or web address to get to your website. www.mummtech.com is my domain name. Companies can easily give you an off-shoot of their domain name for free, they tend to do this if they are trying to rope you into something or get you to pay for something in the future, like those darn commericials that say “Try our product for free, just pay shipping and handling” and a month later they charge you for the next shipment because it said so in the fine print….. Anyway, IF you decided to go with the free domain it would have the real owners domain name in it, like this www.yourwebsite.mummetech.com (although I do not do such sneaky things). Purchasing your domain is important, not only do you get to decide what your URL should be, but YOU own it, not someone else. For $10-$20 per year, it is a wise investment. A domain name should cost you between $10 – $20 per YEAR, many companies offer a discount for buying 5 or even 10 years at a time. GoDaddy.com and Domain.com offer domains, most hosting companies also offer domains. It does make life easier to have your host and domain from the same company, but it is certainly not necessary. If you do not have a company name, or your company name is already taken, talk to a professional for good ideas. Long web addresses can be hard for people to remember….
Next thing is hosting, kind of like your utilities, your host provides the server and technologies needed to run your website. There is an actual computer-like box (called a server) that stores and runs your files, it also utilizes the technology your website needs to run, like MySQL and PHP (among many others). There are companies that offer FREE hosting, I won’t mention any of them specifically because they are all rubbish. Free hosting companies are not just going to float you forever, think about it, where can you go live for free? I don’t know of any landlords or banks that will let me take up space in a home for free, so why would anyone offer free hosting?? My guess is 1- they are trying to trick you into something, or 2- they have very shotty services and can’t get enough people to pay for them, so they offer free hosting, which is usually very limited, in the hopes that you will upgrade to a paying plan at some point. Many people do just that because they have NO idea how to move to a new host, or simply don’t want to move, they feel trapped and end up paying so they do not loose their website. I have found, without fail, that ‘free’ hosting companies have lots of downtime, (that is time when your website is unavailable, not only frustrating for your users but bad for SEO too) and severely restrict what you can do with the account. Free hosts typically try to run ads on your website, limit software that you need, have lax security, and no support. A big risk you are running with a free host is loosing your website entirely. A free host can boot you whenever they want, no warnings, if you have your website all backed up this should not be too much of an inconvenience but for your users’ sake, you need a reliable host.
There are many types of hosting and many companies that offer it; prices can range from $3 per month to $3000 per month. We have three basic types of hosting: Shared, Dedicated and Virtual Private. Shared hosting is the most popular and least expensive type of hosting available. There are typically different levels of shared hosting, depending on the amount of hard drive space you need, the number of domains you want to host, the number of databases you need and so on. You are sharing server space with other websites, that means each server has a maximum amount of traffic it can handle and you have to share that traffic allotment with all the other websites on that server. If you have a good host they will make sure everyone is playing nice and they should suspend accounts that hog too much of the traffic resources, so you do not suffer. Of course if it is you getting all that traffic, they may suspend you till you pay for a hosting plan that better fits your increased traffic needs…. The next type of hosting is dedicated hosting, that is where you get the whole server all to yourself, no sharing with anyone else, perfect for large businesses with lots of traffic. This is also much more expensive than shared hosting, you can expect to pay $100-$500 per month for a dedicated server. Finally we have Virtual Private Hosting, soft of like a happy medium, it is actually shared hosting, but the server is separated into several virtual sections, so you basically have your own ‘mini’ dedicated server. You can expect to pay between $20 and $200 per month for VPS hosting.
Most websites today run pretty well on the basic shared hosting services offered by companies like GoDaddy, Host Gator, Blue Host and 1 & 1. There are plenty of lesser known companies that have hit my radar lately as well: Web Hosting Hub, Fat Cow and Blue Host to name a few. Regardless of who hosts your website, if you have 1 website, and low to medium traffic, you do not need $100 per month hosting…. the $5 – $20 per month plans will work just fine for you, and if your host comes to you in a few years and tells you that you have too much traffic for the plan you are on, then you can upgrade at that time. In addition to not needing anything more, I have found, in astonishing numbers, that developers who charge an arm and a leg for hosting are often claiming it is something it is not, maybe they are claiming it is dedicated when it is shared, maybe they are claiming you are paying for upgrades that are really standard, maybe they are telling you have the rights to the account, but if that were true why would you need them at all?? Be weary of paying a developer for a domain and hosting, unless they are offering some sort of free support to go with it. The best thing you can do is own your “virtual real estate” (your domain and host), don’t let a middle man own it and up charge you for using it.
MummeTech can assist you in the purchase and setup of your domain and hosting accounts. We can also help implement upgrades, changes and moves. Whatever your web needs, we can help!