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Web hosting can be a confusing topic. We all use it, but not many of us actually know what happens behind the scenes of our own website. So today we’re answering the most frequently answered questions about website hosting to give you a head start.
#1. What Is Web Hosting?
Good start! Website hosting is basically the space your site rents. It’s all digital, of course, but you can equate it to your website’s rental apartment. This is where all your website’s files and data are stored, ready for use when someone rocks up and wants to see it.
Your site’s digital home is on a server. In most cases, it’s a gigantic physical thing, but if you choose cloud hosting, your site’s info gets spread across a bunch of virtual servers. Web hosting is basically like digital landlord-ing… Renting out space for websites to settle down.
#2. Can I Host a Website Myself?
You can host your website yourself, but in most cases, it’s NOT as easy, money-saving, or fun as it sounds. If you want to host your own site, you need three important things.
One, a server. These suckers can be tricky to set up and also cost a lotttt to keep cool, so if budget is a thing for you, you’re actually better off just letting a web host do it for you.
Two, you’d need some real tech expertise. And hand-in-hand with that goes number three, TIME. You can’t just leave your server to its own devices—it needs constant babysitting, updating, and backing up.
So while you can host your own site if you REALLY want to, it’s a lot more time-consuming and pricey than most people realize. Ultimately, using a website hosting company is really the better and more convenient option.
#3. Can You Buy Your Domain Name and Hosting Separately?
Yes! Your hosting is your digital home space. Your domain name is like buying a sign to hang on the gate. Now, some web hosts do offer domain name services, so if you’d rather keep them together, you can do that.
But it’s worth checking out domain name registrars separately from your hosting provider. You might have a bit more flexibility and you might also find some really great deals and end up saving a bit of cash in the long run.
#4. How Do I Transfer a Domain Name?
Once you’ve bought a domain name, it doesn’t have to stay with one company forever. You can transfer your domain name over to another registrar with just a few steps, although it can take up to 7 days for the whole thing to go through.
It’s good to know that you can only transfer a domain if you’ve been signed up to your current one for 60 days or more. Each company has a slightly different process, so your first step is to do some research on how exactly it works with your specific registrar.
In most cases, you’ll need to unlock the domain first (found on your control panel), request an authorization code, and then open your account with your new choice of provider. From there, you’ll have to put the auth code in on that side and follow their other instructions to complete the transfer.
#5. What Is SSL and Why Do You Need It?
SSL is like your website’s personal bodyguard. Before any data leaves your website, it makes sure it’s encrypted so no sensitive info can leak out. It’s also a bit like chauffeur, as it provides a safe, secure path from your site to the browser in question so no data can get lost or be waylaid along the way.
Most web hosts provide an SSL certificate, and if you see a little padlock icon on your URL bar, it means the site you’re on uses SSL as part of their security detail. It’s also handy because being SSL-enabled is good for SEO!
#6. How Do You Switch to a New Web Hosting Provider?
Not entirely happy with your current web host? Thankfully, it’s not a huge mission to switch to another one, but it does take a bit of work and time. First and foremost, make sure you’re actually switching to a web host that’s going to do a better job than the one you’re already using. You may need to spend a good bit of time researching first.
Once you’ve found your perfect host, sign up. When your account is up and running, you should be able to simply press a button that says something like “Migrate Website” or “Migrate from Another Host”.
This should start the process off without you needing to do anything else, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye on it and make sure all files have transferred over properly and nothing’s been left behind.
And when your site is fully transferred, double-checked, tested, and approved… Then cancel your old hosting package. It’s pretty much that easy!
#7. What Is the Future of Web Hosting?
Hold onto your digital hats, because the future of web hosting is packed with excitement. It might seem like a boring topic, but trust us—there’s a lot more to it than you might think!
Cloud hosting is going to be the shining star. It’s way above everything else in terms of loading speeds, security, and growth, so prepare yourself, because it’s going to take over.
Artificial intelligence, of course, will be a big player, and so will machine learning. Blockchain is likely to make an appearance as well, as the web hosting industry pushes forward with new innovations.
Considering there are over a billion websites online, very few of us actually know the details behind how our website lives and functions online. The most frequently asked questions about web hosting reinforce that fact!
Understand these things and learn more about your website’s digital landlord. A little bit of knowledge in this field can go a long way to actually improving your site’s performance, so it’s worthwhile.
About the Author
Paul Wheeler runs a web design agency that helps small businesses optimize their websites for business success. He aims to educate business owners on all things website-related, at his own website, Reviews for Website Hosting.