In my last post, I started talking about the three critical ingredients that are needed to create a web page, web site or web presence. No matter where you are on the map… small business owner just starting out or big business generating hundreds of clicks per day, each part is essential and needs to be addressed or there can be no web *anything.*
Ingredient #2: Web Hosting
Web Hosting is rented space where your web content lives.
When you’re looking at a web page, the images and text you see are created with code (HTML and other types of computery code). Your browser translates that code into something you can understand. But that file, that code, has to live somewhere so your browser can find it. Purchasing web hosting is essentially renting space on a powerful computer that is accessible via the Internet, 24/7.
The birdseye view of where these powerful computers live are essentially refrigerated buildings, lined with rows and rows of computers (called servers because of how the computer itself is setup or configured). Each computer server can have many web sites and some web sites have several servers. It just depends on the size/needs of the web site. These servers are connected to the Internet with data lines that are many times faster than DSL or cable. They’re backed up and climate-controlled and protected in many ways against a webmaster’s worst nightmare: server downtime. It does happen, but good web hosts have guaranteed “up” time of over 99%.
Bottom line: paying a web host is like renting a little virtual apartment where your web site’s code can live.
A Few Reasons Why It Wouldn’t Be A Good Idea To Host Your Own Web Site
Yes, it’s true, since web pages are basically hosted on almost the same kind of computer you might be reading this blog post from, you could host a page or web site on your own computer. However, you’ll have to have your computer on and connected to the internet 24/7 (otherwise, it’s like arriving at your storefront with the “Closed” sign hanging in the window). If people are coming to your computer all the time, you’ll have different security considerations also. And if too many people come all at once, they might even possibly overwhelm your computer causing it to crash.
So to avoid this snorezy headache, getting a hosting service provider (like GoDaddy) will lower your risk, provide you more protection, and back up your web site files regularly.
Can You Afford Hosting?
Yes, you can.
You can find places that will host your site for free. Some of them are “free” because they’ll actually show ads above or on your website. You get to decide whether or not you are willing to have ads on your website in order to have your site hosted for free.
Or you can pay less than $10 per month for ad-free hosting and you can pay more or less depending on what features you need. Since we’re essentially talking about renting space, the first question will be: How much space do you need for your files? How much space do your images and code take up? Probably less than you think!
WordPress.com: To The Rescue (Again)
So if all this tech talk makes you want to take a nap, just hold on one second because I’ve got some good news.
Not only does WordPress.com help solve the domain name thing (making it unnecessary to have a domain name but if you do already have one, that’s OK too), WordPress.com also helps solve the hosting questions.
You don’t need a separate web hosting account with some other company (like GoDaddy) that charges you by the month. There are other services out there that either build in their hosting costs (such as Typepad.com or Squarespace.com) or require you to host their software (like WordPress.org) and you might not be ready for that (yet). WordPress.com is completely web-based, and all you need is a web browser to sign up.
Combine your domain name (web address) with a web host (WordPress.com or other) and presto! you are almost in business.
The third essential ingredient for creating a web presence is next!