You had a website built. And now well-informed people (such as your web designer, perhaps) are telling you that you need web hosting.
What is web hosting, exactly?
Hosting in general means to provide a place to stay, or to live.
Example: You host your in-laws over the holiday weekend. Et Cetera.
Likewise, web hosting means providing a (virtual) place for your website to live.
Web hosting is a computer service (which you generally pay for on a subscription basis) where your website is provided to the world wide web or internet.
You pay a periodic fee to a commercial web hosting provider in order to rent the use of a portion of their computers and network setup in order to make your site available to the general internet public.
Most commonly, the hosting fees are charged to your credit card, bank account, or Paypal account, monthly or quarterly.
If you want to make your website visible to “Planet Earth”, you absolutely need to rent web hosting services.
How about Do it Yourself? No!
How about No? Repeat, NO. (Sorry – my innate sarcasm leaks out all of the time. 😛 ) Why? For “reasons.”
Desktop computers or servers that you now own are probably unsuitable for web hosting due to the demands of web hosting. Why? Because web hosting is a 24 hour X 365 day/year activity. Web hosting demands continuous power, high speed access with no downtime, and capable technical staff that provision (supply!) very detailed aspects of the setup.
If you’re asking … you just don’t have the staff or capabilities!
Yes, in theory you could set up a secure, reliable web server in your home or office to and not have to pay a hosting company. But you’d have to provide all of the infrastructure necessary – clean power, daily backups, and a fast reliable internet connection – not to mention technical expertise – yourself. Not exactly a break even proposition for most website owners unless you plan to make a business out of web hosting.
How do you buy web hosting?
Price: Web hosting can cost anywhere from almost nothing (charged for actual usage instead of monthly – rare but it’s out there) to more conventional arrangements of $3 per month to (most commonly) $10 to $50 per month per website, and in some cases (extremely high volume websites) a few thousands of dollars per month.
The vast majority of web hosting providers give you a self service subscription and onboarding arrangement. You sign up and pay on the web through their online forms and you must transfer in your website code yourself.
A minority of providers such as Little Miami Web Works, yours truly) provide personalized concierge service which includes the loading of your website for hosting, regular maintenance and updates, and possibly emergency services… and you deal with a real person, not a control panel for your needs.
For a guide to my favorite recommended web hosts for particular needs, go to this article:
My Recommendations for High Quality, Reliable, Value Priced DIY Web Hosting