A customer needs to evaluate the requirements of the application to choose what kind of hosting to use. Such considerations include database server software, scripting software, and operating system. Most hosting providers provide Linux-based web hosting which offers a wide range of different software. A typical configuration for a Linux server is the LAMP platform: Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Perl/Python. The web hosting client may want to have other services, such as email for their business domain, databases or multimedia services. A customer may also choose Windows as the hosting platform. The customer still can choose from Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby, but the customer may also use ASP.NET or ASP Classic. Web hosting packages often include a web content management system, so the end-user does not have to worry about the more technical aspects.
There are many ways to build and manage a website – eCommerce platforms, such as Magento or PrestaShop; content management systems, such as Joomla or Drupal; and blogging software, like WordPress, being just a few examples. The web hosting market can accommodate a wide variety of platforms and methods for creating, publishing, and administering web content. Applications can be integrated directly into the web hosting environment, making it simpler to use the site management tool with a given web host.
Shared web hosting is a good option for businesses looking to keep costs down. A shared web hosting provider will host multiple sites, owned by multiple customers, on one server. The site owners share the costs of operating the server, so pricing is much lower than VPS or dedicated hosting, usually less than $10 per month. However, site owners are also sharing the server’s ability to transfer data, which means your site’s performance can be slow if one or more of your hosting neighbors experience a traffic spike.
The user gets his or her own Web server but is not allowed full control over it (user is denied root access for Linux/administrator access for Windows); however, they are allowed to manage their data via FTP or other remote management tools. The user is disallowed full control so that the provider can guarantee quality of service by not allowing the user to modify the server or potentially create configuration problems. The user typically does not own the server. The server is leased to the client.
In this day and age, you don’t have to be a 5-star designer or experienced developer to have a website. That’s why man invented website builders — the time-saving, headache-free, web-design-for-dummies alternative to complex coding. You can point and click to add elements like photos or videos, type content into a visual editor, click one more button, and watch as it all magically appears live on the Internet. Seriously, these tools are brilliant, and it gets better:
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Uptime is the percentage of time that a server is operational. When you’re running a website, you want users to be able to access it at all times. When a server experiences downtime, your site would be unavailable, but ideally, this happens rarely. An industry-wide goal for how much uptime a server should have is “the five nines” – an uptime of 99.999%, meaning the system is highly reliable. However, 99.9% uptime is pretty standard and should more than suffice for the majority of hosting users.
The host may also provide an interface or control panel for managing the Web server and installing scripts, as well as other modules and service applications like e-mail. A web server that does not use a control panel for managing the hosting account, is often referred to as a "headless" server. Some hosts specialize in certain software or services (e.g. e-commerce, blogs, etc.).
You also want a web host with 24/7 customer support—if not by phone, then at least by chat. Forums, knowledge bases, and help tickets are all well and good, but sometimes you just need to communicate with another human to get things ironed out as quickly as possible. That said, not all 24/7 customer support teams are equal. Companies like GoDaddy and Liquid Web boast incredibly knowledgeable and helpful customer support squads—a fact that we confirmed in our in-depth reviews of those web hosting services.
Along with figuring out the overall category of your site, you should think about what (if any) exceptions there are to that. A lot of people set up a simple blog, and then realize they also want to sell just a few products. If you’re going to sell something on the website (even just a few things), you’ll need some kind of e-commerce software that will make that happen.
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