The topics of website hosting, email hosting and domains can often lead to confusion for those just starting out online. Below we will take a look at each type and give a brief explanation of how they work and what they are used for.
Domain Hosting and Domain Name Registration
A domain host is a company that allows you to register a domain name and store that name. A domain name is similar to a real-world address, it is the location where your website is available to visit online. You can host your domain with one company and store your actual website with a different company.
The place where you store your website content, (the html pages or content management system that your website is built upon) can be hosted with a different company than where you have registered your domain name. This type of hosting is known as file hosting.
If you imagine a real-world business, you would register your company name and rent a space for your business to operate from. In the online world, it works similarly, you register your website address (URL) which can double as both your address and company name and purchase file hosting where your website will be situated online.
Many website hosting providers will offer domain name registration and file hosting as one package, saving you the need to use two different companies.
Another option for hosting is email hosting, this is where the emails your website receives are sent to and stored on a server. Most providers will offer email hosting as part of a bundle with web (file) hosting and domain registration.
It is most common for people to purchase all three services in one package from the same company but the option to have these separate can be useful for some users.
Website Hosting (Web Hosting)
We mentioned web hosting above, essentially web hosting is file hosting, it is the location where your website files are stored online. You need to have some form of web hosting to publish your website online. Website hosting services work by providing server space to users and there are often different packages available to choose from depending on how much space is needed and the amount of bandwidth and memory required to run your site.
Taking our real-world example again, your web hosting is your store, the files and content that make up the pages of your site are your products displayed in the store. The amount of space you need will depend on the number of products (your website pages in this case) that you want to display.
Different websites have different hosting requirements. Most companies will offer several standard packages such as a starter package for a single website to shared hosting for multiple sites.
Shared hosting is simply where several different people store their websites on one server. In real-world terms a shopping mall would be the server and all the individual stores inside the mall (the websites) would be operated by different people. The main space is shared but each person has their own separate space to run their business from. Shared hosting is a standard option for most people, it is usually more affordable because all the users share bandwidth of the server.
Large companies with busy websites will often opt for dedicated hosting, this is where only one customer uses an entire server, availing of the full amount of bandwidth and space available on the server.
What Exactly is Bandwidth and Why is it Important?
Bandwidth is extremely important for website owners, the more bandwidth your site has available, the quicker it will deliver it’s content to visitors. Bandwidth refers to the volume of data that can be transferred to and from your website server each month.
There are times throughout the day and week when internet traffic is heavier, these are called peak times. The more bandwidth your website has, the better it can deliver your content and the easier it can handle many requests from visitors at once.
Exceeding Your Websites Bandwidth
Most hosting companies offer packages with a maximum bandwidth per month and this works well for most people. There are however instances where you might exceed your bandwidth allowance, for instance, if you have a sudden surge in your traffic or if one of your pages gains more visibility and has more visitors than expected.
In these cases your website will receive many more page load requests than normal, requesting more data from your server.
How Much Bandwidth Do You Need?
The amount of Bandwidth you will require is dependent on the size of your website and the type of pages on your site. If you have a site that consists of most pages of text, your website will use very little disk space ( disk space is the amount of data you have stored on your website’s server).
If your web pages consist of more images than text, they will use more disk space and in turn require more bandwidth.
It is usually recommended that you keep each of your website files (each page on your site) to under 60kb of data. This is to allow those with slow internet connections to still reach your site. The larger your page the longer it will take for someone with a dial-up connection of 56kbps to load.
Website Hosting Bandwidth Estimates
If each of your pages averages at about 50kb and you receive five thousand visitors a week, or twenty thousand a month and each visitor on average views two pages on your site, you would need around 2GB of bandwidth per month. If each visitor viewed four pages, it would double and so on.
Website Hosting Company Australia Guide
For most new website owners in Australia, these amounts of visitors do not happen early on. Most websites slowly build up traffic over time so sudden increases in traffic are unusual. What this means is that you can choose a website package that offers lower bandwidth and disk space to begin with and upgrade your plan as traffic increases.
There are many website hosting services available in Australia to choose from, most of these offer website hosting with email and standard packages for starter websites as well as dedicated hosting for large companies.
Always make sure that you sign up with a company that offers plan upgrades for hosting.