Building a new web site or major re-design? The way your web developer sets up a server for developing a new site may depend on how you want the site hosted in the long term. Because of that, be prepared to choose among web hosting options early in the development process.
Web hosting explained
Every web site is made up of files containing code and images. Those reside on a web server, a computer built and fine-tuned to rapidly accept and fulfill requests for files.
Servers are specialized, often-costly machines that require expertise to configure and maintain. Because of that, most web site managers rent space on a secure, “shared” web server that’s owned and managed by a company known as a web host or web hosting provider.
Hosting is a normal, ongoing cost of having a web site just as much as paying for your domain names. (You don’t need a host for domains you own but aren’t using.)
Your web hosting options
Option #1: Economy for best price
Some enjoy good prices and reasonable performance by choosing a shared hosting plan. You can use the web hosting company to host your domain’s email servers, too, or you can use Gmail (or another email service) for that. If your site is a WordPress site, you or someone you assign will be responsible for applying regular software updates to both WordPress and to any software “plugins” the site might be using.
- Times change, but people have seen reasonable results from web hosting plans that cost from $10 – $15 per month. Other, über-cheap plans? We are skeptical about the performance and, when push comes to shove, the tech support available from sub-basement-bargain providers.
- Many of these hosts provide free an unlimited (or a generous number of) email addresses for the web domain(s) you host with them.
Option #2: Pro for better performance
Sites built on WordPress or other CMS make heavy use of databases and other web-server resources. Some web hosts optimize their servers for these things and provide special functions for managers. For example, managed WordPress hosting provides web servers fine-tuned for WordPress performance, development, and maintenance. Most will automatically apply WordPress updates and offer daily site backups, but the site manager may be responsible for applying updates to the plugins, themes, and any extensions used by the site.
- Prices may range from $18 – $30 per month, and prices sometimes do reflect real added value.
- Some of these hosts may provide email hosting for the web domains they host, while those that focus exclusively on web hosting may recommend integrating with Gmail or another service that specializes in email hosting.
Option #3: “Hands-Free Pro” for best value
External Design offers a limited number of spaces on a high performance web server. Our clients enjoy the advantages of the “pro” option, above, but also benefit from our hands-on service: we handle the frequent software updates and “keep our finger on the pulse” of these sites regularly.
- This web-hosting price is $39/month and there is no extra charge for regular site backups and managing routine WordPress, plugin, and theme updates. One year paid in advance is $390 (i.e., two months “free”).
- We focus on the web hosting and recommend Gmail or another reputable service that specializes in email hosting.
A. If you are operating a WordPress site, we strongly recommend option #3 as the best value. But applying the software updates regularly is rather simple and takes only a little time each week; if you commit to handling that task yourself, the above option #2 is also a strong choice.
B. If you are running a web site that is all custom and doesn’t have the overhead of a CMS like WordPress, or a site that is very casual or personal in nature like a hobby or family project, consider Option #1. There might be no reason to pay for the enhanced performance and features of the other options.