If your domain is your like your home address, think of your hosting solution as your actual house. Your website hosting solution or “host” is simply where your site lives.
The simplest way I can think to explain hosting is to have you think about your own computer. You have folders and files on your computer – simple enough. Now imagine you gave access for anyone in the world to see those folders and files. In essence you would have just become a “web host”.
A web host is a collection of hundreds or even thousands of very powerful computers called “servers” that allow limited access to their folders and files to anyone in the world that wants to see them. You can put virtually any kind of file type on those servers – .doc, .jpg, .mp4 , etc. – and others can have access to them if allowed.
In the case of a website, all you’re doing is uploading specific kinds of folders and files to the server that others can view through web browsers like Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.
Your website will consist of dozens of folders and hundreds of files and they’ll all be accessible at your web host. The typical visitor to your site will not be able to see the structure of those folders and files – they’ll just see your website. But you’ll be able to login to your web host directly and see how everything is organized. This will be very similar to looking at files on your own computer.
Most websites are hosted on a server that hosts hundreds of other websites in different directories. This means server resources and even server IP addresses (the numerical address of the server / directory where you site “lives”) are shared. This is usually the case with what is known as “Shared Hosting”.
Shared hosting is the most affordable and common type of hosting and the kind I recommend for most small businesses starting out with a website.
But with shared hosting there are tons of options – dozens of companies that offer and even resell shared hosting. They’re definitely not all the same but most of the package options you’ll find from the major hosting companies are very similar.
After years of developing small business websites I’ve worked with many hosting companies. A few years ago I finally landed on a primary hosting company for my websites: HostGator.
HostGator is inexpensive, reliable, provides all the tools needed to set up and manage your site, and they provide good customer support. If your site is receiving less than 10,000 visitors per month, a shared hosting solution like HostGator is a great way to host your site. For our purposes at PageOne, HostGator provides excellent hosting for WordPress (not to be confused with HostGator’s “WordPress Hosting” package). I know that’s a bit confusing but WordPress is primarily a blogging platform and HostGator let’s you jump into blogging with WordPress with their WordPress Hosting Package. If, however, you want WordPress to run your website (like this site is) then you need to get one of their “Web Hosting” packages.