FAQ

Getting started with web hosting for the first time is no small task, with web hosting companies and domain registrars all competing for business and offering a dizzying array of technical terms, pricing plans, and feature sets. Before heading out into the marketplace for these services, be sure to know the basics and understand the difference between a great host and a great deal, and a bad host and a terrible value.

We invite you to take a look at our collection of frequently asked questions below, with answers provide by our expert editorial staff.

What is web hosting, and what is the job of a web host?

What is the job of a registrar?

What is a domain name, exactly?

How do I pick the best domain name for my needs?

What makes a good web host?

What, exactly, is data transfer all about?

How much hard disk space should I look for?

How can I get the best deal on great hosting service?

Is free website hosting secure?

What am I missing out on with free website hosting?

Can I upgrade from free hosting?

What kind of hosting is the cheapest?

What are the benefits of Cloud Hosting?

Should I expect a money back guarantee?

Why do I need a custom domain registration?

What are all the different domain endings?

Should I be paying for a domain or can I find free domain hosting?

What is web hosting, and what is the job of a web host?

There's often a bit of confusion about what constitutes web hosting, and what a web host should be responsible for. Simply put, web hosting provides space on a remote server that allows a website to be broadcast to the world when someone enters its domain name into their browser bar. Web hosts are primarily responsible for providing the space where files will be hosted; they are also charged with providing basic features like the software needed to run a website, as well as for hosting the data connection that allows a website to be downloaded remotely.

What is the job of a registrar?

Domain registrars like GoDaddy.com and Hover are charged with maintaining web addresses for their customers. They could be considered the postal service of the internet. A domain is registered with one of these companies and it's paid for on a yearly basis. In exchange for that monthly fee, registrars are responsible for directing a domain name to the hosting space a customer has chosen; in some cases, they're also responsible for handling things like email addresses and other features.

What is a domain name, exactly?

A domain name is the equivalent of an online street address. Just as if someone was entering a physical address into their GPS navigation system, entering a domain name into a browser's address bar will take customers directly to a website's front page.

How do I pick the best domain name for my needs?

In the 21st century, picking a great domain name is often the most difficult part of getting online. That's because it seems as if everything "good" has already been taken. There are plenty of domain name suffixes to choose from, however, and aspiring web hosting customers should feel free to get creative. What they should not do is choose a domain name that starts with numbers, or contains a great deal of numbers somewhere between the beginning and end of the domain name. Hyphens, too, should be avoided. Both of these things can make a domain name tough to type, and even harder to remember, and that can have a negative impact on a website's popularity and long-term performance.

What makes a good web host?

The market for web hosts is almost dauntingly large, with companies offering packages that range from a few dollars a month to several hundred dollars monthly. While the overall value of a web host can say something about their quality, there are more things to look for than just the monthly price tag. A good web host is one that has round-the-clock customer support in the form of a toll-free hotline, live online chat, support ticket system, knowledge base, and community forum. They're committed to offering the most storage space and data transfer limits per month for the fee they charge; in many cases, a great web host will have the resources to offer unlimited storage space and data transfer. Instant setup of a new account is another indicator that a web host is reliable and means business. They'll have the latest version of essential backend software, as well as an intuitive user control panel and a self-service billing area.

What, exactly, is data transfer all about?

The amount of data transfer, or bandwidth, that a web hosting company grants to its customers measures the amount of files, or websites, downloaded by visitors. If the website's index page is 1 megabyte in size, and it's downloaded 30 times in one month, that would constitute 30MB of bandwidth. More popular sites will require larger bandwidth caps, while smaller ones can get away with a minimal amount per month.

How much hard disk space should I look for?

Hard disk space for a web hosting plan varies per website being hosted. Relatively small websites can get away with a few gigabytes. Those websites that are large -- or intend to get large rather quickly -- will require tens of gigabytes to store files, images, and other data.

How can I get the best deal on great hosting service?

Many web hosting companies pair their monthly service rates with discounts for paying quarterly, semi-annually, or even annually. These discounts can often result in a few months of "free" service over the course of the year, representing a significant savings for customers.

Is free website hosting secure?

Free hosting packages can be just as secure as their paid counterparts, but take the time to make sure they offer everything you need. If you are selling online, you will need higher level security for your customers sensitive financial data, so you may want to look into upgrading, or even moving to a VPS rather than shared hosting solution. Customer support should be able to answer any of your questions.

What am I missing out on with free website hosting?

Free hosting packages may offer less storage or bandwidth than the paid subscriptions which our top hosts also offer. For a starter website this shouldn't matter at all. You are also unlikely to find free hosting if you are looking for VPN or Dedicated hosting, which would give you more customisation and security.

Can I upgrade from free hosting?

Take some time before choosing your web host to make sure you can upgrade your subscription as your website needs increase. When starting out you may not antiticpate large amounts of traffic or storage, but in time you should be able to add to your hosting package as you make a success of your website. The best hosting solutions can make this transition seamless.

What kind of hosting is the cheapest?

Shared hosting is definitely your cheapest option when launching a website. This works like a pizza, where everyone has a slice of the same server, sharing the allowances such as storage and bandwidth. If you want your own server, you will need a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or Dedicated which is more expensive.

What are the benefits of Cloud Hosting?

Cloud hosting allows for an unlimited amount of machines to act as one server. This often offers the most reliable and secure hosting environment, while still being extremely affordable. In recent years it has become a very popular shared hosting solution for many of the top names in web hosting.

Should I expect a money back guarantee?

All hosting companies today seem to be offering 99.9% uptime and unparallelled reliability. It can be hard to know if you will be happy with your hosting choice before getting started. The best companies will offer you at least a 30 day money back guarantee which will effectively work as a trial period. Some will even offer an anytime money-back guarantee for the remainder of your term if you are dissatisfied.

Why do I need a custom domain registration?

There is no comparison between the professional touch of a custom domain such as info@myawesomewebsite123.co.uk in comparison to a subdomain such as info@myaweseomewebsite123.blogspot.co.uk. As an added bonus for a business, a custom domain gives legitimacy so that your customers feel secure.

What are all the different domain endings?

You may see the endings to domain names referred to as TLDs, which stands for Top Level Domains like .com, or gTLDs, Generic Top Level Domains such as .net. The ones pertaining to specific countries can be called ccTLDs, such as .co.uk. You may be interested in buying all the most popular TLDs for your domain name for your business to stop other people using that name.

Should I be paying for a domain or can I find free domain hosting?

Once a domain is bought, it belongs to you for that term and no one else, so a fee is incurred each time a domain is purchased. Many hosting companies will offer a free domain as an incentive to sign up to a hosting subscription. This is a great perk, and some companies even offer a free domain for life. Make sure to do your research to get the best deal.