Separating Registrar and Web Hosting Provider
The first thing you need to know about what is web hosting; is the place where you buy domains and the place where you buy web hosting does not have to be the same provider.
It is just that most domain name registrars offer hosting services and most web hosting providers offer domain name registration services too as a comprehensive service.
We usually like to keep our Domain Name Registrar and Hosting Provider separate in case we need to change the hosting company.
Seldom there is a need to change the domain name registrar unless there is some change of ownership.
You are more likely to change a web host than a domain registrar.
And thus separating them keep your concerns objective.
When there is a need for you to consider a change of web hosting, you will not be concerned by the fact that the domain name of your website is registered with them too.
What is Web Hosting?
So what is web hosting?
It is the actual place where all your web files are stored for people to access through the World Wide Web (WWW).
When someone type in your domain name/web address in the browser, the browser will take him to your hosting server where your website files are found.
It is like a physical address of your business.
Let says if your business is known as “Thinker Web Designs”, you rent an office at City Mall Road, 305 and you register the address in the business directory.
The office at City Mall Road, 305 is like your hosting server. If people want to find Thinker Web Designs, they go to City Mall Road, 305.
If people want to find your website, they will be routed to your hosting server.
So a web host is like office space for your website
What are Nameservers?
How does the browser know where is your hosting server?
You need nameservers, which are like the directory panels you see in the shopping malls, guiding you to the locations of the different stores in the mall.
Nameservers provide the directions for the Internet to find the web host.
But first, you need to know where are the nameservers like you need to know where to find the directory panels in the shopping malls.
In the domain management section found within your domain registrar account, you will need to indicate the locations of your nameservers.
You are usually given 2-3 default nameservers’ addresses.
You can choose to use the default nameservers which typically the domain registrars provide or you can use the nameservers provided by the web hosting company or you can use a provider like Cloudflare.
Within the nameservers (default one or third party like Cloudflare), you can edit the records to indicate the actual location of your web host.
Once entered, browsers around the world will be able to route correctly to your hosting server within 24 hours.
Most Hosting Providers offer email hosting services together with their hosting plans.
The email accounts can be accessed through webmails, desktop email clients such as Outlook or ThunderBird, or your mobile phones’ email apps.
Do note that web hosting plans usually have a limit on data storage (diskspace) and the size of your emails is calculated together with your website files. (Avoid those hosting providers that claim to have no limit !!)
If you foresee that you usually deal with a lot of large email attachments (more than 5mb), you may want to consider either upgrading your web hosting plan, subscribe to a premium email service like Google Suite or Zoho Email.
Best Practices for you to secure the right web hosting
Choose a Local Web Host Company of your Target Market
It is known that where you host your website does affects your SEO rankings.
It would be best to first identify your target market.
If your target market is in Singapore, it will be best to find hosting providers with Singapore based servers to host your website.
Avoid Cheap Web Hosts
From experience, it is not ideal to choose the cheapest hosting providers as they are normally swarmed with unorthodox clients affecting the speed and reputation of the hosting server.
In our opinion, an ideal budget for a web hosting plan for serious businesses should range from USD $20 per month upwards.
Look at Usability of Interface
Another good point to look out for is the usability of the web host’s control panel.
Some web hosts have very out-dated design and navigation to achieve certain functions will be extremely hard.
Go for Mid-Tier Web Hosting Plans
For our SEO services, we usually ask our clients not to skim on the cost of web hosting especially when SEO is important for their business.
For usual traditional business scenarios, we will recommend VPS plans that are typically the mid-tier plans of web hosting companies
It is better for you to secure your own web host than your web developer
It is not ideal to have your web developer hosting for you too as relationships may sour and it will be awkward to ask them for access to the hosting during then.
It is like renting an office from your interior designer, you wouldn’t want to do that.
And the skills required to maintain a web server and the skills required to design and develop a website are not really the same.