If you are planning to start a self-hosted blog or website, one of the services you will be needing is web hosting.
Web hosting is a way of making your blog or website available online, on the world wide web (www), the global system of interconnected documents.
You may be wondering how web hosting works, let me briefly explain.
There are people who have undertaken the business of providing the infrastructure that creates a place where web documents can live online (web Hosting)
What happens is that, when you pay for a hosting plan, you will be given access to this infrastructure which you need to make your content, that is, your blog or website available on the internet.
This infrastructure can be referred to as a server.
What is server?
According to Wikipedia “In computing, a server is a computer program or a device that provides functionality for other programs or devices, called “clients”.
In web hosting, a server is just like a computer that is always connected to the internet, it makes it possible for people to have access to content online any time of the day with the help of the internet.
There are companies which their business model is all about offering people the service of hosting their web platform on their server, (an infrastructure they have created or made available).
Some of the well known companies that offer this kind of services globally include GoDaddy, HostGator, BlueHost and also some African companies like Web4Africa, Whogohost, SMartWeb, Utiware hosting, Syskay Systems and many others.
If you decide to host your blog or website by yourself you need a hosting company that offers hosting plan, I recently wrote a post where I discussed what to consider when choosing a hosting company you can check it out to learn more about hosting company.
What is a hosting plan?
A hosting plan is a list of features a hosting company offers for a monthly or yearly rate, these features is what you will need to make your web platform available on the Internet.
When choosing a hosting plan, it’s necessary to consider the features in any of the plans offered by the hosting company you decide to host your web platform with, to know if they offer the right infrastructure, to make your web platform always available on the Internet.
Here are some of the features you need to consider when choosing a hosting plan.
1. Webspace (web disk space)
One of the things you will have to consider when choosing a hosting plan is Web disk space, Web disk space is the size of memory space you will be temporarily assigned to (depending on the plan). It’s measured in memory size like megabytes and gigabytes.
This webspace is available on the server of the hosting company, it’s where the documents (text, pictures, videos, graphic etc) that make up your site or blog are stored. Before choosing a web hosting plan you need to put into consideration the size and kind of documents you will be dealing with on your blog or website.
If you are going to be publishing large files like images, videos (which is not advisable to publish on your blog because it slows it down) or lots of posts, it’s advisable to choose a plan that offers large web disk space.
Hosting companies offers Web disk space ranging from 512MB, 1GB, 4GB, 16GB up to Unlimited space, all depend on the company’s plans.
Bandwidth is the amount of data that is transferable within your site on a monthly basis.
Just like DATA subscription plan for phone, WI-FI or MIFI, hosting companies assign to you an amount of data (depending on the plan) to transmit and receive within the internet every month, unless for unlimited bandwidth.
Before choosing a hosting plan, first consider the rate of traffic that might likely use your blog or website in a monthly bases, also project the behaviour of your web visitors, how long will your web spend on your platform? how many pages will they likely open? All these questions will help you determine the right plan for you.
Just like in your devices, the amount of time spent surfing the net also determines the amount of data charged by an internet service provider (ISP).
For example, If you have 10 visitors in your site or blog and each accessed two posts or pages with 1mb per post or page. When you do the maths (2post view x 1mb each =2mb x 10 visitors =20mb) this size will be deducted from the amount allocated to you on a monthly basis, unless for the unlimited plan.
The idea here is to estimate the number of traffic you will be getting on a monthly basis, then use that estimation to determine the amount of bandwidth that will be needed, this will help you know which plan from a hosting company is right for you.
Websites or blogs always require more bandwidth size than web disk space.
3. Free domain
When you buy a hosting plan with a company, they might offer a free domain registration inclusive in your plan.
Hosting companies in Nigeria mostly offer com.ng (e.g. digitaltopnotch.com.ng) in their basic and medium plans.
You should know that when you use the com.ng extension you are indirectly promoting your web platform as a Nigerian brand, so if your website or blog is more related to Nigeria audience going with the .com.ng extension is not a bad idea, for this will save you the cost of buying a domain name for a year.
Always consult the terms and conditions of your hosting plan before making decisions on a hosting plan, it will explain more to you if they offer free domain registration, the type they offer and conditions attached to it.
Subdomains are like a secondary domain.
Subdomains’ features allow you to add other domain names which may not be registered to your website or blog. Like the name states, it is always a sub to your real domain name.
For example, let’s say your main domain name is knowitall.com, and you intend to have more than one niche on your blog, maybe you blog about many categories on your blog, like in our example, under knowitall.com you still have Music tips, Cooking tips and so on, you can create each of the categories as a subdomain to knowitall.com to have something like musictips.knownitall.com.
When choosing a hosting plan you need to know if you will be needing subdomains, if yes how many, this will help you decide on a plan that has the right number of the subdomain you will be needing.
5. Addon Domain
Unlike subdomain, this feature allows you to host more than one registered domain in one hosting plan. It allows you to host more than one site or blog in one webspace and bandwidth.
If you are hoping to create two or more different website or blog, you might decide to manage all of them from one server, this will require more web disk space and bandwidth and the right number of addon domain.
6. Parked domain
Parked domain feature allows you to host a temporary lite webpage in your server.
Some web developers use parked domains to advertise for website/blog or registered domains for sale.
When a hosting company offers you parked domain feature, it means apart from the primary website/blog or the subdomain or the addon features you were entitled to in your plan, you can also display a temporary lite webpage with a different domain name all within your web disk space and bandwidth.
Hosting companies offer email in their plans. Just like the normal e-mail services from the likes of Yahoo, Gmail, etc which is managed for us by an entity, email feature in hosting plans allows you to have your own unique email address examples firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and allows you to manage the service by yourself.
Meaning people can send you an email on a personalized email address and you can use it to communicate to other email services.
Hosting company offers personalized email service and it is important to know how it works because it can be useful for branding.
In hosting or computing, database can be referred to as a software used to store and organize data. It’s like a file cabinet where files are stored based on uniformity.
It’s in the database in your server that most of your files will be stored in. Definitely, every hosting plan will come with a database.
Database is also offered in web disk space size (megabyte and gigabytes) unless for unlimited plans.
9. Web Builder
Some web hosting companies might offer web building options, you might decide to use the web host company service in building your website or blog, some hosting companies may have already developed a Content Management System (CMS), but come with extra cost.
Some will integrate some other Content Management System in their admin panel, making it easier for you to access and install Content Management Systems like Drupal, WordPress, Joomla etc in your web space.
Understanding the options available for you, in terms of web building will help you make the right decision on how to build your web platform after buying a hosting plan.
Before you make decisions on hosting plan, decide on the kind of website you want to build, the number of traffic that will use your site on monthly bases and the tools that will be needed, this will go a long way in helping you choose the right plan that will serve your overall purpose.
If you are in Nigeria and you are looking for a company to host your website or blog, check out this hosting company whogohost they are one of the top hosting companies in the country, I used them for most of my hosting.
I hope this post helps you understand what to look out for when choosing a hosting plan from a hosting company.
If you have questions, ask in the comments box below.