If you're starting a WordPress website, you'll need to know about hosting. So what is hosting?
Hosting is the service that provides the server where your website will live. This server will be where your website is located and where you will get your email if you set up email at your domain name.
Web hosts have many computers in a data center and you’ll probably start off with a shared hosting account. Shared means you’ll share the physical computer or server with other websites. This can be very inexpensive and a shared hosting account can cost as little as a few dollars per month.
The drawback to this, with some hosts, they put lots of sites on one system, and sometimes they overload them with more sites than there are really resources for, so the sites have problems, being slow or even not responding sometimes. Read reviews for the hosting company you’re considering, and look for complaints about uptime or about server slowness and steer clear of these.
There are other tiers of hosting, with virtual private servers and dedicated servers, but just starting out with one site, you can get going with a basic shared hosting account.
What does a hosting account provide?
First it provides a computer for your website to live on, that’s connected to the internet and on, all the time. It will provide the web server, ftp server, database server, and mail server. Lets look at what each of these does:
Web server: this is the computer program that answers requests for your domain and sends back your web page to your visitor. These days it’s Apache or nginx.
FTP server: allows you to transfer files to your web server, so they can be accessed. (Don’t worry, you may never have to touch this!)
Database server: this can store a database of information – in your case, we’ll be using WordPress which stores your content and settings in a database.
Mail server: this is how you’ll get email at your domain name. It will let you set up email addresses and check and send mail. Most hosts also offer GSuite as an add-on paid service, so you can use Google Mail with your site. Either way, you can have [email protected] as your email address, which looks more professional.
Basic Requirements for your WordPress Host
You’re looking for a host with php and a MySQL database, preferably on some flavor of Linux. Don’t get a Windows server for your hosting, while it can be made to WordPress software, you’ll find that most of the support online is geared to being hosted on a Linux server, so it will be easier to get help when and if you need it.
I like Siteground as an entry level host, monthly costs start at $3.95 a month for their Startup plan (at the time of this writing). They’re even recommended by WordPress.org. They offer domain registration for $15.95 per year. We’ll walk through the step-by-step process of getting a domain and hosting account in the next section of this chapter.
When you set up your hosting account, you’ll have a login name and password for your account. Keep these safe. And choose a hard to guess password with a combination of letters, numbers, symbols and upper and lower case. Choosing a solid password will go a long way to keeping your site safe.
Some hosts specialize in hosting and supporting WordPress sites. They offer additional services such as making WordPress updates for you and some will clean your site if it becomes hacked. These services cost more than standard hosting and sometimes they don’t offer email services just website services – which can make them more technical and costly to get set up since you have to provide for email services separately. Depending on your budget and your comfort level with the technical, this can be a good choice but it is not mandatory.
Once you’ve ordered your hosting account, you’ll get an email from them with your account details and instructions for getting started. Save a copy of this somewhere on your computer along with your login information. Some people like to print these and keep them in a paper filing system, others use a password keeping like 1Password for this information or even in an encrypted note in a program like Evernote.
Tip: When you login for the first time to your hosting account, be sure to create a bookmark in your browser, that will make finding your hosting control panel easier to get to.
You're one step closer to setting up your website!