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Web Hosting – Frequently Asked Questions

What is Web Hosting?

Web hosting is the service of storing data that keeps websites up and running for users. Every single website that is online has a host server, and almost all use a web host to manage that storage. Not all web hosts provide the same level of quality, though. Uptime, and data speed and quantity of transfer are the best measures of a host’s success. You can often pay more to get data transferred in higher quantities, faster. Most web hosts offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space at a speed that is perfectly fine for small-to-moderate sized businesses or individuals. For companies with burdensome websites, they may need to seek out a more advanced web host.

What is bandwidth and how much do you need?
Bandwidth is the amount of data that is accessed while viewing a website. Every time a user views a website, data is transferred, and the measurement of that transfer is bandwidth. In general, images, audio files and video files are higher in bandwidth than text. That means that if you have a more burdensome website in terms of bandwidth – if you have lots of video or streaming audio, for example – you have a higher bandwidth requirement than someone with a simple text-only website, or someone with only a few low-resolution images. Some web hosts offer unlimited bandwidth, and some place a cap on it.

What is DDNS?

DDNS stands for Dynamic DNS. It is a way of automatically updating a name server in the Domain Name System.

This is useful in the case of web resources which may change IP addresses on a frequent basis (daily or even hourly). The DNS records are updated by a local router or server whenever the IP address of the resource changes.

This is usually not an issue for typical web hosting plans, as web hosting providers use blocks of static IP addresses. However, it is an expected feature of many internet-connected devices, since they are dynamically assigned a new IP address every time they are restarted.

How to edit DNS?

Your DNS records are usually managed at your domain registrar, unless you have changed the Name Servers to “point” them to your web hosting company (a common practice). Whichever set of Name Servers are specified for your domain is where you need to edit your DNS records.

Whether it is at your hosting company or your domain name registrar, you’ll find it easy to edit your DNS records. There’s usually a link to something like “DNS Records” or “DNS Zone Editor” on the control panel.

A DNS record has the following parts:

Type of record. The most common you will need to know about are:
A — the main record, used to identify the IP address that all requests should be sent to
CNAME — Used to map one domain onto another
MX — Mail exchange, used to identify the mail server for a domain
Domain name or subdomain
Address — In the case of most records, including A and MX, this is the IP address of the server that is going to handle requests for the domain or subdomain. In the case of CNAME records, this is another domain name or subdomain.
TTL — Time to Live. How long servers and routers should keep a cache of the record before rechecking.

How to setup subdomains in cPanel?

In cPanel, there is an icon labeled “Subdomains.” Click that. It takes you to the subdomain management page. Here you can setup subdomains and associate them with specific folders in your file system.

If you are trying to setup wildcard subdomains (for example, for WordPress Multisite), use an asterisk ( * ) as the subdomain, and associate the subdomain with the same folder as your main WordPress install.

This is a different tool than the DNS editor. You will need to do this even if you manage your domain at a different registrar — cPanel uses these settings to route requests once they have arrived at the server. (It also updates the DNS records as required, but only if the domain uses the nameservers associated with your cPanel account).

If your site is actually hosted somewhere else, and you just manage the domains from this cPanel account, then ignore the instructions above and just use the DNS Zone Editor.

How to choose hosting?

Figure out what type of web site or web project you will be building.
Make some estimates about traffic.
Figure out what type of hosting plan you need.
Use our hosting search tool to find hosting companies that provide the kind of hosting you need and support the type of software you want to use.
Read hosting reviews before making a decision.
Get a coupon.

Can I host my website on shared hosting?

Usually, yes. The question is whether you want to.

If you are launching a more-or-less basic site which will have limited traffic — such as a personal blog, a homepage for a small offline business, or a website for local non-profit organization — then shared hosting is a great way to go. It will provide all the hosting power you need for up to several hundred visitors a day, for a reasonably low cost.

If you need a website that will work with larger traffic numbers — several thousand a day, especially highly engaged visitors on an interactive site (like a store or web app) — then shared hosting is going to be a terrible experience for you. You would be better off, in that case, with a VPS hosting plan.

Can I host WordPress on shared hosting?

Yes.

Because of its popularity, most shared hosting providers are well-equipped to handle a WordPress blog. Many even offer a simple one-click installation script, allowing you to get set up with a new WordPress site very quickly.

You can use our hosting features comparison tool to find hosting providers that support WordPress.

Can I host WordPress Multisite on shared hosting?

In theory, yes. In reality, probably not.

Most shared hosting providers that support WordPress can also handle the installation of WordPress Multisite. As long as you can edit the the .htacess file and the wp-config.php file, you can get Multisite working.

However, a well-functioning Multisite installation usually requires more active server management, and more custom configuration, than is usually available from a shared hosting provider.

Moreover, a successful Multisite installation will likely have dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of websites running at the same — each with their own set of users and administrators.

Even when a shared hosting provider advertises “unlimited sites,” the resources you are provided with on a shared hosting account are allocated based on the assumption that you will be running one site. With WordPress Multisite, you are further dividing those resources up, attempting to host many sites on a platform intended for one. This is usually a recipe for disaster.

A better solution for WordPress Multisite is a VPS hosting plan.

Can I host [INSERT APP HERE] on shared hosting?

As long as your site traffic does not get too heavy, shared hosting is capable of handling a wide variety of popular applications, including:

WordPress
Drupal
Joomla
Magento
MediaWiki
Zen Cart
If you’re looking for a hosting provider that supports a specific application you are looking for, you can use our hosting features comparison tool to search for one.

What’s wrong with shared hosting?

There are several potential difficulties that shared hosting customers can face if they are trying to use for a project to which it is ill-suited.

The biggest problem is the lack of computing resources — memory, storage, bandwidth, processing cycles. If your site traffic gets too high, or if there is a large volume of concurrent requests, page load times can slow to a crawl. This negatively impacts both user experience and SEO ranking. If that starts to negatively impact other shared hosting customers on the same server, your hosting company may throttle your access — making the site unavailable when it is drawing the most attention.

While it’s true that you can often upgrade directly to a VPS plan at that point, it’s also true that the lag between the need to upgrade and actually upgrading can cost you in ways which are hard to recover from. You don’t want to turn people away with Server Errors just as you are starting to see success.

If you expect that kind of traffic, or you need that kind of traffic for your site to be viable, then you should just opt for a VPS plan in the first place.

What is cloud hosting?

Cloud hosting is a type of web hosting where a Virtualized server (similar to those available in VPS hosting) is run on top of a variable pool of computing resources (a “cloud”). This allows you, the customer, to scale up your available computing power as needed.

Many (but not all) VPS hosting plans are actually cloud hosting plans, whether or not they are advertised that way.

What is the difference between Linux and Windows web hosting?

Linux and Windows are two different operating systems. The operating system that you use on your computer should not determine your choice.
For example, if your computer is run by Windows Microsoft, Linux hosting will work just as well as Windows hosting. Deciding between Linux and Windows web hosting depends on your style of web building. If you plan to use PHP, MySQL or Perl together with a range of software programs, Linux is the one for you. Linux web hosting is also suitable for ‘brochure-ware’ sites that offer interaction via enquiry forms, online purchasing and other e-commerce functions.

However, if you are looking to incorporate searchable databases and Windows-specific applications such as ASP then choose Windows web hosting.

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