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A host, a host, my kingdom for a host!

Well after singing WordPress’s praises yesterday, I realised that I hadn’t discussed exactly where you would put WordPress in the first place. I’d also like to make it clear that I’m discussing the version of WordPress that gets installed on a server, not wordpress.com.

But before that I’d like to apologise for yesterdays picture of a cat which looked like Hitler. I now realise that it was totally inappropriate to use that picture. We’re called Scruffy Dug, not Scruffy Cat.¬†So instead, today I present you with a picture of a Dog, looking like Hitler.

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Awww, isn’t he adorable (the dog, not Hitler).

So, hosting. Web hosting is where you pay for space on some elses web server. You pay your money and you get a little bit (usually 5-50 Gigabytes of space depending on your host) of space on the server. The advantage of this is the cost is a fraction of owning your own server, as the cost is divided between you and the other 50 or so people who are sharing the server between you (plus a cut for the hosting company to make a profit).

The disadvantage is that you don’t have full control over the server, but that doesn’t matter for 99.99% of the site operators out there. Also the sharing of the server can lead to some problems, for example if one of the sites on the server sudden gets really busy, then the server will obviously have a lot more work to do, and every site on it will suffer in performance and load times.

Buying your own server is the alternative, and while it is a possibility, the price is very high, since you not only need to pay for the server, but for it’s dedicated connection to the internet. And these costs build up quickly. So, unless you’ve got a stack of cash burning a hole in your pocket, or you are absolutely sure that your site is going to be the next big thing and in no way can survive sharing space on a server with a number of other web sites, then hosting is the way to go.

Now what should you look for in a hosting company, well, the  obvious really, the more bigger numbers they give you for storage and bandwidth for the smaller the quantity of money the better really. This goes for the number of email accounts and storage for emails as well, the bigger the number the better for your buck.

The other thing you’re looking for is what your account comes with, usually some version of php the most common programming language used on the web), some version of MySQL (the most common database program used on the web), and. FTP (File Transfer Protocol, a common way of putting files onto the web server). But all of these things are standard, and you’ll get them with every email account, the one thing that’s not absolutely standard which I would not consider buying hosting without, is CPanel.

CPanel is another wonderful little piece of software which is installed on the server, and provides you with a web site you cn log into, to control your web site.

Sounds a little odd, but the power of CPanel cannot be underestimated, it gives you control of so much, and give you such amazing flexibility, such as being able to install wordpress, and a variety of other systems with a click. Give you control of your email accounts, etc, etc. The breadth of things CPanel does would fill this and a dozen other similar articles, I personally find it so handy that I would not for a moment, consider buying hosting with someone who does not provide it. It’s common, but not yet universal.

Lastly, the reason why I’m not recommending one service over all the others, although fairly obviously I have a favourite is that your experience with a hosting company is so subjective. Depending on who you share your server with, your site might run smooth as silk, or might crawl, a good hosting company will deal with that, spreading the load, but then again they’re in it for the money, and moving the person slowing everything down to another server either gives them preferential treatment (giving them a dedicated server for the same price everyone else has to share), or just plain moves the problem around.

So while one person may love a service, anyone they recommend to use the service may have the worst experience ever. And as with everything on the internet, people with bad experiences don’t keep it quiet. So when looking around, have a search on google for the hosting company, and see what other people are saying, and avoid the ones with page upon page of horror stories.

I hope this has been of some interest, and if you need any help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.