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How to Choose and Set Up Web Hosting – MPS Guide

how to choose and set up web hosting

 

If you are currently working on a web app or resource, you have probably already come across or about to be concerned with the question of how to choose a hosting server. In this article, we talk about that and more. In particular, about how to set up hosting server, how to make SSL certificates work, how domain names work, and other underlying nuances related to settling with a reliable web hosting for your project.

Selecting a Hosting for Dummies

What to start with when it is time for you to get a dedicated hosting for your web-based solution? Let’s go step by step. 

Step #1: choosing domain name & SSL certificate

First things first, you need to know for sure why you need a domain name and whether it is reasonable to generate SSL certificate in your case. You may already have these aspects settled by default, in which case you can skip this step. 

What is a domain name? A domain as a whole is the basic name of your website or app in the network. It is a convenient way to specify the address of your web solution in the format of “superwebsite.com” rather than using only IP digits, like 111.162.182.0. Moreover, IP addresses change with every other switch of the hosting, which means that restricting yourself with an IP will get your users confused once you move to another hosting platform. 

So, how to choose a domain name? All in all, there are thousands of DNS (Domain Name System) servers that define the relations between domains and respective IP addresses as a service. With a dedicated domain name at hand, when you switch hosting, you simply need to enter the domain name registration panel and customize configurations. 

You should keep in mind, however, that settling with a domain name is a long-term decision. Domains are usually adopted by web resources for good (they can be changed later on, but that is a challenging and not very rational procedure). 

Diving a bit deeper into the domain specifics, all domains have levels to them. And if you ask most people out there that have previous experience of adopting a domain how to buy a domain name, you will most probably be directed to purchase a top-level domain (TLD). A top-level domain includes a unique name of your resource and a top-level suffix (like .com, .org, .net, and others; these cost differently, by the way, and may also depend on the web app’s or site’s topic and TA location). 

The more levels there are to your domain, the longer it is – for instance, second level – .com.ua, third level – superwebsite.com.ua, fourth level or subdomain – forum.superwebsite.com.ua

As for third- and fourth-level domain name registrars, they aren’t necessary to employ as you can create such domains single-handedly based on the existing second-level domain. 

You should also select among the types of domain names based on the basic theme of your web solution: 

  • .com is a usual pick for commercial projects;
  • .org – vice versa, for non-commercial projects;
  • .net is a common pick for projects based in the web environment exclusively;
  • .edu (an abbreviation of “education”) best fits educational establishments & projects;
  • .info – for information-focused projects;
  • .gov is a domain for government structures & such.

In some cases, when you need to emphasize the geography of your project or establishment to which a resource is dedicated, you can employ geographically-optimized domains – they are called ccTLD (country-code Top-Level Domain) and include .us, .gb, .ua, and others. There are also sponsored top-level domains – sTLD, such as .aero, .asia, .cat, .post, .tel, .xxx, and other more customized options. 

To make it all simpler for you, here is a table where we compare domain registrar prices based on the three most renowned service providers.

Domain providerAIT DomainsGoDaddyNamecheap
.com .net .org .biz .info .usfrom $6.95 per yearfrom $24.94 per year from $10 per year

Note that if you already have a domain name, you still need access to the web tool panel to attach an IP address to it. 

Moving further. Now, we need to figure out the SSL certificate specifics. In particular, you need to understand whether you need it at all or not. 

Let’s start with the basic definition of an SSL protocol. It implies a data transferring protocol that is used by websites and web apps in the global network for a secure connection between a user browser and a server. You need to connect an SSL certificate in order to enable this protocol in the first place.  

What is an SSL certificate? It is, basically, a unique digital signature necessary for virtual organizations that operate with user private data. This goes for transaction forms, registration forms, etc. 

As such, before getting into the specifics of how to get SSL certification, you should first answer the question – why do you need SSL certificate in your case? The major reasons may include:

  • you need to collect private user data (passwords, credit card data, etc.);
  • you would like to provide users with an increased web security level;
  • you wish to efficiently protect your web resource or app from hackers;

Once you settle with that, you should select a particular SSL certificate type. All in all, there are 6 major types of SSL certificates:

  • Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL);
  • Organization Validated Certificates (OV SSL);
  • Domain Validated Certificates (DV SSL);
  • Wildcard SSL Certificate;
  • Multi-Domain SSL Certificate (MDC);
  • Unified Communications Certificate (UCC).

When it comes to the pricing of the whole affair, here is a comparative table by providers. 

SSL certificate providersGoDaddySSLSSSL2buy
1 site cert$69.99 per yearfrom $2.77 per yearfrom $9 per year
Wildcard cert$299.99 per yearfrom $40 per yearfrom $42 per year

Note that if you already have an SSL certificate, you will need to provide your future hosting vendor with an SSL certificate, an SSL private key or (and) SSL Reseller credentials. 

Step #2: Selecting a hosting & server

Moving along to choosing a type of hosting to work with. There are four main types of web hosting services:

  • Dedicated. This type of hosting provides clients with a whole separate dedicated physical server. It is most usually employed for launching apps that cannot coexist with other projects on the same server or demonstrate increased resource requirements;
  • Cloud. Cloud-based hostings are mostly employed by large-scale or rapidly expanding projects. They allow extending the capabilities and scaling at any time without the need to purchase additional hardware and set up new server software. The prices of cloud hosting providers depend a lot on the brand (for instance, the services of Microsoft Azure Cloud are quite expensive practically completely because of the loud brand name); 
  • VPS. A Virtual Private Server is identical in many aspects to a full-blown physical private server (e.g., there is also root access, a unique IP address, routing tables, etc.). This hosting technology, basically, combines the powers of a private server with the management accessibility in a digital environment.
  • Shared. This is when a number of web resources are based on a single web server. This is the most cost-efficient way to go that best fits small-scale projects. Usually, every other website is allocated to a respective web server sector, with all connected resources working based on the centralized server software. As such, this type of hosting can be deemed a cheaper alternative to VPS. 

Once you settle with the basic type of hosting to use, you will need to: 

 

  • Define whether you require a control panel. What is a web hosting control panel or cPanel? It is a hosting management environment where you can optimize, set performance rates, adjust FTP accounts, change stress-load allowances, restrict user access, and do more manipulations related to your web solution. Such panels are most frequently used to create and configure subdomains;
  • Select server parameters (CPU, DDR, SSD, HDD, etc.). All these parameters will directly affect the performance of your launched website/web app. Obviously, the higher the requirements for a final solution are, the more power a server should possess;
  • Estimate bandwidth capacities. Last but not least, what does bandwidth mean in web hosting? The faster it is, the more users will be able to access your web solution at once. So the more large-scale and complex the business logic and design of your solution, the more bandwidth capacity will be consumed when every time it’s launched. We do not recommend going for unlimited bandwidth options, as such offers may not be as transparent in their cost (e.g., you can be offered an unlimited bandwidth capacity up to the first 10 GB of used resources, after which, monthly tariffs can be increased dramatically). 

 

As to the related prices, according to some top hosting providers, here is how things differ.

Server providersHostgatorDigitalOceanHetznerAmazon
Dedicatedfrom $119 per monthfrom $5 per monthfrom €40.46 per monthfrom $2 per hour
Cloudfrom $4.95 per monthfrom $5 per monthfrom €2.96 per monthfrom $0.011 per hour
VPS from $29.95 per monthfrom $5 per monthfrom €34.51 per monthindividual pricing
Sharefrom $2.75 per monthfrom $5 per monthfrom €3.45 per month

Step #3: Providing a vendor with access data

Once all the above-mentioned stuff is out of the way and dealt with, you should give your vendor authorization data for the server, control panel (if you have one), domain control panel, as well as SSL certificate parameters (if you connected one).  

Right after the initial launch of your web resource, you should closely monitor the level of server load and volume of traffic so that, in the case of resource shortage, you could promptly and painlessly for users boost your hosting powers. 

Step #4: Configuring a backup server & establishing 24/7 monitoring

Lastly, if your web app or site acquires some regular, voluminous traffic, you should think about a backup server and 24/7 monitoring capabilities to avoid stress-load issues. The most primitive physical server bought, e.g, from Amazon, will do just fine as a backup measure. 

As for regular monitoring, you can configure Nagios and hire a dedicated hosting-vendor side admin. On the other hand, if your web solution isn’t complex in its nature, you can track the state of servers manually via smartphone at all times. As soon as you indicate any traffic-load issues or failure of any service, Nagios instantly warns about this and you will be able to take measures to restore the service as soon as possible.

How to Choose Hosting Server – Summary

Finding and setting up hosting isn’t hard if you know where exactly to go and what exactly to do. All in all, you need to settle with the optimal pricing to quality ratio that prominent web hosting providers offer and don’t forget about the underlying services we described in the article. 

As the “path of least resistance” option, turn to us. We will gladly support and maintain a project of any topic and level of complexity.

Contact MPS

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