Web Hosting Beginners Guide

web hosting beginners guide

If you only take one idea away from this Web Hosting Guide,
Where you host matters 👍

What is Web Hosting?

You may be wondering: “what is web hosting?”

Web Hosting Definition: Web Hosting is a service that allows end users to host a website onto the Internet. Web hosting services work by storing your website files on web servers connected to the internet. When a user types in your web address (Domain name – comparethehosts.com), the Internet connects to the web server holding your website files and then transfers your website information back to their computer.


What is web hosting?

What is Web Hosting?

Learn more about Web Hosting at:

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What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is the unique address of your website e.g www.mynewwebsite.com. When you sign up for a hosting account, you’re typically given the option to register a new domain name. Domain names and web hosting can be bought separately and together as well. Some companies offer a variety of packages that include both.

You may also wish to transfer an existing domain name to the web hosting account. Your domain name also becomes a part of your free email address – e.g: [email protected]

Firstly, while buying a domain name you need to keep in mind that the name of your domain should be very simple and easy to remember. It should be something which matches your business profile. You should also try to buy the common extensions such as .com or .net although it is a bit expensive than other extensions. It can be easily recalled by people. There are companies which offer low rates for all types of extensions, and you can obtain lots of freebies with each domain registration too.

You can buy domain names and web hosting or email hosting together. But first check out that whether buying separately will be a cheaper option.

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What is Web Hosting Intro Video?

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6-step Web Hosting Beginner Guide:

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1. What you should consider about your Hosting Needs?


Before considering which web hosting company, hosting type and individual plan to consider, take time first to consider Your Hosting Needs

Follow Comparethehosts 9 Point Checklist (listed by priority)

1) What is the purpose of your website?

Evaluate your current website or future website purpose. 

2) What is your current skill level?

If you are a first time or beginner to web building, then we would recommend sticking with Shared Hosting plans. Shared Hosting plan generally includes an easy user control panel where you can simply one click to create a new site, change settings, access emails etc. Little or no programming required.

If you had web hosting plans before, then we recommend focusing on High end Shared hosting plans or VPS/CLOUD plans.

3) Do you require one or multiple sites hosted?

Think about your current and potential growth ? In short and medium term, will you look to potential expand sites, traffic, features?

The cheapest plans typically are limited to one website per plan (<$5/mo) vs the average/high-end plans offer multiple domains per host (>$10/mo). If you know that you are going building the one site for 1 year, then go for the 1 website plans. However, if you are building the one site now and planning future additions, then always pay more now. You will get a cheaper price and then manually add new websites to your one site plan.

You need to consider your web hosting scalability. You should check if your web hosting company can match your current/future scalability. Does the Web company offer more advance plans? For example future cloud/VPS or dedicated hosting plan. If not, then best to choose a host that matches your short/medium-term goals, as it can be difficult to switch hosting companies in the future.

In addition, if you already have a website with another host, look out for FREE website transfer offers. Some web-hosting companies offer free transfers (including website files, content, databases) to the new host. Otherwise, you are having to pay the typically $99 charge or having to manually transfer the website over (painful!)

4. Your Budget? 🤑

What is your monthly/yearly budget?

Plans run from cheapest affordable web hosting (<$20/mo) shared hosting plans to more expensive (>$50+/mo) cloud and dedicated servers. If you require extra features like security, marketing, then you may need to pay extra.

FYI – Web hosting companies offer large discounts (up to 60%) to customers that pay yearly. If you want to pay monthly, then you will have to pay the standard rate

5. Do you require access to specific Web platforms/applications?

Ensure that you have thought about the tools you require. Do you require a website builder or e-commerce shop?
For beginners startups, most web hosting companies do offer basic tools like an easy one-click website or e-commerce builders.

6. What location would you like your website hosted at? 🌍

Depending on where your audience is likely to be coming from then it is important to consider the location of your hosts.

The closer the web host to the audience, then the faster the website will run. E.g if most of your visitors will from the US, then look for the web hosting companies with US hosting. Some web hosting companies are only based in the US while others have worldwide hosting.

7. How much Bandwidth/Visitors do you expect?

Unless your site is receiving millions of visitors or serving large media files, then most web hosting plans offer large or unlimited bandwidth plans.

8. How much Web space? 🖥

How much Webspace do you need?

How much web space do you need?

Unless your site is very complex or serving large media files, then most web hosting plans offer large or unlimited web space plans.

9. Specific Server Operating System

Windows and Linux platforms are very similar in function. Most web hosting servers run on Linux server. Unless your website requires ASP scripts or SQL server, then go with Linux. In general, Windows hosting plans costs more than Linux.

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2. What to look for in a web host company?

Which web hosting?

Which web hosting company?

Choosing a web host company can be a tricky process, mainly because there are so many different companies to choose from.

1. Choose Top Tier Web Hosts

The conditions comparethehosts.com sets to be a TOP TIER Web Host 🏅are:

  • Must be in business for more than 5 Years
  • Must be managing more than 500,000 customers/domains
  • Must offer 24/7/365 Support
  • Must offer enterprise level security
  • Must be the Parent host, not a reseller.
  • Must offer atleast 99% uptime
At comparethehosts.com our team will only show you web hosts companies that we would TOP TIER 🏅

2. Origin/Reputation

The Web hosting company should have a compelling reputation built (5 years +) for consistent service and staying power. In general, the older the web host has been running, then the better. The site reviewed by comparethehosts.com will only be TOP TIER 🏅

3. Reliability and speed

Most top-tier websites offer 99.9% up time. Any company that advertises Below 99% should be avoided.
Also look for web hosts with fast page speed under 500ms. Ask your web hosts for their page speed rankings.

hosting performance

4. Customer Reviews / Satisfaction 😉

We recommend only signing up for well-known and reputable hosts. There are hundreds of resellers that do not offer the quality of service as the top Tier companies.

The editors at Comparethehosts.com have only listed the TOP TIER companies. Read our editors reviews & other web hosting review websites. User reviews should be considered. Check on Twitter/Google.

5. Flexibility

Think about your potential growth . Is your business expanding rapidly? Are gaining new customers by the day? Do you foresee a significant increase in visitors?

You need to consider your web hosting scalability as you may need to check if your web hosting company can match your current/future scalability. Does the Web company offer more advance plans? E.G Cloud/VPS or dedicated hosting

6. Support

Only consider web companies that offer 365 days, 24 hours, 7 days’ support. Look for companies with all supported methods like:

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Online Support portal.
  • Knowledgebase
  • Live chat

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3. What to look for in a web host plan?

What to look for in a web host plan? We have listed the 12 factors to consider when purchasing a new web hosting plan. (ranked by priority)

High Priority Factors

1) Price & Special offers 

Depending on the type of plan and the web hosting company, the price of a web hosting plan can range from a few dollars to hundreds per month.

  • Shared hosting. In general, the cheapest plans will be the shared hosting (sharing one server) types. Ranging from $5 – $20/mo
  • Virtual Private Server/Cloud. Sharing multiple servers plans will range between $10-$50/mo
  • Dedicated servers. Packages with your own web hosting server range between $50-$200/mo

Don’t be automatically tempted by the lowest price, as you may well end up paying more later.

  • Consider your needs?
  • Do you have to pay for any extras?
  • Can you upgrade your package easily if you need to?

To gain you as a customer, most web hosting companies offer special introduction prices and offers.
Common special offers are a free domain for the first year ($10-20) & advertising marketing credits ($200-500 Google, Bing, Yahoo Marketing Credits).

Please note – In order to access the low introduction prices and free domain, most web hosts ask you to sign up for the upfront annual plan (between 1-3 years). Then you need to consider the renewal prices.

If you would like to pay monthly when you can pay the web hosting standard rate.

2) Number of Domains/ Website Transfer

If you plan to host multiple websites (now or in the future), then you must look to buy a plan with unlimited domains per web host. Even if you only plan to host one website now, we would still recommend buying a plan with multiple domain options. This will ensure your account has room to grow in the future.

The cheapest web hosting plan limits you to only 1 website per plan.

In addition, if you already have a website with another host, look out for FREE website transfer offers. Some web hosting companies offer free transfers (including website files, content, databases) to the new host. Otherwise, you are having to pay the typically $99 charge or having to manually transfer the website over (painful!)

3) Premium Support

Only consider web companies that offer 365 days, 24 hours, 7 days’ support. Look for companies with all supported methods like:

  • 24-hour Phone
  • Quick response to Email
  • Online Support Portal
  • In-depth Knowledgebase
  • Instant Live Chat

In addition, review what the web host is saying about their Support Technical Expertise. Does the web host claim the support team has in-depth support knowledge? It is difficult to know how good the support is, therefore, review our reviews and other customer feedback.  

4) Performance

In terms of Web hosting performance, you should look out for Uptime and page load speeds. Most top tier websites offer 99.9% uptime. Any company that advertises Below 99% should be avoided.

Page speed is a critical success factor for both the end user and search engines like Google. Although the page load speed can depend on the size/complexity of web page (page, scripts, images etc), the location and performance of the Web host are most important.

Google suggests a quality site speed ranking of below 200ms. Only consider Page load speed of a web host for under 200ms.

Medium Priority factors

5) Site Backup

The ability to copy your website, files and content to a different location and the ability to recover/restore. This is required if your site crashes or you need to restore a previous version.
Most top-tier web companies free offer daily or weekly backup

6) Applications

Web hosting applications are typically included available as part of the web-hosting plans. Most companies offer easy, one-click access to applications like Web Builders & e-commerce tools. The feature makes it easy and convenient to install a blog, e-commerce shop, analytics, mailing list on your site with minimal effort.

7) Online security

Secure website hosting

Look for Secure website hosting

Read up on the web hosting companies security features. Do they offer an SSL certificate option? HTTP/2?

Low Priority factors

8) Storage level

A storage level is a number of files your website hosting can store. Like the storage on your PC Hard drive.

Most Web hosting companies offer a large or unlimited amount of server storage. Look for web hosts with unlimited or large GB storage offerings.

Small to a Medium website are OK with a few GBs of storage. Look for an unlimited plan if you plan to host large medium files.

Most web hosting companies with unlimited storage do include limits in the fine print.

9) Bandwidth

What is hosting bandwidth? It’s the amount of data that your website will transfer (upload and download).
Most Web hosting companies offer large or unlimited bandwidth per month.

Small to a Medium website is ok with under 100GBs of Bandwidth. Look for an unlimited plan if you plan to have a popular website with photos, video transfers.

Useful tip – Please note, there is no such thing as a real ‘unlimited plan’. Most web hosting companies will put fair usage limits in the policy. In real world usage, 95% of websites should be able to transfer as much traffic as possible.

10) Email

Having a web hosted account means you can create professional email addresses. Hosted Email account are email addresses you can create hosted from your account. E.g [email protected]

Look out for added email benefits like spam filters, newsletters, and auto-responses features. This factor is a low concern as 99% of web hosting plan offer unlimited email accounts.

11) Database Support

Databases are required to retrieve and hold information. If you need to install a web builder platform like WordPress, then you will need to have a web hosting account with database support.

This factor is a low concern as majority of web hosting plans offer free unlimited database accounts across MySQL, PostsgreSQL, Oracle & SQL Server

12) Windows or Linux Servers?

linux vs windows hosting

linux vs windows web hosting

Windows and Linux platforms are very similar in function. Most web hosting servers run on Linux server. Unless your website requires ASP scripts or SQL server, then go with Linux. In general, Windows hosting plans costs more than Linux.

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4. What you should consider about the different type of web hosting


Free Hosting

What is Free Hosting?

  • Some Web hosting companies offer a free reduced sized package for free. Free Accounts are designed as entry plans for future paid upgrades.
  • Free hosting and domain.
  • Many popular CMS platforms like WordPress and Joomla offer free web hosting for web publishers to get started blogging or building a website.


  • Suited for Beginners with non-commercial websites
  • FREE  and easy to start.
  • Include enough webspace/bandwidth for a small site


  • Some free hosting plans may include Advertisements
  • Limited bandwidth web space
  • Limited Support
  • Limited No of Databases/Email accounts.
  • Heavy marketing from host to upgrade to paid packages

Recommended For

  • Free web hosting is mostly popular with bloggers and small non-commercial websites


  • Free web hosting is not considered a viable solution for business owners or websites that require custom content development, eCommerce facilities, and domain name support.

Shared Hosting

What is Shared Hosting?

  • Shared hosting is a type of plan where your website will share one web server with lots of other sites. It’s 1 physical server and its resources (CPU, Memory, Bandwidth) are shared among many different users. As you share the server, web hosting companies can offer you a very cheap plan.


  • Cheapest type of hosting plans
  • Most shared plan include premium features like one-click application installs, unlimited web space/bandwidth
  • Easy to use web-based Control Panels
  • Fully managed


  • Your site will need to share website performance with other websites. This can lead to slower website speeds!
  • In General, the hardware specification for shared hosting plans is slower.
  • Limited Customization for professional users.
  • Single point of failure with one server
  • Lower levels of security
  • Limited access to the server.

Recommended For

  • Beginners
  • Blog / WordPress
  • Small / Medium e-commerce shops


  • High Traffic Sites
  • Commerce Business
  • Require custom customisation

VPS / Cloud Hosting

What is VPS / Cloud Hosting?

  • Virtual Private Servers (VPS) or Cloud Servers provide web hosting shared through multiple different servers. Similar to sharing resources with other websites on shared hosting plan. The key difference is that you share resources over multiple different servers instead just the one. Typically this means better performance and speed vs shared hosting.


  • More Speed and performance vs Shard Hosting
  • Benefits of performance of multiple servers
  • You can fully manage your server.
  • Dedicated server CPU/memory and webspace
  • In General, VPS/Cloud plan have better Server hardware specifications vs Shard (more CPU, memory etc)
  • Easy to upgrade when your site requires more resources


  • More expensive vs Shared Hosting
  • Fewer resources than a dedicated server

Recommended For

  • Growing Websites
  • High traffic sites
  • Medium/Large eCommerce shops


  • Very small/basic websites

Dedicated Hosting

What is Dedicated Hosting?

  • Dedicated Hosting is like having your own house. Allows for faster performance, as you have all the server’s resources entirely, without sharing with other website owners


  • More Speed and Performance vs Shard Hosting & VPS/Cloud Hosting
  • Ability to manage large amounts of traffic
  • Ability to control your own server
  • Add custom customisation – install any operating system and software
  • Premium Support
  • Full root access


  • More expensive vs Shared Hosting/VPS Hosting
  • Requires Skilled Administrator – You need to manage your upgrades & security

Recommended For

  • High traffic sites
  • Medium/Large eCommerce shops
  • Commercial Websites


  • Very small/basic websites
  • Beginners skill level

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5. Try our Web Hosting Adviser tool

Our Web hosting Advisor Tool will help you find the most suitable web host. Just answer a few hosting related questions and from your answers, the comparethehosts.com wizard can calculate which web hosting companies would work best for you.

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6. Review our editor’s choices

your website hosting

The team at comparethehosts.com (David, Harpreet, Isabella & Mike) have spent time and money to provide our readers with a guide for web hosting. We aim to inform and educate our users regarding webs hosting and then assist and advise on the best web hosting plans.

Choosing a web host can be a tricky process, mainly because there are so many different companies, plans, types of hosting.

Therefore we have gathered and arranged all the top-tier web hosts and the plans.

We recommend viewing the editors choices:

Our Top Tier Web Hosting Choices


1and1 Web Hosting

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Pricing & Plans
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InMotion Hosting

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From $3.49

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From $15

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Dreamhost Hosting

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From $7.95

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Go Daddy Hosting

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From $2.99

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