Buying your domain is not the only thing you must do in order to get a website up. Many people are confused between purchasing a domain – the name of your site – and purchasing the server space to host your site, known as hosting. There is basically one rule for purchasing hosting:
Purchase Your Hosting from a Hosting Provider, Not a Registrar
Your Registrar will likely make it very easy for you to purchase hosting. Many registars now offer hosting packages in addition to hosting. The important thing to know is that some companies are registars first, and hosts second, and some companies are just hosts (or hosts first, and registars second). You want to purchase hosting from a company who started as a host, because they will be hosting experts. Registars are not normally hosting experts. There may be exceptions – GoDaddy appears to do both fairly well – but, for the most part, using your registar to host your website is a terrible idea. You will have all sorts of technical problems – including downtime.
You can expect to pay anywhere between CAD$4 and $20 per month for hosting. The amount you pay depends upon:
- the host you purchase from (not all hosts are created equal)
- the amount of server space you purchase (after all, this is what you are paying them for), and
- the additional services you purchase (for example, some hosts charge for email services).
Both Dreamhost and Siteground, the hosts I use, are not the cheapest but among the most reliable, which is what you want. Speaking of which:
The most important issue with hosts is “downtime,” which is the amount of time in a given year that your site’s server is “down” (i.e. not working). You should judge a host primarily not on cost but on how often it’s down. Hosts will (and should) publish their downtime information. You want a host which is “up” 99% of the time or more. If the host doesn’t tell you it’s average downtime/uptime, do not purchase hosting from this company.
If you are setting up a WordPress site, there are hosts specifically dedicated to hosting WP sites. Here are some great ones: