Part 09: Buying Hosting & Setting It Up
If you are doing this for the first time this can be the most technically daunting of all the tasks that you have to do. I will never forget doing this for the first time as I had no clue what I was actually doing – but I got there in the end and so can you.
Before buying your hosting, it is important to understand why you need it and what to look out for when picking a hosting provider.
Why do you Need Hosting?
When you build your website it will contain files and folders and those need to be stored somewhere. Usually they will be stored on what is called a “server.” That server needs to be “always ready” as being online, safe and secure. That is what hosting companies provide. They essentially sell you space on their servers to hold the files and folders of your website.
When you buy your domain name, then you need to point that domain name to your allocated space on their server. This is done using what are called nameservers. It is actually a very simple thing to do, but sounds technical.
What Makes a Good Hosting Company?
There are thousands of hosting companies out there who offer a whole range of different types of hosting. It can get really complex. The bottom line for most people starting out is that they need good quality hosting which does not cost a lot of money. I would also recommend that is has the capability of being able to add on other domain names if you decide you want to add and build more websites in the future.
The single most important thing to consider is that you will always want your website to be live so that people can find it and access it. Hosting companies refer to this as “up time” and they should all guarantee 99%+ uptime.
Web hosting companies offer 4 main tiers of hosting ranging from shared hosting all the way up to Virtual Private Servers. For anyone starting out a shared hosting is all that you will need.
That shared hosting needs to have enough storage, bandwidth, a control panel, security and a good customer service should you ever need it. Here is a list of 4 good UK providers:
- 123-Reg – business package for £2.99 a month
- GoDaddy – currently have a deluxe option for £2.99 a month
- Easyspace – StarterPlus at £3.99 a month
- 1&1 – Starter at £2.99 a month
Please note there are always offers available and prices will vary depending on when you make your purchase. The important thing to note is that the cost is low at around £3-4 per month. There is no need to pay any more than this amount of money to get a good quality hosting service.
As I have a number of websites I use a larger package than this. However when I started out I used a shared hosted package like I have outlined above. When you start to build up more websites, it is a simple operation to upgrade to a larger hosting capacity.
Starting out though and for one website a simple shared hosting package is more than enough.
Domain Name & Hosting
You have two choices here:
- Buy your domain name and hosting from the same company
- Buy the domain from one company and hosting from another company
Does it make a difference?
It does not actually make a lot of difference either way. I buy my domain names at GoDaddy but I host my websites with another company as I have always had a good experience with them.
If you decide to buy your domain name and hosting from the same company then when you buy your hosting, you simply add the domain name to the hosting package and your website is all linked up. It is very simple.
If you buy them from separate companies then you have to tell the domain provider to point that domain name to your hosting server. This is a little more work involved but also easy to do.
For my website I will be pointing my domain name to my Hostnine account as that is the hosting company that I am with.
Buying Your Hosting
As with your domain name you will need to create an account with your chosen hosting company. All you have to do is go to their website and register.
If you decide to buy the domain and hosting from the same company, then you just need to set up one account. If you want to keep them separate then you will need to set up an account for the domain and one for the hosting.
When you register then pick the package that you like the best. Just remember if you think you might build more than one website, then get a package that allows unlimited domain names. I would recommend a shared hosting package when starting out as explained above.
Then you pay for your package. You will then receive an email from your hosting provider that contains important information. It will have your login details, the nameservers and ftp details. For now the login and nameservers are all that matters.
With many UK hosting providers, you will also find a live chat service on their website. Do not be afraid to tell them what you are looking for as they are very helpful and can guide you easily through this process.
If it is the same account for the domain name and the hosting then all you have to do is simply add the domain name to the hosting and you are finished with the set-up. The company that you pick can also help you through this process.
If you opt for separate accounts for your domain and your hosting then you get an email from each company. All you need to do is point the domain name to the hosting account.
To do this, open up the hosting email you will have received and make a note of the nameservers. There should always be 2 of those. They will have this type of structure
Then login in to your domain name account and find a tab that will say something like manage domains. In the image below my domain is with GoDaddy and under the domain name, you will see settings, and under that Nameservers. They are always set as a default of domaincontrol.com. This is what needs to be changed.
You can see that my new domain is pointing to two nameservers which are not where I want that to be. To point them to my hosting nameservers, I just click on the “Manage” link in the nameserver’s section and a screen like this will appear.
I then change the setup type from standard to custom and click “enter custom nameservers.” I then add my own nameservers from my hosting company and click ok. It now takes up to 24 hours for that to happen. In my own experience I find it is always done in under an hour.
You will get another email from your domain provider telling you that the change has been requested.
When starting out keep it simple and do not get over technical about this. The hosting providers I have shown all have UK phone numbers so give them a call. Tell them that you are starting out and want a simple package.
They will walk you through the process and it is actually rather simple. The important thing here is not to get stuck on this if you come across any problems. Get in touch with the help desk and they will fix this for you very quickly.
Knowing Your Control Panel
Almost every hosting company uses what is called a cPanel to allow you to control your hosting account. When new people first log in to this it looks like something out of Star Wars. Please do not be put off because it is again rather simple to use when you become acquainted with it.
In here you can install your content management system, set up your email accounts, and add sub-domains and a range of other features.
All I ever do is log into my hosting account add the domain name, set up an email and install WordPress as my account management system. Depending on who you pick as your hosting provider the cPanels will all look slightly different in design? They all will contain those important elements though.
Adding a Domain Name
If you have your domain and hosting with the one provider then this is simply a matter of adding the domain to the account. They will have videos showing you how to do this or you can call them.
If you have different companies then your hosting company will have a video showing you how to add a domain from your cPanel. It is normally a button that says “Add Domain” Click that and follow the instructions. All that is required is to add your new domain and click “Add.”
I always set up an email and on my website I have set up “enquiries@the perfectgrind.co.uk” The image below shows a snapshot of my cPanel and the email accounts button.
Other cPanels may look different but some type of email creation will be available.
This email will be used on my website at my contact page when we build out the website. Again this is a simple process as it will ask what email you want to create such as “info” “enquiries” “support” or anything you choose. The email address then becomes email@example.com. All you have to do is set a password and your email will be ready.
You can then read any emails by using one of the web style emails or set it up to link into a main email service such as Microsoft Outlook.
In the next section I show you what WordPress is and why I install that as my choice of a content management system.
To build your own website you need to buy a domain name and hosting. For some people this is a technical element and it can easily put people off from taking action. Please do not let that happen as it is just a process that needs to be followed. In my case I bought the domain name theperfectgrind.co.uk
Buy a simple and cheap shared hosting package for around £3-4 per month. You can buy your domain and hosting from one company or buy the domain from one company, and the hosting from another. If you pick this option then you will need to point the domain name to the nameservers of your hosting account. In my case I pointed my new domain name to my existing hosting service using nameservers.
On the Cpanel of your hosting account you will need to add the new Domain and also set up an email address. When that is done then it is just a matter of installing a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, which I cover in the next section.