In 2020, it’s nearly impossible for businesses not to have a website.
They are the quickest and easiest way for customers to find your business. They help you reach people further out than local advertising could ever find and they can make sales for you without you having to lift a finger.
All you need to do is send the item or take down the appointment. Whether you have a trade business, a food business or even fashion business – you have the potential to grow online.
But there are a few technical details behind getting your website online. One of these is web hosting. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on what web hosting is and what the best types are for a new UK business to use.
What is web hosting and why do you need it?
Before we get started on the best types of web hosting, it’s important to know what it is. Web hosting is simply where your website is hosted, or stored.
Think of it this way: you’ve just taken a picture on your phone. Afterwards, your picture saves in your gallery. Whenever you want to view the picture, your phone loads the file from your gallery.
A website is similar to this. This will be saved as a file somewhere and whenever someone wants to view it, it’s loaded from that place. Only a website can be viewed by everyone and it’s not as small as a picture.
This is where web hosting comes in. They are basically places to save your website which can be loaded whenever someone wants to view it. Makes sense right?
What are the different types of web hosting?
There are different types of web hosting designed to suit different businesses. Most of these depend on the size of the website that you’re hosting and how much traffic you’re going to get.
If you’re setting up a simple website for a local hairdresser, you’re not going to need the same web hosting solution as a website like Apple. There’s no way that your website will be as big, or receive the same traffic as theirs. Sorry.
So, let’s dive into the different web hosting types.
1. Website builders
Website builders are an all-in-one service for people who don’t have the experience or time to build their own website. Generally, a website builder will offer:
- A domain name. This is the actual name of your website and how people find you. It’s like an address, for the web. For example, our domain name is www.Business4Beginners.co.uk. As soon as someone types that into the address bar in a browser, they’ll find us.
- Website hosting. Most website builders will host websites on their own servers. That means that they’ll look after the storage of your website for a set monthly fee. The exact price of this depends on which website builder you’re using and the plan that you’re on.
- The website builder. This is the part where you physically create your website. They’re usually made from a set a pre-made template that you choose from, already coded up without any experience required to use them. All you have to do is drag and drop the elements you want in place and voila! Your website’s ready.
If you’re thinking about using a website builder, read our reviews of the best 5 website platforms on the market here.
2. Shared hosting
Shared hosting is basically a shared server where your website is stored with others.
Generally, shared hosting websites tend to be cheaper because you’re only charged for a small cost of the server, rather than the whole thing. This is great for small websites like the ones that you would be using, as there’s little point in you paying for an entire server if you’re only going to use a small part of it.
The downside is that shared hosting tends to be slower as it’s not just your website the server needs to upload.
3. Dedicated hosting
Dedicated hosting is where you have an entire server to yourself. You don’t have to share it with anybody, meaning that it’s a lot faster than shared hosting.
The downside is that you have to then pay for an entire server itself – including the cost of maintaining it and making sure that it’s in working order.
It’s a lot more money to choose dedicated hosting. For most new UK businesses, this won’t be needed unless you’re building something that needs a higher than normal level of security or is a bigger than usual website.
4. Collocated hosting
This is similar to dedicated hosting, except that you buy your own server and keep it at a web host’s facilities.
You aren’t renting space off anyone. You’ll own it outright, which can make it cheaper than dedicated hosting. And you’ll have total control – but that means that you’ll also be responsible for it. If something goes wrong, you’ll need to fix it.
Most new UK businesses don’t have the IT resources for this type of hosting and well generally find it better to let someone else take care of this for you.
5. VPS hosting
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. It’s basically a way of having your own private resources on a shared server.
If you imagine that a shared server is a hotel, a VPS would be the private penthouse suite. This gets you faster responses and a more secure web hosting solution that simply using a shared server, without paying for the cost of your own dedicated server.
6. Cloud hosting
Now, this is where things get a little complex.
With cloud hosting, your website isn’t stored on one single server. Instead, it uses several shared servers to give your website the best performance.
The best way to think about it is that cloud hosting stores several copies of your website on different servers. When someone wants to view your website, any one of the free servers can be used to load it.
This is great if one server is down or busy – because there’s a backup version that’s ready to use. You don’t have to make your customers wait through slow loading times or temporarily have your site shut down if something happens to it.
Cloud hosting is great for businesses who plan to grow online – as you can easily scale your website without having to change the server plan that you’re on.
Shared hosting vs VPS hosting
Shared hosting and VPS hosting are both options that host your website on a shared server. So, it can be a little confusing deciding between the two of them.
Choosing between shared hosting and VPS hosting depends on the amount of traffic that you’re expecting to get.
If you’re expecting more traffic than the standard websites, a VPS solution will be right for you as it will be able to give you the speeds you need even if there’s a lot of traffic.
However, for most new UK businesses that are starting up, this level of traffic might not be you just yet, making shared hosting a cheaper and better option for your business. However, VPS is an idea to think about for the future if you outgrow a shared hosting solution.
Is cloud hosting cheaper than VPS?
No. Cloud hosting is more expensive than VPS.
This is because cloud hosting stores a copy of your website on several servers, meaning you have to pay for all these resources rather than just renting space on a single server.
Cloud hosting is faster, more scalable and has greater backup options than VPS. But like we’ve covered earlier, some of these features just aren’t needed for new UK businesses. If you’re getting started, it’s easier and cheaper to start with a solution like shared hosting or VPS, rather than splash out for cloud hosting features that you might not use.
Do I need unlimited bandwidth hosting?
No. Most new businesses won’t need unlimited bandwidth hosting because your website simply isn’t big enough for it.
Unlimited bandwidth hosting basically means that there’s no cap for how much data can transfer between your site and the servers. A lot of start-up web hosting solutions will give you a bandwidth amount, with unlimited bandwidth offered as the most expensive and pricey option.
If you’re new to web hosting, you might think that it’s always worth splashing out for unlimited data. But if you have a small, local website, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll use enough data to make it worth it.
The best web hosting for a new UK business
As well as web-hosting, you’ll also need a domain name. As we covered earlier, this is the actual name of your website and the address people will use to find you.
The two go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. If you’ve got a domain name, you just need to sort your hosting out. If you don’t have either, it might be worth considering a package that offers you both.
If you’re starting a new website, the chances are you don’t need that much server space to make it run. So, you may want to consider using a shared hosting service to save your budget while you get your online business off the ground.
Of course, getting your website up and running is only the first step. Find out how you can help convert your website visitors into customers here. More conversions, more sales, more profits. What’s not to love?