Website hosting basics

hostI get a lot of questions about website hosting…why do you need it, what is it, who should do it…here are answers to the most common questions.

Why do you need website hosting?

The answer to that is simple – without hosting, no one can visit your website.

What is website hosting?

Hosting is basically rented server space. You are buying space and bandwidth on a server that’s connected directly to the Internet. The space is used to store your website files – code and images – and the bandwidth is the amount of data that’s transferred each time visitors come to your site.

The more visitors you have, the more bandwidth you will use. If you have streaming media like audio or video stored on your site, you’ll use up more storage space AND more bandwidth.

Who should host my site?

You have many options for hosting. Generally, what’s most important is uptime, so that your website never goes down, and support in the (hopefully) rare instance that you do run into problems.

The recommended option is hosting on a server in a secure data center. Data centers have multiple connections to the internet, multiple power sources, 24×7 monitoring and onsite staff, and the ability to correct any issue quickly. With a good hosting vendor, your website will experience almost no downtime.

You can host your website on your own server, but unless you have a data center in your office, you will have a tough time maintaining the same level of website uptime. It also introduces potential security issues to your network.

What you should avoid, at all costs, is hosting that’s done by a small IT shop in their back office or someone’s basement. No matter how good you think they are, they are unlikely to provide the same level of reliability.

Don’t dismiss your local tech without asking a few questions…they may be set up with hosting in a data center, in which case this can be the best of all worlds. They have a trusted relationship and will manage the vendor relationship for you. It simplifies your life because you only have one call to make – to the company you already know – and they will take care of any issues for you.

Cut energy costs with green computing

green-computerEven if you don’t care about the environment, you can save energy – and money – by thinking green. Data centers spend so much of their budget on energy that they are now one of the biggest proponents of eco-friendly technology. When you run thousands of servers round the clock, even small improvements add up fast.

How about the average small business? Electricity costs for a dozen computers and a server or two can easily run into thousands of dollars each year. By using power management and a few extra tricks, you can drop your energy use dramatically.

Here are five energy saving tips that anyone can put in place:

  1. Adjust your computer’s power management: allow it to shut off your display, stop the hard drive, and go into sleep mode after it’s been inactive for a short period of time.
  2. Upgrade your equipment: LCD monitors require half the energy of a CRT monitor, and laptops – if appropriate – are far more energy efficient than desktop models.
  3. Try dimming your monitor for additional savings. You may even find it’s easier on the eyes.
  4. Unplug chargers when not in use, or get a power strip you can easily switch off. All those gadget chargers draw power regardless of whether you actually have the gadget hooked up.
  5. Only use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) on equipment that needs it, like your computer and monitor, and check out new models that are smart enough to know when your computer is turned off so it can shut down power to peripherals that aren’t in use.

Even if you don’t run a green business, these simple changes will net you the kind of green you are sure to love: more cold hard cash.