Web hostingWhy Bluehost is my go-to solution
At the simplest level, “web hosting” refers to the computer — a web server — which stores the files that make up your website, and serves them to people who request them. Think of the web server as a waiter that serves pages and pictures instead of food.
Technically, just about any computer connected to the Internet could act as a web server. Heck, you could host a complete website right from your laptop. But now think about what would happen when your laptop is turned off, or booting up, or being updated, or not connected to WiFi. Anyone requesting your pages would be out of luck.
There could be other problems, too. Your laptop can only serve a small number of customers at once, or it will freeze. You might not have enough security in place to prevent hackers from getting into your website. Your hard drive could fail.
This is why there are web hosting companies. These services handle all of the technical details — security, backups, internet connections, software updates — and allow you to focus on your beautiful, nourishing pages.
Local “web hosting”
Some local website design companies list “web hosting” among their services. But are they really hosting your website — or merely reselling a plan from a national host?
When you think about all the equipment — servers, routers, backup power generators, internet infrastructure requirements, technical and security staff, and so on — it seems unlikely that a local design firm could afford such an investment. Instead, some website design companies simply resell a “white label” web host, marking up the price in the process.
On the other hand, If they really are hosting your website from their office closet, does it really have all the capacity and protection it should? Is your website safeguarded from the sort of serious mistakes a small operation might make?
You should be the master
Another hitch is that these webmasters sometimes keep strict control over the hosting account, insisting that they must be involved in (and bill you for) any changes at all made to your website. Things only happen on their schedule, at their price. It’s kind of like your website is locked in their dungeon.
I believe your website belongs to you. For instance, you should be able to add new email addresses if you want to — or even have a new web designer of your choosing work on your website. The hosting should be under your name, billed to your credit card, and you should have its passwords and ultimate control. I know of one case where a client was completely shut out of their own website because their webmaster had died.
Bluehost stands out
Over the years, I have worked with a variety of web hosting services. Sometimes, these experiences can be very frustrating. Common tools needed to make a particular feature of a website work might not be available. Software may be out of date. Some part of a website could be broken by a change the hosting company makes. It may be a very long wait on hold before a support person takes your call — and even then, the support person may not be able to help at all.
Having used Bluehost to host many websites, I have found them to be outstanding in terms of uptime, comprehensive selection of current tools, documentation, and overall value for the money. On top of all this, their customer service has been amazingly fast, friendly, and knowledgeable.
Disclosure: I am proud to participate in Bluehost’s affiliate program, which earns me payments for new accounts purchased via my referral links. I use Bluehost for most of the websites I build (including my own), and recommend them highly.