What You Need to Know
Web Hosting is the service of storing your website files, and 'Serving' them to the public. Your website 'Lives' on the Web Host. There are several kinds of web hosting. Shared, Virtual Dedicated and Dedicated hosting are the three most common configurations.
Most of our clients should shop for Shared Hosting with a Linux/Unix operating system.*
Before your website can go live, you will need to purchase a hosting plan, along with a domain name. The domain name is the www.YourSiteName.com. After purchasing, the web host will send you an email with all of your account login and FTP information. Once you forward this information to us we can take it from there!
Some good hosting companies are listed here. We use Siteground.com for our website, and have been very happy with them. Siteground specializes in Joomla websites, so installation of the system and updates is very simple. Cost is competitive and site uptime is excellent.
Here are some other good hosts.
If you are going to be selling products online, you will need to purchase an SSL certificate with your hosting plan. This will enable us to set up your website with secure, encrypted transactions.
More About Hosting
Shared hosting is the least expensive, and is quite sufficient for most of our clients. In this configuration, your website is stored on a computer (server) with several other websites. The storage space (hard drive) is partitioned, so that websites will not encroach upon each other. Most of the web server settings (within Apache or IIS) are shared by all the plans, so one cannot usually make very specialized changes to these server settings. Also, there is a limited amount of disk space for your site. Typically, you can find shared hosting plans with 1-3 GB of disk space. But this is plenty for most websites.
If you have a really huge website, you will need something bigger and more flexible. Dedicated Web Hosting gives you an entire server to yourself. This allows you to have complete control over the server setup and configuration, and the operating system. You also decide how to run your database, php asp.net installations. This is very much the same as running a server from your own home, except that the web hosting company will generally install Apache or IIS for you, and some will offer administrative services for setup and maintenance. If you don't hire someone from the hosting company to run it for you, you will be stuck with LOTS of work for yourself or Candyweb. It takes us about 30-40 hours to configure a dedicated server. Unless you know all about web servers, you really shouldn't try this yourself. The security and stability of your website depends on this web server configuration.
Virtual Dedicated Hosting bridges the gap between the above two options. Virtual Dedicated is also called VDS, Virtual Private Server or VPS. In this configuration, a single server is partitioned into several virtual computers, each with it's own operating system and web server. This hosting option allows you to have more control over your server options, but it costs less, because you're not using an entire computer. Some web hosts offer tools that make the setup and maintenance much less complex. This is a very good option for people who need more disk space or control, but don't want to handle the headache of a dedicated server.
There are also several other configurations. With VDS and Dedicated hosting, one can usually choose between Managed and Unmanaged plans. Managed plans will give you additional tools and help from the hosting companey, but is more expensive. Each hosting company has different options, and one can usually find a good, custom plan after a little research.
* We work mainly with PHP and MySQL. These work much better on a Linux or Unix environment. Windows hosting should only be used for ASP.net applications.