So you want to set up a website and suddenly you’re hit with all this technical jargon. In this article we’ll try and explain what this jargon is. First off, web hosting is a where you can host your own website. Put simply, you get either a bit or all of a web server and you can put your website on. Then people can access said website by typing in the server’s IP address (preferably you’ll have bought a domain so you can use things like example.com, much easier for visitors to remember).
This industry also uses many complex terms that may be confusing to a newcomer. First off, disk space is how much of the server’s hard drive you can use (if it says 5GB, you can upload 5GB of files). Accompanying this is almost always bandwidth which is a bit harder to explain. Basically it is how much data you can transfer – if you’re website’s homepage is 100kb including pictures, getting 100 visitors will use 10MB of data transfer. Next up, uptime! Most web hosts like to proclaim they get 99.9% uptime. This means that for 99.9% of the time your site will load completely fine and usually reliable web hosting providers offer 99.9% uptime guarantee. This also means for 0.1% time your site can be down – amounting to ~1.8 minutes/month. This is incredibly important – what use are lots of space and bandwidth if your site is down half the time.
Another two terms mentioned a lot in web hosting are MySQL and PHP. PHP should be supported on almost all webhosts and it essentially allows you to use .php files. This is important if you want to run any sort of web script (like WordPress), as almost all of them will use php. Chances are they’ll also need MySQL and if so, you want a host offering MySQL. This is a database platform and various web scripts like WordPress rely on it to store post information, login credentials and a whole load of other stuff. Check beforehand if your script requires MySQL – if it doesn’t it really doesn’t matter.
Finally they might market that they use cPanel. cPanel is widely regarded as the best (and one of the most newcomer friendly) control panel on the internet. A control panel will allow you to create databases, upload files directly instead of using FTP and create (and access) email accounts. All of which can be done in seconds. You should look out for a cPanel host – if it uses something else, try and scout out a demo and compare it to a cPanel interface. Most of the time they look similar but they might not perform as well and might be confusing. Still, don’t rule out a non-cPanel host as they tend to be cheaper (a cPanel license is extremely expensive, often costing ~$40/month per server – so you’ll probably be charged an extra dollar or two to recoup that money. So, a non-cPanel host tends to be cheaper. You might even get the option between that and another control panel. We suggest you read web hosting comparison of the web hosting providers.