Business Times of Edmond, Oklahoma January 2020 - Page 30

BUSINESS MATTERS TIM PRIEBE W ebifiable How Does Website Hosting Work? I f you’ve ever been involved in the building of a website, part of what you pay for — likely on an ongoing basis — is website hosting. If you’ve ever wondered what all is included with website hosting, you’re not alone. A couple times a year someone who isn’t a client of mine will ask me if they really need to be paying anyone for website hosting. The short answer? Yes, you need website hosting if you want your website to be online. So what is website hosting? When someone builds a website for you, it has to be online somewhere. A website is just a bunch of files. While you could store those on a USB thumb drive, they won’t do you any good unless other people can access them. So you put them on a web server that’s set up to host websites. In practice, there are a number of different ways that can work. In the traditional model that was essentially the only one around when I made my first website back in 1996, you paid someone to develop a website for you, then you paid monthly or yearly for website hosting. In that website hosting model, you’re just paying for the space on the hard drive. Yes, the company you pay will keep their server’s operating system up-to-date. But they won’t touch your actual website. Over time, some companies developed proprietary systems to run your website. These content management systems — or CMSs — remained proprietary because the company that built your website also 30 January 2020 | The Business Times required you to host with them. And if you decided you didn’t want to work with them any longer, you most likely lost your website. Other options like Wix and Squarespace came onto the scene eventually. Those types of services have you — or someone you pay — use their proprietary tools to build your website. The plus side is that you aren’t tied to the specific person or company who built your site, but you are tied to the hosting of Wix, Squarespace, or whatever the service is they used to build your site. The option that I usually — but not always — recommend for business and nonprofits is an open source platform like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. You can still build the site on your own or hire a professional to help you get better results. But once the site is built, you’re not tied down to one company to help with it or to host it. Yes, you have to pay someone to host it, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the company that built it. Open source systems like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal also give you far more power over the capabilities of your website. Not everyone needs that much power, but if you do they can be a great choice. Of course, with that power comes more responsibility. Those types of system are far more likely to break. And while the traditional model of hosting can work for those systems, that means you’re on your own when it comes to fixing any issues. Enter a newer model of hosting, managed hosting. Simply put, managed hosting does everything that is included in traditional hosting, plus they help support those more powerful website systems. Usually managed hosting includes keeping your software backed up, up-to-date, and free of conflicts. It may also include helping you update the actual content on the website. The price range of all these hosting options can vary greatly. Traditional hosting is often less than $10 a month, while managed hosting can easily be 10 times that amount. Which is the best hosting option? It really depends. If you use a digital marketing expert, there’s a decent chance they’ll be using one of the open source systems that are more powerful. In that case, traditional hosting could cause you headaches over time. Managed hosting would require more of a monetary investment, but would cause less actual problems and stress over time. TIM PRIEBE is an online marketer, a public speaker, the author of several books and many articles, a Christian, a painter, a Superman fan, a Star Trek geek, a father to three boys, and a husband to one wife. He has run T&S Online Marketing since 2003, helping business and nonprofits with their digital marketing. He can be reached at tim@tandsgo.com or 405-285-0348. For more information visit tandsgo.com.