When you build a website, there are two basic features that you must have. The first is the domain. This is your website’s address. You will need to purchase your domain from a company called a registrar. It is a one-time purchase. However, if the domain that you want to buy is already in use and someone else owns it, then you need to negotiate with the owner if you want to try to purchase it. Aside from a domain, you also need hosting. Hosting is the server space where your site’s software will reside. You pay for hosting by the month, and it is equivalent to renting out office space for a physical business. Your hosting determines things like how many people can visit your site at once and how often your site goes down for maintenance. In general, getting more capacity means you need to pay more per month. You can also get bulk discounts if you want to control many sites at the same time, and sometimes you can obtain domains through your hosting provider as well. If you view your hosting provider as your Internet landlord, it is clear why it is so important to pick the right one. Hosts offer different tiers of service to give you more options.
There are several characteristics to consider when comparing hosts for Joomla sites. First of all, avoid free hosts. Free hosts fill your site with ads that they control, and they also tend to shut down due to lack of income. So they are unreliable and can distract visitors. Moving on to paid hosts, the first thing to examine is uptime. Your host should guarantee at least 99.5 percent uptime, and promise you a refund or discount if your site is offline more than that. Next, look at the bandwidth. This is a measure of how much data your site transfers to and from visitors. More visitors and more content means you need more bandwidth. You don’t need more than a few GB to start if you are not using music, video, or complex graphics. Disk space also matters: that is how much space the host gives you to store your site content. In addition to these capacity concerns, your host should also have 24/7 tech support and permit you to use all of the following software: FTP, PHP, Perl, SSI, .htaccess, SSH, MySQL and Cron. You might not need some of it now, but if you cannot use some of it when you need it, then your site will suffer.
There are options beyond the basics when it comes to hosting. One of these is the Virtual Private Server, or VPS. The basic hosting plan, which is called shared hosting, involves many people sharing the same computing resources. There might be many sites stored on the same physical server. When one of those sites gets a lot of traffic, the others might experience slowdowns as resources are redirected to the big site. Virtual Private Servers are different. You get guaranteed resources and capacity, but you give up some of the tech support. This is because VPSs are under your control: you function as your own tech support because you decide what software runs in your space and how it works. In practice, many hosts provide some support for VPS customers, but they might not guarantee it. You should consider using a VPS plan for hosting your website if you are tech-savvy or don’t want to share your capacity with other customers of the host. For Joomla, this might be a little too involved, but as you gain experience it might become an attractive option.
Managed hosting is a different kind of hosting plan. It is still shared hosting, but the difference is that managed hosting is more favorable to specific kinds of site-building software. If you know in advance that you want to build your site using, for example, Joomla, then a few of the big-name hosts will offer a managed hosting plan for Joomla. This plan will provide you with server space that already has Joomla installed and ready to go. The host will automatically update Joomla for you. The main advantage is that these sites tend to be faster than using Joomla in a regular shared hosting plan. The managed hosting plans also tend to come with extra software like a special interface, but these extras are typically irrelevant, because you will be using the site builder’s interface. If you want to try managed hosting, your first priority should be making sure you get a significant speed increase at a reasonable price. The larger and more complex your site is, the more you will benefit from managed hosting. If your site is small and simple, there won’t be many gains available because it will be fairly fast to load already.