Before you even begin setting up your website, you will need to get a hosting package. There are both free and paid options here, with the paid options being far superior to the free ones, but nonetheless, you can get away with free hosting if you need to.
What IS hosting?
Ok so for the total beginners out there, let me just explain what hosting is. All websites that we visit have to be stored somewhere, so that when we try to visit them, there is a place for our internet connection to download them from. Websites have to “live” somewhere, and inside a hosting account, or in a physical sense, on a server, is where they live.
You need hosting or your website cannot function. With that in mind, you will need to choose a reliable host. Let me run through your free and paid options.
With free hosting you will typically have a very low limit for the size of your site and the traffic that gets allowed onto it. You see, each time someone visits the site, the server is used to send over the bits and bytes that make the website come up on their screen. If you’re not paying for hosting, the organization providing the free service will not allocate you large resources because they would lose too much money from it. So what they do is they give you a bit of space and only a small usage allowance. This makes free hosting a perfect option if you want to make only a small site that you do not expect to ever really get a lot of traffic visiting it.
If you’re serious about your website and you believe it could eventually take on a lot of traffic, then you will definitely want to go with a paid hosting option. And the great thing is that there are lots of options! You could go for a super cheap hosting package at only a few ZAR a month, or you could go with dedicated server which could cost you thousands a month, or anything in between those 2 extremes. There are just so many hosting companies out there at the moment that whatever you specifically want, it is out there. Assuming that you are a small business wanting to set up a site that may get intermediate levels of web traffic, I would say that choosing a plan that costs around 1000 ZAR per year would be just right. And of course with a paid package you are much more likely to get decent customer support, so that if you don’t really know what you’re doing, someone can be on hand to assist you. Overall I would say that if you plan to profit financially from your website, go with a paid hosting plan.
In terms of recommending hosting companies, there’s too many to choose from for me to give a decent answer! Hostgator are quite good, as are Bluehost.com. Then there’s DreamHost who totally suck. There’s just so many of them, so choosing a specific hosting company is beyond the scope of this website, but if you just follow my guidelines you will find the right solution just fine!