How to Host a Website in 2022 | The Complete Beginner’s Guide

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Task time:
4 - 5 hours
Difficulty:
Easy

This page is a guide for website beginners on how to host your website. Every site, however big or small, needs good hosting. It pays to get it right. There are two ways to host a website: pay someone else to do it for you or you can do it yourself. Or, to put it more technically:

  • Use a hosting platform
  • Host locally

We recommend paying someone else to do it for you and using a hosting platform like Bluehost. Hosting platforms take care of all the technical stuff so you can focus on your site. Setting up your own server is a good learning exercise, but it can get complicated and requires a lot of time investment.

This page will walk you through both methods of hosting a website, with some nods to which providers meet different needs best. By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to get hosting. On we go…

Option 1: How to Host a Website with a Provider

Follow these four simple steps to host your website with a hosting provider:

  • Step 1: Compare hosting companies.
  • Step 2: Choose a website hosting company.
  • Step 3: Choose a website hosting plan.
  • Step 4: Register a domain name.

Warning: steps 1 to 3, can take a lot of time and research; even when you’ve found a hosting company, you then still have to choose between their many plans and services. But we can help here: use our free, custom-built hosting plan picker quiz below to find your ideal hosting company and plan by answering a few questions.

Find the best-suited hosting plan for your site in less than one minute

Take Our Free Quiz!

Step 1: Compare Hosting Companies

A hosting platform is a company that takes care of hosting for you. In exchange for a monthly fee, the provider houses your site’s data and manages the demands of its traffic. They are cheap, consistent, and (crucially) they take care of the technical considerations. There are dozens of hosting platforms out there, if not hundreds.

The first step to hosting your website is comparing providers. Size up the options and see which ones align with your technical requirements and your budget. To help you along, we’ve conducted our own research to see how popular web hosting platforms hold up. Below is a data-driven ranking of our top five hosting providers.

Best Overall Hosting Provider

4.8

out of 5
Top Choice
Types of Hosting

4 out of 5 stars

Hosting Features

4.2 out of 5 stars

Disk Space

5 out of 5 stars

Uptime

3 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

3.5 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

4.7 out of 5 stars

Best Help & Support

4.7

out of 5
Types of Hosting

4.2 out of 5 stars

Hosting Features

4.1 out of 5 stars

Disk Space

5 out of 5 stars

Uptime

4.5 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

4.8 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

3.5 out of 5 stars

Best for Security Features

4.5

out of 5
Types of Hosting

4.2 out of 5 stars

Hosting Features

5 out of 5 stars

Disk Space

5 out of 5 stars

Uptime

3.5 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

4.7 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

3.8 out of 5 stars

Best Hosting Features

4.4

out of 5
Types of Hosting

5 out of 5 stars

Hosting Features

5 out of 5 stars

Disk Space

5 out of 5 stars

Uptime

2.5 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

1.25 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

3 out of 5 stars

Best for Types Of Hosting

4.1

out of 5
Types of Hosting

5 out of 5 stars

Hosting Features

4.25 out of 5 stars

Disk Space

5 out of 5 stars

Uptime

2.5 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

5 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

3.9 out of 5 stars

Chart Features Explained

Types of Hosting  The variety of hosting types available. There are various types of hosting (more on this below), and some providers offer more of them than others. A high score here means a healthy number of hosting types are available. The option to upgrade is very useful in hosting.

Hosting Features  There is more to web hosting than just ‘hosting’. From site backups to WordPress integration, there are a whole lot of features that separate the bush-league hosts from the pros. High scores here mean the provider is feature-rich.

Uptime The reliability of server uptime. This is essential for web hosting. If people can’t access your site at all times, all the great features in the world don’t amount to anything. No one can offer 100% uptime, but anything less than 99.90% should be avoided.

Help & Support  This scores the customer support resources. 24/7 phone and chat support, knowledge bases, and tech tickets all factor in. Even with the most reliable providers, it’s good to know experts are on-hand should anything go awry.

Value for Money  ‘Cheap’ and ‘good value for money’ are not the same thing. Hosting platforms love to flaunt low prices, but it’s never that simple. Added costs, freebies, and money-back policies complete the picture. We’ve weighed price against features to give you a sense of value.

bluehost logo

Our Top Rated Hosting Provider was Bluehost

Bluehost is our overall winner due to it being consistently cheap yet feature heavy.

More Information

Step 2: Choose a Website Hosting Company

Once you’ve had a look at the top hosting companies, you need to pick one! Here’s a quick comparison table for you to browse through the key features:

Swipe right to see more
0 out of 0

Bluehost

HostGator

InMotion

DreamHost

A2 Hosting

Overall rating
4.8
Overall rating
4.7
Overall rating
4.5
Overall rating
4.4
Overall rating
4.1
Starting from

$2.95

Starting from

$2.75

Starting from

$2.29

Starting from

$2.59

Starting from

$2.99

Uptime

99.98%

Uptime

99.99%

Uptime

99.97%

Uptime

100%

Uptime

99.95%

Money-back guarantee

30 days

Money-back guarantee

45 days

Money-back guarantee

90 days

Money-back guarantee

30 days

Money-back guarantee

30 days

Free backups
Free backups
Free backups
Free backups
Free backups
Free domain
Free domain
Free domain
Free domain
Free domain
Storage space

50GB – Unlimited

Storage space

Unmetered

Storage space

100GB – Unlimited

Storage space

50GB – Unlimited

Storage space

100GB – Unlimited

Bandwidth

Unmetered

Bandwidth

Unmetered

Bandwidth

Unmetered

Bandwidth

Unmetered

Bandwidth

Unmetered

There are a number of features you should consider when choosing a website hosting company. We’ve provided an overview of these in our rankings breakdown above. Below are some of the key factors to consider:

  • Uptime 
  • Support 
  • Free domain name 
  • Value for money 
  • Bandwidth 
  • WordPress integration 
  • Money-back guarantees 

What features you should focus on depends on your priorities. Some, like uptime and value for money, are always important. Others, like a free domain name, may not matter if you have one already. Different providers shine in different areas. Bluehost is especially good for WordPress sites, while DreamHost’s uptime is an absolutely top notch 100%.

Our hosting plan picker quiz will help you commit to a hosting company with confidence

Take Me to the Quiz!

Step 3: Pick a Website Hosting Plan

Once you have a host platform you like the look of, you still need to narrow your decision down to a plan. There are numerous types of hosting (shared, cloud, VPS, dedicated and more), and there is usually a selection of plan tiers within each type. For example, HostGator has three shared hosting plans Hatchling, Baby, and Business.

But first things first. Let’s be clear on what the different types of web hosting are and why it’s important to know the difference. Getting the best deal possible depends on you understanding your needs.

There’s no sense in signing up to a $10 a month plan when a $3 a month plan will serve you just as well. Your site may grow to need that $10 plan, but why sign up earlier than you have to?

Below, then, is a brief overview of the main types of hosting and the brackets they typically serve best.

Hosting Type What is it? Who's it for? Recommended Provider
Shared Hosting Shared hosting is when multiple sites are stored on one server. Sharing the space is more cost effective, but it also means resources are finite. Small and starter sites with modest technical demands. If in doubt, start here and upgrade as your site’s demands grow. HostGator: Baby Plan
Cloud Hosting Cloud hosting is when your site is powered by multiple servers. It’s a much more flexible system than shared hosting. If one server goes down, another picks up the slack. For sites starting to outgrow their humble origins. Cloud hosting copes far better with traffic spikes than shared does. It’s a good half-measure if you want to scale up but not not take the plunge of dedicated hosting. A2 Hosting: Lift 4 Plan
Virtual Private Server (VPS) VPS is a halfway point between shared and dedicated servers. You share server space with other sites, but a section of it is entirely yours. This is a step beyond cloud. You’re really getting somewhere now. This mixes flexibility, scalability, and power. These plans are great if you’ve outgrown shared hosting but are still not yet ready to go dedicated. Bluehost: Enhanced Plan
Dedicated Hosting Dedicated hosting is where you are the sole tenant of a server. You get all those resources all to yourself. This exclusivity costs, but it’s worth it if your site is resource-intensive. This is the big leagues. If you’re just starting out you won’t need anywhere near this tier of plan. Not yet anyway. Bluehost: Standard Plan

Most web hosting providers offer all the main hosting types, but others, like WPEngine, are specialists in one type. If you expect to grow into different types of hosting that’s something important to keep in mind.

How much do these plans cost? Good question. As a rule of thumb, shared hosting is cheapest, followed by cloud, then VPS, then dedicated. The variety of hosting types (and plans within those types) mean price increases gradually. Bluehost’s shared hosting starts at $2.95 per month. By the time you get to its premium dedicated plan you’re looking at $249.99 per month.

We can match you to the ideal hosting plan for your site in seconds

Take Our Free Quiz!

You’ll be relieved to hear that we recommend starting closer to the $2.95 end of the spectrum. Start there and look up until you find a plan that fits your specific needs. You can always upgrade further down the line.

Step 4: Get a Domain Name

It’s all well and good having a plot of internet land, but without an address no one will be able to find it!  A domain name is your digital address. Ours is websitebuilderexpert.com. Google’s is google.com. You get the idea. Your site will need a domain as well.

Nearly every web hosting provider includes domain name registration in its signup process. Sometimes it’s included as a freebie in the plan you’ve chosen (Bluehost, for example). With others you’ll have to pay for it separately (A2 Hosting). Alternatively, you can purchase your domain from specialist domain name registrars such as Domain.com and link it to your hosting account.

A good domain is simple, easy to remember, and usually number-free. Don’t feel bound to the .com convention either. More and more sites are playing around with atypical top level domains like .xyz or .co. So long as it fits with your brand, you’ll be fine.

If you already have a domain name it’s simply a case of attaching it to your new server. Many hosting platforms include this in the signup process and handle it for you.

It bears mentioning that you do not lose your domain name if you change web hosting companies. They are different services. If you change web hosts you can always take your domain with you.

bluehost logo

Bluehost Was Chosen By The Experts

Bluehost got a score of 4.8/5 overall, this was because it was consistently great in most categories we tested!

Option 2: How to Host a Website Locally

Hosting a website yourself is a more hands-on approach, and not nearly as reliable. It’s an excellent education in how a website works, but that’s as good as it gets. Connections are slow, maintainance falls entirely on you, and your computer will need to be on all the time. Not ideal. That said, if you’re here you must be interested in the option, and it costs nothing to find out.

There are two ways to host your website from home:

  • Use your Windows PC as a WAMP server
  • Use a Linux machine

We’ll walk you through both approaches. Please do keep in mind that this is not an option for beginners. Free hosting is an attractive prospect, but you really do get what you pay for. Unless your home happens to be a data center we recommend using a hosting provider.

Hosting a Website Using your Windows PC as a WAMP Server

The Windows approach means turning your computer into a WAMP server. WAMP stands for Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP — the elements that make up the server. In our research the top Windows hosting providers were HostGator and A2 Hosting. But let’s guide you on how to get set up:

Step 1: Install WAMP Software

There are are number of free programs available (WampServer and XAMPP to name a couple). Download and install one, sticking with default settings where prompted. The software allows your computer to act as a server — a home for your website’s files.

Step 2: Upload Site Files

Once you’ve installed WAMP software you’ll need to add a site to it. Once you open the dashboard this is usually found in the ‘www directory’. This is where website files are housed. Your HTML should be written up in text files with the extension .php. Add these to the ‘www directory’ to add them to your site.

Step 3: Make your Website Public

Your initial tinkering on a self-hosted site will be private — only you will be able to see them. When you’re happy with what you’ve done, go to ‘Apache’ and selEct the ‘httpd.conf’ file. Make sure the settings read as follows…

Order Allow,Deny
Allow from all

… and you’re up and running!

Hosting a Website Using a Linux Machine

In our research of the best Linux hosting providers we found the top providers to be Bluehost and HostGator. Let’s get into how to host with Linux:

Step 1: Install LAMP Software

The other approach is setting up a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) server. This is largely the same process as WAMP but on a Linux computer. To get started type the following command in the Linux Terminal:

  • sudo apt install apache2 mysql-server php libapache2-mod-php7.0

During installation you may be asked to provide your MySQL password, so be sure to have it handy. Once the software is installed you’re ready to configure your server.

Step 2: Configure Site Files and DNS

Like with WAMP, you add files to the root directory to add them to your site. Again, be sure to use the .php file extension. It’s best practice to ensure PHP and My SQL are working correctly.

Step 3: Configure Apache

For your server to allow visitors to visit your website, you need to tell Apache to accept their requests. This involves setting up a directory and tweaking permissions.

Summary: How To Host a Website

And that’s it. Simple right? Follow these steps and you will be signed up to a web hosting service ready and waiting for your site.

If you’ve made your decision with one eye on the future which you should the plan you have chosen will have excellent support and be easily scalable. We usually recommend Bluehost as it has scalability in mind with some of the best dedicated plans on the market.

Just remember to really understand your website hosting needs, and go for the best hosting provider for your specific website needs.

Now you can focus on the really import thing your site. Make sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or just want to share your successes!

bluehost logo

The Well Rounded Hosting Provider, Bluehost

Bluehost also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so give it a try to see if it suits your needs.

FAQs

It depends on your needs. Bluehost was the overall winner in our research, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one worth considering. For pure cheapness iPage wins out, while large WordPress sites often use WPEngine. It all comes back to your needs.
Anywhere from a couple of dollars a month to hundreds. If you’re just starting out there’s no reason to be paying more than $3 to $4 a month. As you site grows in popularity, you will need to scale up you hosting plan accordingly.
Much like the host of a party, a website host gives you an internet space to have fun creating a website with. It’s where internet visitors “go” to interact with your website.

On a more technical level, the host provides you with storage, bandwidth, domain, and all the things required to have your website up and running on the internet.

Slow website, hardware and software maintenance, electrical bills, constantly changing IP address, computer always have to be on… just to name a few. It’s a lot of work for an inferior service. Hosting providers exist for a reason, so take a look at our expert comparisons of the best hosting providers to learn more!
Nope. Most websites use professional hosting services. Netflix and Reddit are hosted by Amazon, for example. You can only really make a case for self-hosting when you’re Google-level enormous – which we hope you will be one day! But for now we’d recommend going with professional hosting providers.
Yes. Most WAMP software allows you to install content management systems on your server. WordPress is by far the most popular option, but the likes of Drupal and Joomla are options too.

Website Builder Expert aims to provide you with honest data. That’s why we conduct our own research and obtain direct, personal insight. Analyses and graphics in this article are based on authentic sources cross-validated by our in-house experts.

We take great care to ensure the information we publish is reliable and accurate. However, WBE takes no responsibility for any inaccuracy in information supplied to us by users, research participants, or other entities.

Please note the insight contained within this article is for general information purposes only. We’re glad to answer any questions you may have about this article and its supporting research. For further information, please contact Website Builder Expert directly via email at info@websitebuilderexpert.com.

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