There are two parts to hosting a website that new business owners often get confused about.
Registering your Domain Name
Your Domain Name is your URL (www.yourwebsite.com). This is the address of your website. Technically, when you register a domain name, you are not buying it, you are renting it. You will need to renew ownership every year or few years depending on the package you buy.
It is a good idea to ‘buy’ your own domain name rather than have your webmaster do it, so that you have control of it. Your domain will need to be regularly renewed. If you do not renew ownership of your domain, it becomes available and someone else could buy it.
Whois.com is a database of all the websites on the internet. When you own a domain, your Whois contact information needs to be regularly updated. ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, will send verification email to the owner of any site that has not updated their contact information. If you do not respond to this email, your site could be shut down.
Find out who owns a domain by doing a search at www.WhoIs.com
Note: Many times you can register your domain on the same site that provides your hosting. But this is not always the case.
Your website is made up of a collection of inter-linked, digital files. In order to give people access to these files, you’ll want to host them on a server that can be accessed by users of the internet. If you want to own and manage your own website, you’ll want to research the best hosting site based on the following:
Price – Hosting typically runs between $50-$100 a year for a basic website hosting package. Since free hosting usually includes ads, your site will have more credibility if you buy a hosting package.
Space – The space you’ll need depends on what functionality your site will have. If your site is primarily informational without a lot of interaction, 10-20MB should be enough space to get started. If you will have interactive features on your site, such as video, photos, forums, eCommerce, Flash Files, you may need as much as 100MB of space.
Security – you want your site to be protected from malware & viruses. Make sure your site will be backed up regularly and is protected from hackers.
Tech Support – if you are having issues with your site, how easily can you talk to a person? If you are managing your own site, tech support can be critical.
Customer Reviews – do a search to see if there are bad customer reviews of the host. You can tell a lot from the experiences of other users.
Do your research – there are several sites that regularly review web hosts. Work with your web master to find out what you need this will make it easier to find the right host.