If you want to have a website, you must purchase two things: a web host and a domain name. Choosing the company you buy your hosting from is no small potatoes. Costs, features and reliability vary wildly. If you leave it to me I will use one of the companies below. If you’re not sure, I’m happy to discuss.
A Quick Definition of Web Host and Domain
In short, the web host is the physical address of the actual server, while the domain is the url, e.g. NameOfYourSite.com.
These are totally different products, but many companies try to lump everything together so they can sell you more stuff.
What Is a Domain?
If there were no domain providers, going to a website would require typing in a number, much like how we use phone numbers today. Instead we have domain providers, who essentially sell a nickname that knows to connect to your particular web host. You should be able to buy a domain for less than $15 per year. But once you buy a domain, hold onto it forever!
What is a Web Host?
Your web host is the computer where your website lives. It is not a software or system, it is a physical location in the world where you rent space on a computer. It serves up web pages, so we call it a server. The difference between your own computer and a server is that your computer goes to sleep when you aren’t using it. But a server stays awake 24 hours a day so that your site stay up too.
For this reason, web hosts are never free. It requires electricity to run all these computers, and that costs money. Web hosts cost about $4-40 per month. The ones I use are on the low end. If this is your first site, you don’t need an expensive host…and price and quality are not correlated when it comes to web hosts!
In setting up your website, the host is the more important consideration. You can get your domain from just about anywhere and it doesn’t make too much difference. But it’s very important to choose a good web host.
Web Hosts Pay Referral Fees
You often can’t trust web hosting advice on the web because web hosts pay referral fees to websites that recommend them (AKA affiliates). Many people post ads to the most popular web hosts so they can get a referral fee when someone clicks on their link.There’s nothing wrong with getting a referral fee, but it does give someone a reason to make a recommendation even when they haven’t done the proper research.
I am an affiliate for the companies I link to on this page, but my stake in this is bigger than a referral fee. For one thing, if I endorse a crummy web host, that reflects on me. More importantly, if I have to contact their support on your behalf, I want to be dealing with someone who knows what they are talking about! Honestly the top names in web hosting provide an awful experience at a terrible price. If I can help my clients to support a better company while also saving them a buck, that means so much more to me than an affiliate fee. But I would appreciate if you choose any of the companies below that you get there by clicking on the link on this page and/or using futureisfiction as a code at check out, so the sale gets linked back to me.
I can set this up for you, but if you want to do it yourself, these are the companies I recommend.
Web Hosts I Recommend
Currently I recommend either Stablehost or GreenGeeks. I have also had a fantastic experience with WPEngine, but I’m not endorsing them because they cost ten times as much (starting at $35/month) as the perfectly cromulent web hosts below.
A few years ago, Diane Presler had me research web hosts for her educational project Learn HTML with Song. I ended up with five solid hosts. One was bought out, one went under. Of the other three remaining, Stablehost was the most affordable, so that’s the one I used when I set up a new hosts for a clients.
(If you’re wondering about the other recommended hosts that came out of the research, they were GeekStorage and Liquid Web. I’m not endorsing them only because I have more experience with the companies below, but they are probably also fine choices [Liquid Web is costly]).
Stablehost doesn’t have chat support, so you will have to wait for an email reply. But those replies are always thoroughly competent and knowledgeable. I’ve worked with them for years and never had one complaint. This is the company I used for most of my clients before I discovered GreenGeeks.
As an affiliate for Stablehost, if you use the code futureisfiction at checkout, I get a referral bonus and you’ll get a 50% discount on your first purchase.
Click the banner below if you want to purchase hosting with Stablehost.
While working with Kristen Caven I’ve gotten to know the GreenGeeks web host and I liked it so much I signed up to become an affiliate. Their customer support is fast and effective. No discount on sign up, but their standard price can’t be beat. They offer staging and even give you one free domain. And they offset all their carbon emissions!
I still like Stablehost but I would be thrilled if you choose GreenGeeks. I have used them for numerous web sites, and I never been disappointed with their support. They have chat support, and it is real, not that fake chat support where it’s just a bot.
Where to Purchase Your Domain
Most web hosting companies will also sell you domains. If you want to purchase your domain from one of the web hosts above, that can simplify matters (currently purchasing from GreenGeeks includes a free domain).
I use NameSilo because they have a good reputation, they’re priced competitively, and they let you keep your address private for free—your actual address, not your url. (You must list a physical address to have a website. Many companies will list their own address, instead of yours, for a fee.)