What is Web hosting? How do I Setup Web hosting for my website or blog?

If you are a beginner and do not understand the intricacies of web hosting, this post will act as a quick guide. I will first explain the concepts of web hosting and then show you step by step on how to setup web hosting for your website or blog.

I will assume that you have absolutely no idea what web hosting means and how it is done. I will also assume that you want to setup web hosting for your website or blog and my article below will be guided with the above two assumptions.

First of all, what is web hosting?

Before defining the term web hosting, we have to first understand how a website works. Web hosting is a process of putting a website “somewhere”, so that it is accessible by anyone who has an internet connection.

Let’s First understand how a website works.

A website is nothing but a collection of files and data which is stored in some computer. Just like you are reading this article in your computer or mobile device, there is a computer somewhere which has stored all the files and data that this website is using. The files include the HTML, CSS, JavaScript and other files that are needed by the website to load and show it’s content.

When you enter a website’s address in the browser address bar or click a link, a request is sent from your computer’s web browser to load the files and the data of the website in question. Here is a sequence of events which happens when you click on a link or manually enter a website URL in your browser address bar

  • You clicked a link somewhere on the web.
  • Your computer’s browser got your request and sent a request to the domain name. For example, if you entered Google.com in your browser’s address bar, your browser will first send a request to the domain name of Google which is www.google.com.
  • The moment the domain name get’s the request from a browser, it traces that computer where the files and data of the website is stored. If you have a domain name, you can mention the address of the computer where the files of your website is going to be stored.
  • Once the computer is traced where the files and data is stored, that information is relayed to your web browser through the internet. If that computer is not available, then you will see a “Page not found” error.

The actual process is far more complicated but we will not discuss those details here. I will keep the concepts simple, so you actually get what web hosting really is.

Now that we have learned how a website is loaded in your web browser, there is one thing we know. In order for you to have a website, you will need to store the files and data of your website in a computer and when someone requests a page on your website, that computer has to do its job and fetch the necessary files.

Now, you can setup a web server in your own computer and host your website. That is perfectly doable but most people do not use this option for the following reasons

  • A web server requires knowledge of how to maintain the server. If you do not have the knowledge of maintaining a web server, it is better you do not do it on your own since you will most likely mess things up.
  • The computer which you will use to host your website must be connected to the internet all the time and must be powered on. If  for some reason, the power goes off or the internet connection breaks, your website will not be accessible to other people.
  • The computer which you will use to host your website must be protected from virus, trojan and other intrusions. It is better to use Linux operating system but you can also use Windows to run a web server. In any case, that computer cannot be affected by software or hardware failures.

Web hosting

Web hosting is essentially renting your website in someone else’s computer so that you do not have to worry about all these technical and maintenance details. There are many web hosting companies out there whom you can use.

Basically, you avail a hosting plan for your website, tell your hosting company how much space you need and pay the fee. Once your hosting account is in place, you can upload all the files of your website from your computer to your web hosting computer and forget about it.

That way, you do not have to maintain that computer all the time and neither worry about technical aspects of managing a web server, since your web hosting company will do it on behalf of you. All you need to do is pay the yearly or monthly subscription fee and the web hosting company will do all the hard work of maintaining the web server for you.

Watch the following YouTube Video to understand what webhosting is and how it works

How do I Setup Web hosting for my blog?

To setup web hosting for your blog or website, you need to buy a hosting package from a reputed web hosting provider.

Given below is a list of web hosting provider you can choose from. Each hosting provider provides several hosting packages which will suit your needs. Depending on the size of your website and other technical requirements, you will need to choose a suitable hosting package from your web hosting provider.

If you are not too sure, which hosting package to choose, please feel free to drop in a comment below. I will look into your website and suggest a hosting package for you.

Please also note that there are literally thousand of hosting providers out there and the company you choose completely depends on your requirements. I have given a brief list of the most popular hosting providers, but you are free to choose a specific hosting provider based on your individual preference.

When you visit a hosting provider’s website, you can  use the “Live chat” feature on the website to talk to the sales and technical team before buying a hosting package. Most companies have a “Beginner” plan which you can avail and slowly upgrade your web hosting as your site grows bigger in size.

Once you have purchased web hosting for your website or blog, you will get a welcome email from your web hosting company which will contain all the details you need to configure your web hosting account, cpanel, upload files, setup databases and so on. Your web hosting company website must have tutorials and how to guides which you can read to learn how to setup your website with your web hosting company.

Getting Your Website Live, After Your Web Hosting Account is setup

Web hosting is just one part of getting your website live, there are other parts as well and I will explain what they are.

First of all, you will need to register a domain name for your website. A domain name is nothing but an address which can be typed in the web browser and then the domain name will contact your web hosting provider and fetch the files of your website.

Once the domain name is setup, then you will need to use a content management system for your blog or website, to setup the files  and database in a proper way. This depends on what type of content management system you want to use for your website and can vary depending upon your requirements.

Once you have setup the content management system properly, and setup your domain name with your web hosting provider, your website is live and accessible to anyone.

This entire process is not that simple if you are an absolute beginner, so I will give you step by step instructions so you know how to get this thing done and have guidance in each step. In brief, here are the steps we will follow

  • We will first purchase a domain name for your website
  • Then we will purchase a web hosting package for your website
  • We will then map your domain name with your web hosting account.
  • Finally, we will install a content management system (WordPress) in your web host and make the website live.

Let’s Launch Your Website Now – Step by Step Instructions 

Let’s do it step by step, so you know exactly what needs to be done at each step.

You will need two things to get this done.

  1. A computer with a working internet connection.
  2. An email address.
  3. A credit card with at least $50 balance in it.

I will assume you have absolutely no knowledge on how to setup website hosting and I will guide you in each step. I will also assume that you do not have a domain name and do not have an existing web hosting account with you. If you already have a domain name and a web hosting account, the following instructions still holds but be sure to skip the steps where I have mentioned to purchase a web hosting account or domain name.

For my instructions, I will be using the following services:

  • Godaddy for purchasing a domain name
  • Hostgator for purchasing a web hosting package
  • WordPress for installing the content management system on your website or blog.

We will follow the following steps.

  1. We will first learn how to purchase a domain name for your website or blog
  2. We will then learn how to purchase web hosting for your website or blog
  3. We will then learn how to connect your domain name with your web hosting provider.
  4. We will then learn how to install a content management system in your website. In this tutorial, I will stick with WordPress as the content management system.
  5. We will then learn how to make the website live and accessible to anyone.

Let’s get started.

  1. First of all go to Godaddy.com, click on “Sign In” and then click on “Create an account”.If you already have a Godaddy account, there is no need to create a new one. Simply sign in to your account.
  2. Complete the sign up process and finish creating your Godaddy account.
  3. Once you have created your account, please make a note of the username, password and the PIN. You will need this information later on. Do not lose this information and save it in a secure location, preferably a password management application (I recommend using Lastpass)
  4. Inside your Godaddy account, search for a  domain name which you want to own. Most common domain names are already taken, so you need to find a domain name which is not already taken by someone else. This can be a little tedious and time consuming, so be patient and keep searching. Try different extensions to check to see which one is available.Please note that you cannot change your domain name later on. Once purchased, that domain name cannot be changed. You can however purchase a different domain name later on and map it with your website. That is a little complex which I will not explain in this tutorial.
  5. Once you have found a good enough domain name which you like, click on “Add to Cart”. Then Click on “Continue to Cart”.
  6. In the next page, you will be asked different options – whether you want to buy linux web hosting or whether you want to buy professional email. The default option chosen is “No Thanks”, so scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “Continue with these options”. Do not choose any option on this page yet, you can always do it later on. We won’t be needing these services right now, so skip all the options right away.
  7. You will then be taken to the CheckOut page. Choose the “Term” option as 1 year and then click on “Proceed to Checkout”
  8. In the next page, you enter your credit card or debit card information and click on “Place your order”.
  9. If you have entered correct details for your credit card and debit card,  your transaction will be processed and the domain name will be purchased. You will get an email from Godaddy confirming that your order has been processed and your domain name is ready to use.
    That’s it, you have completed the purchase of the domain name for your website.
  10. Keep the Godaddy tab open, do not close it yet. You will now need to create your web hosting account.
  11. Go to the Hostgator website and click on “Get started now” button.
    Don’t worry about things you read on the page, it is quite understandable that you won’t understand anything if you are a complete begineer. Just follow the steps for now, you can always upgrade and downgrade later on.
  12. In the next page, you will see three plans listed. First is the Hatchling plan, second is the baby plan and third is the Business plan. The cost of each plan will be mentioned at the bottom of each plan.
    Which plan do you choose? If you just plan to launch only one website, go with the Hatchling plan. If you want to launch more than one website, go with the baby plan. Avoid the business plan for now, since you are a beginner. I would strongly suggest you start with the Hatchling plan and upgrade later on.
  13. In the next page, click on “I already have a domain name”. Then choose the billing cycle. I would suggest you choose a yearly billing cycle but if you are not too sure about the prospects of running your blog or website, you can choose half yearly, quarterly or monthly billing cycle.
  14. Next enter a username and security PIN and make a note of this in a secured location. You will need it later on.
  15. Next, enter your credit card information and complete the transaction.
  16. You may skip the “Add additional services” and Coupon code fields.Click on the checkbox “I have read to the terms and conditions” and click on the “Checkout now” button to complete the order.
  17. That’s it, you have successfully completed your order for web hosting. Now you will receive an email from Hostgator which will contain information of your cPanel, nameservers and other things.
  18. Go back to your Godaddy account and click “Manage” next to Domains.
  19. Click the domain name you had purchased earlier.
  20. In the next page, scroll down and click on “Manage DNS”.
  21.  In the next page, click “Change” under “Nameservers”.
  22. Remember the email you got from your Hosting company, Hostgator.com. In that email, there should be namerservers associated with your Hosting account. Choose nameserver type as “Custom” and then copy those two name servers and paste it in the Nameservers panel of Godaddy account.Basically, you are telling your domain registrar that all your website files should be fetched from this nameserver. So when someone types your website address or clicks a link that points to your website’s address, the browser will find the nameserver and fetch the files from your web server acordingly. In future, if you want to change your web hosting provider, you have to come to this page and enter new nameservers of the new hosting company with whom you would choose to host your website’s files.
  23. Once the name servers are updated, click “Save”. It might take some time for the changes to take effect but no worries, we will take care of other things while DNS propagation takes place.
  24. The email you received from your hosting company has a link under “Your control panel”. This is the link of your web hosting control panel (also called cPanel). Click that link and login with the username and password given to you in the welcome email from your web hosting company.
  25. You will see a panel as shown below. Type file in the search box and then click on “File manager”
  26. In the next page, click the icon against “Public_html”.
  27.  The Public_html folder is the folder which should contain all your website files. At this time, you will most likely see a blank folder with nothing in it. That is all right, we will put all the files in the next step. We will  download a content management system and upload the same in this folder.
  28. Go to WordPress.org and download the latest version of WordPress. This will download a zip file in your computer.
  29. Click the “Upload” button
    This will open a new page where you need to click the “Choose file” button and then upload the WordPress zip file you downloaded in the previous step.
  30. Go back to the “Public_html” folder and click the “Reload” button. You will see the zip file you had just uploaded. Right click on it and click “Extract”
  31. This will extract the files and you will see a new folder called “WordPress”. You no longer need the zip file, so right click it and select “Delete”.
  32. Now double click the “WordPress” folder and go inside it.
  33. Once inside the “WordPress” folder, click “Select all” to select all files and folders. Then click on “Move.”
  34. In the next overlay window, enter the path as /public_html/ and click on Move. Basically, you are moving all these files to the root directory of your website.
  35. Once you have moved the files, click the “Home” button and you should see all the files in the “Public_html” folder. That’s it, all your files are now in place.
  36. Now that all your files are in place, you have to create a MYSQL database. If you don’t know what that means, it’s all right. You will eventually learn how to use it after learning how it works and what it does. Simply put, a MYSQL database will store all the information of your website in it. A website is built with files and data. You have already put the files in place, now you have to create the database and connect it with the content management system.
  37. Open a notepad file where you will store useful information while you create the MYSQL database.
  38. Go back to your cPanel account, type “MYSQL” in the search box and click the MYSQL wizard icon.
  39. This will open a Wizard where you need to create the database. In the first step, simply enter a name for the database. It could be anything e.g blog, website. Note the name of the database and copy it in the notepad fileWhen you are done, click “Next step”.
  40. In the next step, you will need to create a database user. Enter a name for the user, use the password generator to generate a password for that user and copy this password  in a safe location. You will need it later on.
  41. Click on “Create user”. Note the name of the user  and the password of the user and copy it in the notepad file
  42. In the next page, click on “ALL PRIVILEGES ” and then click on “Next step”.
  43. That’s it, you have successfully created the database and the user. Your notepad file should look like thisWe are done with the database part.
  44. Now open a web browser and type your domain name address. You should see the following screenNote: If you do not see this screen and a screen from your domain registrar, it is possible that the DNS changes have not propagated yet at your location. Sometimes, DNS changes can take 24 hours to propagate so you should wait and come back later to try again. In case you are not able to go beyond this step, please drop in a comment and I will personally help you out.If you do see the above screen, then continue to the next step.

     

  45. You have reached the WordPress installation screen. Click “Continue”
  46. In the next page, Click “Let’s go”
  47. In the next page, enter all the database information that you saved in a notepad file and click “Submit”
  48. In the next page, click “Run the install”
  49.  If everything goes well and your database connection is correct, you should see the following screen
  50. Fill in the details for your site title, username, email address. You can always change this later on. Do not check the checkbox “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”. Note the username and password carefully, you will need it to login to your website administration area.Once you are done, click on “Install WordPress”.
  51. That’s it, you have successfully installed WordPress content management system on your website. You should now see the login screen for logging into the administration area of your website. Please bookmark the address of this page, since you will have to use this page whenever you want to create new content or make changes to your website. So please bookmark it.
  52. Once logged in, you should see your website’s WordPress dashboard. This is the starting place where you can customize the website how you want. You can install themes, plugins, write content, moderate comments, add users and do all the things that are required to maintain and update your website.
  53. Now open your website address is a new browser tab and you should see your website live, with the default WordPress theme.

All done, you have successfully purchased a domain name, a web hosting account, you have mapped your domain name with your web hosting account and then you have installed a content management system in your website.

The next step is to customize WordPress and modify the appearance, settings and other aspects of your website. That is another comprehensive subject and I will not discuss it in this article for now. There are plenty of resources on the web which you can refer to customize your WordPress administration area, make necessary changes, install useful plugins, change the themes and optimize your site for performance and search engine optimization.

Get Professional Help

If you think you need professional help, feel free to let us know. We do help setup web hosting solutions for individuals and small business owners in exchange of a nominal fee.

Web hosting can be very complex for beginners and getting a website live might seem like a daunting task. If you still need professional help, do get in touch with us at hello@cultofweb.com. We will help you out.

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