How to Host a Website (with a Hosting Company or Locally)

Hosting a website simply means making sure that your website can be accessible on the World Wide Web (WWW). This is usually done in one of two ways – you can:

  1. Pay for hosting with a web hosting company, or
  2. Host it yourself at your own server

We will look into both methods in this article.

1. How to Host Your Website with a Hosting Company

5 simple steps to host a website

Here are the five steps to host a website with a hosting service provider.

  1. Decide which types of website you are building
  2. Compare web hosting types
  3. Select web hosting providers and plans
  4. Purchase a domain and web hosting plan
  5. Create or move your site to the server

Using a service provider is the simplest way of hosting a website. You can pay a small monthly fee and rely on the service provider to take care of all your equipment, infrastructure, and other associated needs.


  • Usually cheaper
  • Support is often readily available
  • No need for hardware maintenance
  • Higher reliability


  • May be some service restrictions
  • Fewer choices in hosting locations

1. Decide which type of website you are building

There are two main types of websites; static and dynamic.

Simple static websites can be built using a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) application and then transferred over to the hosting account.

Dynamic sites are mainly application-driven and make use of scripts, databases, and other tools to generate some portions of the site on the fly. WordPress and Joomla are examples of common Content Management System (CMS) apps that are popular today. Others such as Magento and PrestaShop are used for eCommerce websites.

Hostinger Pricing
Your web host selection depends on the type of website you are building. A budget web host like Hostinger ($1.99/mo) would be sufficient for a simple static website; whereas dynamic sites will require more server resources.

2. Compare Web Hosting Types

What is a web hosting?

A web hosting is a computer where people store their websites. Think of it as a house where you store all your stuffs; but instead of storing your clothes and furniture, you store computer files (HTML, documents, images, videos, etc) in a web host.

What is the role of web hosting company?

Web hosting company rent out their computer/servers to store your website and provide Internet connectivity so that other users can access to the files on your website.

Much like there are many different categories of cars, website hosting also comes in various flavors. For example, shared hosting is the cheapest and easiest to manage – they are akin to the compact cars of the world.

As the type of web hosting scales up, so too does the cost involved and often the complexity of managing the hosting account. For example, in VPS hosting you would need to manage not just the hosting details but also environment that it is being hosted in.

Three types of web host

In a nutshell, the most common types of hosting are

  • Shared Hosting
  • VPS/Cloud hosting
  • Dedicated Server Hosting

Shared vs Virtual Private / Cloud vs Dedicated Server Hosting

In terms of performance and management, each web hosting type also has their own pros and cons so choose yours accordingly.

Shared Web Hosting
Shared Hosting is often cheap and easy to manage but does not come with advanced controls and is not able to handle high volumes of traffic. You can get shared hosting services from A2 HostingHostingerGreenGeeks
VPS Web Hosting
VPS / Cloud Hosting is more expensive and very versatile. Users can install almost anything they will need on these accounts and be able to cope with varying volumes of traffic depending on how much resources are paid for. You can get VPS or Cloud hosting services from Digital OceanInterserverInMotion Hosting.
Dedicated Web Hosting
Dedicated Servers are the most complex to manage and cost the most. They are very powerful and can be managed right down to the hardware level by administrators. AltusHostInMotion Hosting, and TMD Hosting provide dedicated hosting services.

What is WordPress Hosting? Or Prestashop / Magento / WooCommerce Hosting?

It’s important to know that web applications and web hosting are not the same thing.

Some web hosts offer plans such as WordPress Hosting, PrestaShop Hosting, WooCommerce Hosting, and so on. These are not really hosting types, but intended to attract laymen who may not be familiar with real web hosting terms. These hosting offers merely entice users with the names of popular web applications.

For example, not many people might know the difference in hosting types, but many will recognize the term ‘WordPress’.

The type of web hosting you will need is typically defined by:

  1. The volume of traffic you expect on your website, or
  2. Any specific needs your website might have.

Most websites which are just starting out will typically have low traffic volume (i.e. few visitors) and shared hosting accounts will be fine for those. Most shared accounts will also come with application installers (such as Softaculous), but to ensure that your needs are met, ask the host if the application you want can be installed on the account you’re looking at.

3. Choose and Purchase a Web Hosting Plan

Even within hosting types, service providers often have a variety of plans available. The key difference in these plans often lie in the amount of resources that each gets. The more resources your site has, the more visitors it can handle.

When it comes to resources on web hosting, we are typically referring to three core items – processor (CPU), memory (RAM), and storage (HDD or SSD). These however do not always translate to good performance of a web host.

In the past there hasn’t been an easy way to gauge the performance of a web host. Most users had to rely on reviews which unfortunately, normally only take snapshots of a host’s performance and seldom update that. To get past this, try using HostScore, a site which constantly rates the performance of web hosts based on ongoing data collection. This means that their web host performance assessments are much more accurate.

Also keep a look out for value added features such as free SSL, domain name, advertising credits, an included website builder, or other items which can help you build or market your site.

A2 Hosting Pricing 2022
Some web hosts also offer other advantages on more expensive plans such as special optimizations or enhancements. A good example of this are the shared hosting plans on A2 Hosting. The most expensive plan on that series come 20X ‘Turbo’ speeds.
Hostpapa Welcome Email
Usually right after you purchased a web host, you will receive a welcome email with details on your login credential and name server. Keep this email in safe – you'll need the information to configure your domain and login to your server control panel. Screenshot showing my welcome email from HostPapa.

After testing and reviewing more than 60 hosting services in the past, I was able to narrow down some best hosting options for different use-cases. Check them out at:

4. Purchase Domain

What is a domain name?

Where your web hosting is the actual space your website files sit on, you need a domain name so that users can access your site. The domain name acts like your address on the WWW. Like real addresses, each is unique.

Domain name is not something physical that you can touch or see. It is a string of characters that give your website an identity (yes, a name, like human and businesses). Examples of domain name:,,,, as well as

What is sub domain? What is TLD? What is domain name?
Domain Name explained.

How to own a domain name?

To own your own domain, you will need to register your domain with a registrar.

Many web hosting plans today will come with a free domain name, so make sure to check if that is applicable with the web hosting you intend to buy. If so, you can take care of the domain name at the same time as when you pay for your web hosting plan.

If not, you’ll need to buy a domain name separately. This can be done either from the same place that you bought the hosting plan or other service provider. If you need to buy the domain name separately, I highly recommend you look elsewhere.

Domain names are not fixed price items and often go on sale. Some providers often have cheap sales on domain names and if you’re lucky you can pick one up for a steal. Namecheap for example often had domain names on offer at up to 98% off.

The exception to this is if you are a first time site owner. In that case, buying a domain name and hosting from the same service provider might make things easier for you to work with as a beginner.

5. Move / Create Your Website to Server

Free website migration support - example.
Example: To initiate a website transfer at GreenGeeks, login to your user dashboard > My Services > Site Migration Request > Select a Service.

Once your domain name and web hosting plan is ready it’s time for migration. Site migration can be complex, so if you’re doing this for the first time, ask for help from your new host. Some web hosting companies offer free site migrations.

If you have built your website locally (on your own computer) then simply transfer our files onto your web server. To do this you can either make use of the File Manager in your web hosting control panel or make the transfer using an FTP client.

The process is similar to copying files from one place to another on your own computer.


To recap, here are the steps to host your website with a hosting company

  1. Decide which types of website you are building

    There are two main types of websites – static and dynamic. Simple static websites can be built using a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) application and then transferred over to the hosting account. Dynamic sites are mainly application-driven and make use of scripts, databases, and other tools to generate some portions of the site on the fly.

  2. Compare web hosting types

    In a nutshell, the most common types of hosting are: Shared, VPS, Cloud, and Dedicated Server Hosting. Shared hosting is the cheapest and easiest to manage. As the type of web hosting scales up, so too does the cost involved and often the complexity of managing the hosting account.

  3. Select web hosting providers and plans

    The key difference in web hosting plans often lie in the amount of resources that each gets. The more resources your site has, the more visitors it can handle. Also keep a look out for value added features such as free SSL, domain name, advertising credits, an included website builder, or other items which can help you build or market your site.

  4. Purchase a domain and web hosting plan

    Purchase your domain name and web hosting plan once you have decided.

  5. Create or move your site to the server

    If you have built your website locally (on your own computer) then simply transfer our files onto your web server. To do this you can either make use of the File Manager in your web hosting control panel or make the transfer using an FTP client.

2. How to Host Your Website Locally with Your Own Server

Hosting a website locally means that you’re in essence using your own location to set up a web server from scratch. This means that you are responsible for everything from the hardware and software all the way to bandwidth provision and other infrastructure needs.


  • Extreme control over your hosting environment
  • Potential for faster service turnaround times
  • Your choice of equipment and service providers


  • Can be very expensive
  • Not always possible in residential environments

Hosting a website in a local server is complex and can be very expensive. It is also often less reliable than hosting with a service provider. If you insist, below are the three steps to follow.

1. Select Equipment and Software

hosting a website at your own server
Sample of a HP SMB Server (source)

Basic server hardware can be very similar to the hardware on your own PC with some slight differences. In fact, technically, you could take your own PC (or even laptop) and turn it into a home web server if you really wanted to.

The key difference is in how reliable you want your web server to be and the visitor volume it can handle. As with service providers, you will need to keep an eye on processor, memory, and storage space.

If you opt for high-end server equipment such as rack server, you will also need to ensure that the specialized needs of this equipment is met. This includes in space, cooling, and power.

If you need the service to be more reliable you will also need to consider redundancy in hardware. For example, running your storage drives in RAID, plus active mirroring of backups onto additional drives.

Your other infrastructure equipment such as routers and modems will also need to be able to handle high loads of traffic.

For software, aside from your operating system you will need to also focus on your web server platform (at the moment, Apache and Nginx are the most popular on the market). This also means that you need to be responsible for not just configuring the software, but also for licensing.

2. Ensure Sufficient Bandwidth

Internet bandwidth is also vital to running your own server. In many cases, most of us are fine with standard Internet bandwidth since we’re using limited connections to the Internet. Imagine if 30 people were trying to use your home Internet at the same time – that, and perhaps more, is what you might be looking to support.

What also needs to be taken into consideration is your IP address. Most home Internet plans come with dynamic IPs assigned. In order to run a web server, you need a static IP. This can either be handled by a service provider such as DynDNS or by buying the service from your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Learn to calculate bandwidth you need

3. Develop and Deploy Website

The next part is similar to the experience of using a web hosting provider, except that you don’t get any support. Your web files need to be moved onto your web host in order for your site to start functioning.

Which Option is Best to Host Your Own Website?

As you can probably tell from the two examples here of using a hosting provider or self-hosting a website, the latter can quickly become incredibly expensive and complex. In reality, it is (believe me, I have done it before).

Aside from the satisfaction of having done it, there are few real benefits of doing so unless you are a business that has very specific needs for your site. Some of these might be legal or corporate requirements, for example.

However, web hosting service providers today have become very versatile and in many cases are open to discussing special needs with customers. In the majority of cases though, using a standard hosting plan is usually more than enough.

Managing Your Server Resources

Hosting a website – especially if you opt for hosting locally, is never a setup-and-forget task. Server resources management will become more and more important as your websites popularity grows. This is especially true when you have multiple websites hosted under the same server.

Some time ago we interviewed Marc Werne, staff member of Linux hosting provider, and asked for his advice on server resources management. Here are some of his tips on making your resources last.

1. Choose a lightweight CMS

You may want to use Joomla or Mambo so badly, but if your hosting stroage has less than 500MB, you may want to reconsider your choice.

WordPress or Drupal, for example, would make a lightweight, flexible alternative that will save you MBs of web disk and bandwidth. Often less is more and lightweight doesn't equal less functional. Make a chart of your alternatives and choose the CMS that mostly suits your needs and your hosting package.

2. For forum – Use miniBB instead of SMF

MiniBB only takes less than 2 MB against the 10+ MB of SMF, yet it's a complete forum solution with a meaty repository of add-ons, extensions and plugins.

Not fond of miniBB?

There are several lightweight alternatives against bigger forum scripts. PunBB, FluxBB and AEF to cite a few. Also, plan the scope of your forum before installing any solution: if your goal is to reach thousands to millions of users, an upgrade of your hosting package may be required. If you want to keep the forum staff-only or aimed at a small number of users, by all means use the resources you have available at your advantage.

3. Use a third-party newsletter provider

Install a newsletter software on your limited web hosting account and it will start eating up your disk and bandwidth. Unfortunately there is not much to do about it, and the smallest available newsletter script — OpenNewsletter — is still 640Kb and you'll have to count in all the storage issues, too.

In comparison – MailChimp, a complete newsletter solution starting at zero cost if your target audience is less than 2,000 subscribers and you aim at sending not more than 12,000 emails per month.

All templates can be customized so you don't need to host your own, and you can integrate the newsletter with Facebook.

Good alternative to MailChimp is Constant Contact, whose only limit is given by subscription options – people can only signup from your form.

4. Employ a caching system

The majority of small business and personal website owners on a low budget opt for shared hosting packages in order to save on investment. Sometimes an upgrade is by all means necessary to increase performance and welcome a wider audience and the traffic it generates, but if you can't, you can save server resources by employing a caching system that doesn't overload your CPU.

WordPress users can install Swift Performance but if you don't use WordPress you should try to optimize your website cache with the tools made available by your CMS vendor. For instance, Joomla can count on Cache Cleaner or Jot Cache; while Drupal has several cache performance tools as well.

5. Regularly empty spam content

Get rid of spam in the form of emails, blog comments, pingback URLs and files that overload your servers and database quota.

Do it at least once a week to avoid memory issues (e.g. WordPress comment deletion only works up to a memory of 64MB, after which you'll get a fatal error and you will have to either increase the allowed memory size in your PHP.INI file or in wp-config.php within your WordPress root).

6. If possible, use external databases

If your host allows remote database linking, by all means use it. External databases help lighten usage of your web disk quota because they store your content outside of your hosting account. However, keep in mind that remote databases can be quite expensive and a hassle to the end users.

7. Use third-party file hosting services

Host all things downloadable on an external file hosting service, such as Photobucket, Vimeo, YouTube, Giphy, and so on.

You should not allow your visitors, clients or readers to upload content on your servers if your resources are limited.

8. Regularly download and delete log files

Log files were created to keep you informed of your website health, but there's no use of them on the server: if you don't download and remove them at least once a week, their size will grow to occupy several megabytes to a GB. This is especially true of two cPanel logs:




The error_log file usually includes dynamic errors such like PHP warnings, database errors (illegal collations, etc.) and spam comments that didn't go through. Check this file weekly for errors and warnings, then remove it.

The /awstats/ folder, on the contrary, contains all access logs and statistics logs for your website. You should disable the AwStats software in your account to avoid webspace usage increase as the program automatically stores its stat files, or if you can't because of restricted privileges, you should contact your host and ask to disable all analytics software.

Frequent Asked Questions

What is a web host?

Web hosting is more than simply the space your website sits on. It also encompasses software needs and costs, along with bandwidth and a ton of other micro-needs that need to be managed.

Why everyone is hosting their website with a hosting company?

Web hosting service providers have set up environments that are dedicated to hosting websites. They are optimized for this purpose and because they do it in bulk, they often are able to provide the service much more cheaply than the self-hosting environment.

Is domain name a must to run my website?

A domain name is the address of your website. Without it, your users will have no way to get to your website unless they know the exact IP address. Learn more about how do domain name works.

Does GoDaddy host websites?

Yes, GoDaddy is a web services provider and one of its products is web hosting.

Is shared hosting enough for my site?

If your website is new, a shared hosting is usually more than enough. The capacity of a shared hosting differs from host to host. Some web hosts, for example, A2 Hosting, have very strong plans even among shared hosting options.

How many types of hosting are there?

There are four main types of web hosting are shared, VPS, Cloud, and dedicated hosting. Each offer varying degrees of performance, reliability, and security.

Which type of hosting is best?

“Best” is relative – what's best for my website might not be right for yours. Typically if you are new, a shared hosting should be the “best” place to get started. Dedicated servers are most powerful types of hosting but they are most expensive too (hence not recommended for newbies).

Can I use WordPress on my web host?

Most web hosting service providers today allow you to install a variety of popular web applications. This usually includes WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and a host of others. To be sure the application you want can be installed it is best to check with your service provider.

Why is my website slow?

Website speed can depend on many factors. One of these is how well your website is optimized. To learn what is affecting your site performance, use a tool like WebPageTest or GT Metrix. Running a test here will break down the details of load times, enabling you to identify lag points in your site’s loading time.

How does hosting a website work?

Hosting a website involves a web server that is designed to serve your website files to visitors over the world wide web. The key components involved are the files of your website, a web server, and a domain name via which your site is accessed.

What is cloud hosting?

Like the name implies, shared hosting accounts ‘share’ the resources of a single server. In Cloud hosting, multiple servers pool their resources into a ‘Cloud’ and these resources are then portioned out onto Cloud hosting accounts.

What is managed hosting?

Managed hosting is a type of web hosting where the service provider takes on the responsibility of maintaining the technical performance of your account. This will usually encompass technical and software updates.

After your web host is ready

Photo of author

Article by Jerry Low