When building a website, one of the first tasks on your list is buying a domain and hosting. Sounds simple, right? Well it should be. And unfortunately some of these companies make it a lot more difficult than it should be. But I’m here to tell you that it can be simple as long as you know what you’re looking for.
Keep on reading to find out what you really need when buying a domain and hosting.
When you’re buying a domain, you can pretty much eliminate everything the domain registrar offers… with the exception of private registration.
Private registration, sometimes called WhoIsGuard or domain privacy, keeps your contact info private. You see, when you register a domain, your contact info is added to a public directory. Using Who.Is, anyone can look up any website.
Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my address and phone number all over the internet (fun fact: I didn’t know about domain privacy for awhile and let me tell you, those phone calls were annoying).
Privately registering your domain allows the use of a proxy, which means their address is used instead. If someone needs to get in touch with the owner of your domain, they use that contact info and your proxy forwards the correspondence to you.
Check out this post to learn more about domain privacy.
Not feeling private registration? Another alternative is to use a PO Box and a Google Voice number.
So you have a domain, now it’s time to buy some hosting.
PS: I recommend buying your domain separate from your host. This just makes things easier down the road when you inevitably choose to switch hosts.
Since you’re just starting out, you don’t need anything fancy. Forget private servers (unless you’re launching a massive website). More than likely all you’ll need is some shared hosting.
Shared hosting is when multiple sites are hosted on one server. Depending on your host, you may share a server with 10 other sites or 100s of other sites. Some hosts overload their servers, causing slow loading times. As long as you go with a reputable host (i.e. SiteGround), you should be fine though. And remember, you’re just starting out. You’ll likely need to change up your hosting in the future, but worry about that when the time comes.
Check out A Blogger’s Guide to Hosting for more info on hosting.
Storage and Bandwidth
If you think you can simply go to a host’s website, click buy under shared hosting, and be done with it, you’re wrong! It’s not that easy. And if it is that easy, you’re likely getting an unlimited plan, which doesn’t really exist.
When you go to purchase shared hosting, there will likely be a few plans to choose from. Let’s take SiteGround as an example. At the time of writing, they have 3 shared hosting plans: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek.
Beyond all the fancy features you may or may not get from each, there are 3 things you really need to pay attention to: how many sites you may host, storage space, and bandwidth (or amount of monthly pageviews).
If you’re starting out, you won’t need a lot and you can always upgrade when needed, but think about your needs right now and in the immediate future. If you plan on launching 2 websites right off the bat, their smallest plan won’t work for you. And if you have grand plans of hitting 100k pageviews a month, but you currently have no website, do you really need to go with the largest plan from the beginning? Probably not.
Now that you’ve bought a domain, chosen some hosting, it’s time to checkout and pay. And this is where hosts get you. They have all these recommended add ons. There’s email, SEO services, site builders, security scanning, backups, the list goes on.
I’m here to tell you that, you probably don’t need any of it. And if you do? Well you can usually add these things on at a later date. If you’re not sure what you need, skip it and decide later.
I will note though that if you do want to splurge on extras, the 2 things I would splurge on are security and backups. Having your site scanned for security threats is a good idea in my book. And you can never have too many backups.
Sidenote: if your host offers backups, still use a plugin to make your own backups. Hosts may not be obligated to keep copies, so it’s better safe than sorry.
As for email, I would stay away from purchasing that with your host. If you’re going to purchase email hosting, I’d recommend GSuite.
So what do you really need?
Ultimately what you really need when it comes to a domain and hosting is up to you. Each business is different, and thus has different needs. However, as a web designer who has helped a bunch of business owners launch their websites, I can tell you that realistically all you need is a domain with private registration and shared hosting with enough storage space and bandwidth. That’s it. And if you want to splurge, you can think about security and backups, but those aren’t mandatory and can often be done via plugins.