Finding a Hosting Service

Having a domain name is just the first step. The second is actually finding a place to host your domain.

Think of it this way: the hosting service is the place on the Internet where your domain (and all of its pages and files) actually sits. It's the hard drive for your website. Finding the right hosting service is crucial. If your website will be getting a lot of traffic, you'll want to consider a host that won't crash when lots of visitors start coming to your website.

You've likely heard about hosting services that exist "in the cloud." This is just one type of hosting. Rackspace's blog has a nice FAQ about how hosting services differ.

You'll also want to make sure that the host you're choosing is capable of hosting the content management system of your choice.

Simple Hosting Services

These are low cost hosting options, all of which offer you the ability to create custom email accounts and install a variety of content management systems. For most small websites, these services will do. Over-the-phone customer service is included with all except DreamHost (which primarily offers help via email).
  • GoDaddy -- Offers the ability to buy hosting while you're buying the domain
  • NetworkSolutions -- Offers the ability to buy hosting while you're buying the domain
  • BlueHost -- Must be purchased separately from domain
  • DreamHost -- Must be purchased separately from domain
  • HostMonster -- Must be purchased separately from domain
  • GreenGeeks -- Must be purchased separately from domain

Advanced Hosting Services

Both of these are very reliable, and both offer excellent customer service.

Both also offer an interesting feature: Let's say you're paying for 25 GB of bandwidth, but then a big website links to yours, and your traffic suddenly spikes. These hosts automatically adjust to the amount of traffic your site is seeing so that the site doesn't crash. (Things could still go wrong, but the site should be able to adjust to the traffic.) They will bill you, however, for the extra bandwidth used.
  • LaughingSquid -- Hosting for $6-$16 per month. They specialize in hosting WordPress sites. (Their sites are hosted on Rackspace's cloud.) Customer service is available only via email.
  • MediaTemple -- Hosting starting at $20 per month. They offer support for many different content management systems. They host sites on their own network. Customer service is available via phone.
  • WP Engine -- Hosting specifically for WordPress sites, starting at $29 per month.
  • Page.ly -- Hosting specifically for WordPress sites. Starts at $19 per month.