Website Hosting. What is the best thing to do? It’s a complex answer, and it depends what you want to do going forward. In simplicity, the two main options for the beginner in the world wide web would be:
You are just looking to have one website or client, so you put them on Afrihost shared hosting. Steps:
You buy a domain for R97 a year (a .co.za domain; I use Namecheap for .com’s and all the rest)
Then pay hosting for R39 a month which comes with basic mail, cPanel access, a whole host of other tools, and this is all certainly enough for a beginner.
The server is super slow, but you get good quality support and it’s all easy to navigate and understand. Unlike Hetzner, the interface is easy to grasp, and the cPanel is a breeze.
If you want a really great website or are growing and have 2-3 clients or more, then you will want to learn how to host these sites well. There is a tipping point, and I would say three to four sites is it. You are able to buy a server, and place them all on that one server. Though I’d suggest only doing this if they are all running the same platform. (Eg. WordPress, not that and Magento, Drupal, Joomla etc etc).
I almost always put myself and my clients on a Digital Ocean server – that’s a referral link which will save you $50, by the way, meaning you can get free hosting for your first 10 or so months – which piggybacks on AWS, and is ideal for most applications. Choose the Linux option, and find out how to do a one-click WordPress install and you’re 95% of the way there. For the last 5% then a) see my next point, and b) take some time to read tutorials on Digital Ocean; you can generally just slowly go through a walkthrough and learn all you need to know.
I occasionally use another service called Server Pilot which, as the name suggests, helps pilot your server plus a whole bunch of other amazing stuff. SSL’s, subdomains, and a bunch of other super-quick and helpful things which means life is a breeze for you. (Side note: That link will also give you five months or so off for free.) Neither of the above options include mail but mail is ideally done by a client themselves when they set themselves up with the G Suite package. I’d highly recommend Gmail Suite as their price their offering is quite hard to beat, and an IMAP Cloud Server means your mail is super safe, up there in the clouds above San Francisco, too.
You will then have amazing Mail (plus all the extras with Google’s Suite), a lightning-fast server that is not shared with a 100 to 1,000 other people (some of which will have sites that get hacked, leaving you vulnerable) and then the true learning begins. SSH, DNS, Backups, Security etc – it’s all useful to know and this takes time but eventually, some way down the line you will be grateful you invested the time.
Some advice: Start slowly, and on a site you can “break” – perhaps a pet project like this one of mine around tow trucks – and cut your teeth on something minor that has little traffic or is just a dev or staging website. That said, there is nothing like the pressure of it being real work to hasten the neurons in your brain to make learning connections.
You basically want to only host small, easy to work with clients so that you can deliver much better service to them – on an Afrihost server a site will take 10 seconds to respond; on a Digital Ocean server it will take 1 second – and then I only bill them for my time knowing that I am actually saving them money by migrating them to a far better, and generally cheaper service.
For bigger websites and clients they generally have an in-house developer who knows what to do; as a beginner or SEO type, like me, you can just list the requirements for the site’s performance and such.
Mainly: With all clients never ever be in charge of mail. You need a PhD to work out how to fix it if things go pear.