Tech in Plain English: Hosting – Part 1


Nearly every time I speak to someone who wants a website designed by Hatua the conversation goes like this

Client:             I would like a website for my organisation

Me:                  Great.  Do you need hosting space too?

Client:             What is that?

I then spend the next few minutes explaining hosting and hope that by the end of it I haven’t confused the person.

Seeing as the topic of hosting crops up very early in the website design discussion, we decided to make it the subject of Hatua’s first Tech in Plain English series.

So, what is hosting?

The best way to explain hosting is to use an analogy.

Imagine for a minute that the website you want designed is represented by furniture.  It can be any type of furniture, but for now I am going to go with household furniture.  You have a bed, a wardrobe, a dining table, some sofas and maybe even an armchair.  All this furniture is spread out in an open field.  Just lying there.  You will need somewhere to put this furniture because an open field is no place for it.   As it is household furniture, it is fair to assume that you will need a house.   This essentially is what hosting is.  It is a house for your website.

Let us assume you decide to rent a house.  You will need to find a landlord, pay some money and sign a contract before you can claim occupancy and move your furniture in.   The process is the same for hosting.  You will need to find a hosting provider, who will provide you with space on their computers (called servers) so that you can store (host) your website and eventually make it available online.  This hosting service is often for a fixed period of time, usually a year, and like the rental market the prices can vary significantly between hosting packages.

Like houses, hosting comes in many forms and the process involved in choosing a house is not too different to that of choosing suitable hosting.  For instance, if you have a large family and lots of furniture, you will probably be looking for a house with 3 or 4 bedrooms.  Likewise if you are planning on having a website with a lot of content you will need large amount of hosting.  Whereas the number of rooms or the size of each room will determine house size, the size of hosting is measured in megabytes, often abbreviated as MB.  The greater the number the more hosting space you have available.

Text based websites require very little hosting space.  Pictures, if not resized can take up quite a lot of hosting space.  Most small organisations with a site containing four or five text, a picture heavy front page and a blog can probably get by on the Hatua’s Silver hosting package (our smallest hosting package which provides you with 150MB of space).    The NLSE website that we designed is hosted on our silver package, and should give you an idea of what 150MB looks like.

If in doubt about how much hosting space you need, I would recommend starting with the smallest package available and if more space is needed upgrade the hosting package as necessary.  That way you don’t pay more than you have to. Alternatively, if you already have a web site that is hosted by someone else and you are thinking of moving it to a new hosting provider, find out how much space your current site uses and find a similar package.  Do be aware that your current site may not be using all of the available hosting space.  If you don’t know how to find out the amount of space your site is taking up, ask your hosting provider to tell you.   They should give you a figure in megabytes.

Now, anyone who has rented or owned a property will know that that size of the property is not the only thing that matters.  Cost of utilities, council tax and location are just a few factors that you may have to take into account.  This is also true of hosting.  Determining the size is just one aspect.   Next Tuesday we will focus on bandwidth but hopefully this week we have left you with a slightly better understanding of hosting.

If you have any questions about this topic or Hatua’s hosting packages or if you wish to suggest a topic for future Tech in Plain English posts please leave a comment below.

This post is part of Hatua’s Tech in Plain English (TiPE) series. TiPe’s  aim is to translate geek speak into simple english so that our service users can make informed decisions about their ICT needs.

One comment on “Tech in Plain English: Hosting – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Hatua CIC, Tech in Plain English

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