What is web hosting?
Web hosting is essentially the service that allows your website to exist on the internet. It includes everything that makes up the building blocks of your website, such as web resources, applications and documents, plus the content of your site like the text and images, which are stored on powerful computers called servers. These physical servers are located in specially designed facilities called data centers. When you buy hosting, you are effectively renting space on a server so that your website can be viewed on the internet.
How does it work?
When someone types in your domain name or clicks on a link that leads to your website, a request will be sent from their computer to the server. The server then responds by delivering the pages of your website to the visitor via their web browser (for example Chrome, Safari, etc).
Nowadays, web hosting has grown from being merely rented server space for your website, and has evolved into a comprehensive service offering email, website building tools, SEO tools, 24/7 support and more.
Choosing the best Canadian web hosting
One of the most fundamentally important factors in the success of your website is the hosting that you choose. Finding the right hosting can be a daunting task though, especially if you are not familiar with the labyrinth of options available and the jargon used. The following section should give you all the information you need to allow you to make an informed decision and choose the best Canadian web hosting for your website.
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What types of Canadian web hosting are available?
There are several types of web hosting available to meet the needs of different websites, offering varying levels of performance, scalability and expertise needed on your part.
The key to selecting the right web hosting for you is to compare the individual requirements of your website to the various types of hosting and packages available. The most common types of web hosting - and those offered by CanSpace Solutions - are shared hosting, VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting, and dedicated server hosting. Let’s take a more detailed look at each:
As the name suggests, with shared hosting, your website is located on a server with other websites. Exactly how many depends on the hosting provider, but it’s not uncommon to share a server with dozens of other sites, possibly even hundreds. Sharing in this way allows hosting providers to spread the costs of running the server between many parties, making it very affordable. Some providers oversell their servers, hosting more websites on a server than it is capable of handling. At CanSpace we monitor our servers very closely to make sure this is never the case!
The only downside to shared hosting is that because the server is shared, so are its resources such as CPU, RAM and hard drive space. As there are only a finite amount of resources, if other websites on the server are consuming a lot of its processing power, your website can slow down as a result. CanSpace uses specialized tools like CloudLinux to avoid scenarios like these - ensuring that your site is always running full speed, regardless of your neighbours. You should also consider how quickly you expect your website and its traffic to grow; shared hosting plans often have lower limits for resources such as disk space and bandwidth when compared to VPS and dedicated servers.
Shared hosting is generally ideal for startups, sites that don’t get enormous amounts of traffic, and those without massive budgets, as the costs are low and affordable. In addition to this, there are very few options in terms of server configuration, so you are free to concentrate on building and running your website. Setup is also taken care of for you.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting
VPS Hosting is the middle ground between shared hosting and a dedicated server. Although VPS hosting still utilizes a physical server, the way it is configured is very different. Resources such as RAM, CPU and other data are exclusive to each user on the server through the use of separate virtual machines. If one website on the server exceeds its quota, that website may slow down, but the others will be completely unaffected.
The main advantage of VPS hosting is that you have full root control over your own system, and it offers better performance than shared hosting. In addition, you have more flexibility in terms of customizing your environment, as any changes you make to the server do not affect your neighbors. VPS hosting also offers scalability, as resources can easily be increased when you reach the point that you need more.
The only real disadvantage to VPS hosting is that it costs more than basic hosting options, such as shared hosting. However, if your website reaches the stage where you need this type of hosting, there is a good chance that you will be able to balance the extra cost against the income generated by your site.
Bear in mind that with more flexibility in terms of server configuration comes an increased need for knowledge or experience to manage the server. All CanSpace packages are managed however, so you can focus on your site and let us manage your server.
This option is perfect for medium-sized businesses and sites that have outgrown shared hosting.
At the top end of the spectrum, you will find dedicated hosting. Exactly as it sounds, dedicated hosting means that you have an entire physical server all to yourself. The biggest benefit of this type of hosting is that your website does not have to compete for server resources with any other sites. It also comes with a much higher degree of flexibility and customization. You may even be allowed to choose your own operating system and hardware.
Dedicated hosting does have some downsides. Of course, it comes at a cost; having your own server is the most expensive option available. However, if you need this type of hosting, it is likely that your website or business is generating enough income to support it. Also some providers leave you to manage the server software and configuration. At CanSpace however, everything is managed by us.
Dedicated hosting is best suited to high traffic websites, and those who have a specific need to control aspects such as server hardware or privacy of information.
Windows Hosting versus Linux Hosting
Another choice you may be faced with is whether to use Windows hosting or Linux hosting. While it is entirely feasible to build and run your website without knowing which operating system your server is running on, you may like to make the decision yourself.
Both offer advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately the decision may not be relevant to your particular wesite, and instead to your hosting provider to manage. Let’s take a look at the difference between the two:
Linux is by far the most popular choice of operating system and is the common operating system used in shared hosting environments. It is renowned for its stability and security, and can be widely adapted. As it is open source and free to use, it is often the cheaper option, as hosting providers are able to pass on cost savings. The only real downside to Linux is its learning curve, though if you have the inclination to learn, or already have the experience, it is a great option. Please note that since CanSpace offers managed hosting plans, you will not have to deal with Linux at all.
Broadly speaking, Windows hosting is geared towards websites that use Windows as the server’s operating system and offer Windows-specific technologies such as ASP, ASP.NET, MS SQL, FrontPage and Access.
The main advantage of Windows is that it is easier to set up and configure than Linux. It is also the obvious choice if you are going to develop your web applications with the .NET framework. The only negative is that while Windows does not specifically have any issues in terms of security or stability, it is not considered to be at quite the same level as Linux. All servers at CanSpace are runnig Linux, and we do not offer Windows hosting at the moment.
What are the advantages of choosing web hosting in Canada?
The physical location of your web host or data center can have an effect on the performance and perception of your website. This means that choosing web hosting in Canada can be very beneficial, especially if you have a Canadian business website and want to attract Canadian visitors to your site. Let’s take a look at why:
Data center location
It is ideal to host your website in a data center that is geographically as close to your target visitors as possible. The reason for this is that location has an impact on latency and transfer speeds. Therefore, the closer your website is to your visitors, the faster it will load. As well as improved user experience, page speed is thought to have an impact on a website’s SEO, affecting where your site is displayed in search engine results.
Local Google ranking
If your website is aimed at attracting Canadian visitors or customers, then your local Google ranking will be significant. It is believed that Google prioritizes results from Canadian websites when search queries are entered in Google.ca. Google uses your website’s domain name and IP address to determine where your website is located. By choosing Canadian web hosting, you are more likely to receive a higher ranking by Google in its search results, meaning a huge impact on your traffic, and ultimately your income.
If you have a choice between hosting your website in Canada or hosting it in the United States, you should be aware of the differing privacy laws that affect each country.
The United States have passed numerous bills and acts that allow free access to personal information. In particular, if the U.S. government suspects an individual or business to be a threat to America, The Patriot Act and DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) allow them to legally access and monitor the data of those individuals or businesses, if it is hosted or physically located in the United States. Canada, by contrast, has strict laws when it comes to privacy and freedom of access to personal data and information and at CanSpace we are not subject to US laws at all.
What should you consider when choosing domain hosting services?
There is no shortage of providers offering domain hosting services and it can be difficult to choose between the packages available, yet selecting the right provider and package can be pivotal to the success of your website. With a little research and considering the following points, you can avoid making the wrong decision.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” package when it comes to web hosting. Before you start comparing hosts and packages, think through the requirements of your website. Consider things like:
How many websites you will want to host: Some providers support more than one domain on the same hosting account. At CanSpace all of our plans support multiple domains under a single account.
How much traffic you are likely to have: This will help you to determine the level of resources you need, such as bandwidth and storage space.
Your future growth plans: Does your provider and package allow you to scale up if necessary? Does your provider allow you to search domains names and add them to your hosting plan? At CanSpace we offer multiple growth options and always help you through the process.
Speed and reliability
The speed at which your website loads affects both user satisfaction and SEO. Research shows that users are more likely to abandon a slow loading website, costing you potential customers and readers. In addition, page loading speed is a factor in where your website ranks on Google. While there are tweaks you can make to your website to make it faster, if the server it runs on is slow, you will always be fighting a losing battle.
Similarly, you want your website to be online as much as possible. At CanSpace we aim for 100% uptime, as we know that your website is the backbone of your brand.
Customer support is one of the foundations of a good web host. Whether you just need a bit of help setting up your website or in-depth support if something goes wrong once it is live, you want to know that assistance is on-hand.
Check what support channels are available, such as telephone, email, live chat, forums and when they can be reached. Some web hosts offer support 24/7, 365 days a year, whereas others may only be available during business hours, which isn’t ideal if your website is down and you’re losing visitors.
Security is an important consideration for any website, but even more so if your site will be handling sensitive information such as customer data and credit card details. Check whether your host uses firewalls to monitor for and prevent attacks before they can occur, and whether they are proactive in monitoring their servers for unusual activity. Some web hosts offer safeguards such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to encrypt and protect information as it is transferred across the web. All accounts with CanSpace come with SSL.
Many web hosts offer extra features such as email hosting, SSL certificates and one-click installation for popular applications like WordPress. Some also offer daily backups of your account, so that it can be recovered if you make a mistake or something goes wrong. At CanSpace we offer all of this, and much more!
Reliability and reputation are important factors when comparing web hosts. Search for reviews of potential hosts to get a feel for the experiences that other users have had. If you find lots of the same issues or persistent complaints cropping up, this may be a red flag. You may also be able to see how the company deals with complaints or whether they respond at all.
It is wise to compare prices, but with web hosting, the old adage “you get what you pay for” holds true. The cheapest option is not necessarily the best if you are left struggling with slow servers, unacceptable downtime and bad customer service.
Beware of introductory prices. While they may appear cheap to begin with, you may pay more in the long run when the introductory period expires and prices revert to normal. Also check what is included and what will be charged as an add-on. Email hosting, for example, is included as standard in many packages, but some providers may charge extra for it. At CanSpace our prices are always transparent, and do not increase during your renewal!
Affordable, reliable and easy hosting with CanSpace
Now that you have all the information you need to choose the right web hosting for the individual needs of your website, take a look at our affordable, secure and easy hosting packages. As the leading Canadian web hosting provider, you can rest assured that your website will be in safe hands with CanSpace. We are the experts in Canadian web hosting, and all of our services are backed by our industry leading support.
Find out why CanSpace has been trusted by Canada’s largest corporations for over 15 years.