So, you’ve taken the decision to create a blog, and you want to use a fantastic theme made but the eFrog team. That means you’re in the market to self-host your WordPress installation. Wonderful! You’ll need somewhere, a hosting service, to host your website, and an address to point to it, something like http://myfantasticnewsite.co.za, which is called a “domain”.
Time to take care though, and be a little vigilant.
George wants this to be a happy time. There are just too many folks out there who have been taken for a hosting ride. You know the story, there’s a friend of a friend, or a designer or developer who’s offering free or very cheap subdomain hosting on his or her own account. We’re certain that there are many reliable, good guys out there, but the sad stories outweigh them by far. So, take care, please. Here’s a few things to ask anyone that you might want consider as a host:
- Will you have full control of the account yourself, i.e. contact and billing changes, etc?
- Can you cancel the hosting yourself?
- Do you have full FTP access to your files? (Needed to upload the WordPress and theme files.)
- Do you have full access to the control panel and your databases?
- Do you have access to your phpMyAdmin? (A management console for your WP database.)
- Can you get support directly from the hosting service?
These are ALL things you should have control of. If you get any “No” answers, George thinks it’s time to move along, and keep looking. There are many safe, reputable, reliable hosting services, both here in South Africa, and of course, overseas. Host 4 Africa, Afrihost and Hetzner are all great local services, and there are many more.
You’ll want a hosting package on a Linux server. This is not an indictment of Microsoft, who makes fine server software, but simply recognition of the fact that the WordPress platform is based on technologies that fit and run better on Linux. And don’t worry, you won’t have to be a Linux-fundi at all.
There are lots of factors to consider when selecting a package, but normally, the two most important ones are:
- How much disk space do you get?
- How much bandwidth are you allowed?
Here’s where a lot of folk get confused, cos they’re both measured in MegaBytes and GigaBytes… So lets clear that up a little.
There’s Disk space. Think of this as renting floor space in an office. Normally spoken about in MegaBytes (MB) or GigaBytes (GB). The WordPress files and the theme files for your site won’t take up much space at all (WordPress with one extra theme doesn’t even get over 40MB), but as you start adding content, posts, comments etc, the database size will grow, and if you add a lot of big pictures, the media library size can become significant.
Then there’s Bandwidth. Think of this as people coming to visit you, in your newly rented office space. They use parking, the lift, the receptionist has to greet and direct them, they have coffee etc. They are traffic, and in web terms, this is also measured in MegaBytes (MB) or GigaBytes (GB, much like your Internet cap with your ISP. 1GB is cheap. Uncapped bandwidth? Not so much. Your hosting service incurs costs for providing you with both disk space AND bandwidth, and of course, then charges you accordingly. So even if you have a tiny site, with one picture on, but a billion people come to see it every day, well, you can see how that works…You’ll need to work through the packages offered and select one that matches your needs, bearing in mind, of course, that with your brilliant content, and that beautiful new eFrog theme, your site and your traffic could grow like topsy!
Lastly, you’ll need a website address, a domain, e.g. http://myfantasticnewsite.co.za. For co.za domains, you can check whether your cool domain name is available, here. A good hosting service will register and administer the domain for you, for a nominal fee, as part of the new-hosting-account process. Be certain though, that the domain is registered in YOUR name, so that if you decide to move to another hosting service, there’s no ugliness about who owns the domain. The annual registration fee for a co.za domain is R50. Your host may charge a small admin fee over and above that.