When I first started setting up websites many years ago it was all new to me but I was not daunted by having to make new discoveries like finding out that websites are hosted on hosting servers.
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The control panel
I called up a hosting company and was told that I would be setup with a control panel. Control panel! I was very intrigued but I was then sent an email with login details.
Logging into my control panel
I logged in and then wondered 'What now?' since I didn't have a clue. So, I called my hosting company and asked "What next?". I was told that I have to upload my HTML files into the public_html root directory on the server.
First of all, what is HTML files and secondly where is the public_html folder? I suddenly felt as though I was on another planet and had to learn the language. I discovered that HTML is a programming language used to set up web pages.
I was very intrigued, not at all daunted or put off by finding myself in this new world called the world wide web. The hosting company told me that the best way to access my new public-html director was via an FTP client. FTP client! FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.
I downloaded a free client on the web and found that I had to input the my domain name and the username and password to my control panel. It worked and I was able to see that there was a root directory called public_html where my new website was meant to be uploaded.
I currently use Filezilla as my FTP Client and what's more, it's FREE!
Function of the control panel
Setting up your email addresses
A hosting control panel allow you to do many things like set up your email addresses like email@example.com. Every email address is assigned a username and password which is logged on your control panel.
There will also be instructions on how to setup Pop addresses in outlook or other email accounts like Yahoo. Most web portals provide a way of adding pop addresses so that along with receiving mail from your web portal you can receive emails from your website hosting server.
Most web portals also have spam guards which can offer your computer more protection against spam and viruses. Your hosting company can also offer spam protection.
Things you can do on your control panel
There are a host of things you can do from your hosting panel
- Set up your email accounts
- View your emails
- Upload your files
- Backup your website
- Check your bandwidth
- Setup your databases
- Add subdomains or add-on domains
- Setup redirects
- Setup free functionality like hit counters and forums (if the hosting company provides free software)
- Install apps (if your hosting company supplies free apps)
Things that you should look for in a hosting company
- 24 hours technical support by phone and email
- Quick response time via phone and email
- Free app downloads like WordPress and Drupal
24 hours technical support
Some hosting companies like WebFusion do not offer technical support via the phone if you use a shared server (server that other websites are hosted on); they only provide support for a single server (a server that is purchased by one user).
This can pose a problem if you want to speak to someone on the phone straight away.
You don't want to be waiting on the phone for more than 5 minutes before your call is answered. Some companies have a quick response time to answer sales calls but a slow response time for answering technical support calls.
Try calling the technical support number to see how long it takes for their phone to be answered. I use ukhost4u due to their quick telephone response time and extensive free app downloads like Open cart, Joomla, WordPress, Drupal etc.
Free app downloads
Using a hosting company that has a list of free apps can save you a lot of time and effort having to upload the app yourself when from a control panel all you need to do is choose what directory you want the app install and choose a username and password. Once you click install, the app will be installed directly onto your website.
Paying for the service
Hosting companies offer clients a monthly payment option or paying yearly. A yearly option is normally cheaper and convenient.
The cheapest hosting companies are not necessarily the best. Take your time finding the right company for the long-term to avoid having to move your whole website onto a new server that may involve having to copy the database from your old website and recreating them on the new server.
We can easily do this for you since we have qualified developers who specialise in website migrations that includes moving a website from one content management system (CMS) to another like SharePoint.