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Feeling overwhelmed by website servers, which hosting company to go with and if that isn’t enough someone is asking you about your DNS! We get it, allow us to elaborate on some of these areas in simple ‘normal people’ terms.

Where to start?

At the beginning of course. It all starts with a name or what those in the ‘biz’ call a URL or domain name. This is your website address, generally something like yourcompanyname.com. It’s how people find you online, aids in marketing exposure and gives you an unique identity.

There are a heap of variations, such as .com, .com.au, .net.au and even things like .agency and .science. These are called domain name ‘extensions’. There are some best practice rules to follow when selecting your domain name and extension, however our overarching piece of advice is to make it short, sweet and memorable.

Domain names are purchased through a Domain Registrar. These are companies with the appropriate licensing/accreditation to sell domain names. Once you have purchased a domain name, it then needs to be hosted on something called a Domain Name System or DNS. The job of the DNS server is quite simple to explain. When you type a website address into your browser, your DNS throws it’s hands up and says ‘Yep over here!’ it then takes your request and says, ‘that domain name is one of mine and this is where you can find the website’. The website is stored on a web server…

Onto the web server

This is essentially a computer that stores a copy of your website, ready to load it for your website visitors. There are many configurations of website servers, but they all perform the primary task and storing and loading your website on demand. Not all are created equal and there a some best practice rules to follow depending on the requirements placed on your website.

Web servers are provided by hosting companies and there are literally thousands to choose from, it can be overwhelming, so here are some top tips:

  1. The web server is only as good as the team running it! Things will go wrong with your server at one point or another or you may need some help or advice. The support team will make or break your experience with your web server. We recommend to look for recommendations, reviews and to also test out the support or at least the customer service by contacting support prior to committing to a purchase.
  2. Location, location, location. Always try to pick a server that is located closest to the majority of your website visitors (or potential customers). The math on this equation is simple, the further away your website server is from your target audience, the longer the site will take to load for them.
  3. Automation is key. We are all busy running our businesses, so the less hands on you have to be the better. Look for features such as automated backups, billing, security checks and renewals. This will give you peace of mind that your site will stay online.
  4. Security should be a major concern. Ask questions, do your research and find out which companies are truly offering some features in this space. Examples include, brute force protection, SSL certifications, malware scanning and regular update cycles.
  5. Future proof your site by assessing the scalability. It’s not a huge drama to move a website to a new host, but if it can be avoided then why not? Check that the web hosting company can easily scale up or down in line with the growing or contracting requirements of your business.

Website server, hosting and DNS explained

We have only scraped the surface of this topic. It can take years to truly become a ‘Jedi’ master in this space. In the meantime, feel free to fire any questions our way, we are always happy to help!