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Find a Home for Your Website before Working with WordPress

After you register your domain, you need to find a place for it to live — a web host — before you begin working with WordPress. Web-hosting providers usually offer different features with a basic hosting account, so it’s good to do some research before-hand.

A web host is a business, group, or individual that provides website owners with web-server space and bandwidth for file transfers. Usually, web-hosting services charge a monthly or annual fee — unless you’re fortunate enough to know someone who’s willing to give you server space and bandwidth for free. The cost varies from host to host, but you can obtain quality web-hosting services from $3 to $10 per month to start.

Think of your web host as a garage that you pay to park your car in. The garage gives you the place to store your car (hard-drive space). The host gives you a driveway so that you can get to and from your car (bandwidth). The garage owner won’t, however, fix your rockin’ stereo system (WordPress) that you’ve installed — unless you’re willing to pay extra for that service.

Hosting services generally provide (at least) these services with your account:

  • Hard drive space: This is nothing more complicated than the hard drive on your own computer. Each hard drive has the capacity, or space, for a certain amount of files. An 80GB (gigabyte) hard drive can hold 80GB of data — and no more. Your hosting account provides you with a limited amount of hard drive space, and the same concept applies.

    If your web host provides you with 10GB of hard drive space, that’s the limit on the file size that you’re allowed to have. If you want more hard drive space, you need to upgrade your space limitations. Most web hosts have a mechanism in place for you to upgrade your allotment.

    For a new self-hosted WordPress website, you don’t need much hard drive space at all. A good starting point is 3–5GB of storage space. If you find that you need additional space in the future, you can contact your hosting provider for a space upgrade.

    Websites that run large files — such as video, audio, or photo files — generally benefit from more hard drive space compared with sites that don’t involve large files. Keep this point in mind when you sign up for your hosting account. Planning now will save you a few headaches down the road.

  • Bandwidth (transfer): Bandwidth is the amount of data that’s carried from point A to point B within a specific period (usually only a second or two). Every web-hosting provider offers a variety of bandwidth limits on the accounts it offers.

    Your bandwidth is determined by how much bandwidth your web host allows for your account — the larger the number, the more info gets through.

    Web hosts are pretty generous with the amount of bandwidth they provide in their packages. Like hard drive space, bandwidth is measured in gigabytes. A bandwidth provision of 10–50GB is generally a respectable amount to run a website with a blog.

  • Domain e-mail with web mail access: The host allows you to have an e-mail address that has your own, unique domain name.

  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP) access: FTP gives you the ability to transfer files from your computer to your web-hosting account, and vice versa.

  • Comprehensive website statistics: View detailed information on the traffic that your website receives on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis.

  • MySQL database(s): This is the database system that WordPress uses to store your data.

  • PHP: PHP is the programming language that WordPress is built on.

Because you intend to run WordPress on your web server, you need to look for a host that provides the current recommended, minimum requirements needed to run the WordPress software on your hosting account, which are

  • PHP version 5.2.4 (or greater)

  • MySQL version 5.0 (or greater)

The easiest way to find out whether a host meets the minimum requirements is to check the FAQ section of the host’s website, if it has one. If not, find the contact information for the hosting company and fire off an e-mail requesting information on what exactly it supports.

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