You’re still working out the details for your website and you’re facing two related decisions: what application will you use to build your website, and what type of web hosting will you choose?
While it’s possible to build your website without using one of the popular applications available, using an application such as a content management system (CMS) is an extremely popular choice for good reason. They make website creation and maintenance easier and can help you implement more of the elements and features you want on your website.
What Is Application Web Hosting?
To understand application web hosting, you should start by understanding what web hosting is.
Every website you encounter online is made up of a number of different files and elements arranged in just such a way to create your website experience. While we tend to think of the things we encounter online as existing somewhere outside of physical space (we even call it “cyberspace”), all of the different parts that go into making up each website do take up space.
And it all has to be stored in a physical web server that’s powerful enough to hold the many files that make up the website, and to deliver them all up to every visitor that comes to the site. That requires a lot of space and bandwidth on a platform, which makes web hosting something that few website owners can handle on their own.
Instead, the vast majority of websites are hosted by companies that provide web hosting on a subscription model. These companies maintain the buildings required to house thousands of physical web servers. They do regular maintenance on the servers, provide the climate controlled environment required to keep them in good working condition, and put protections into place to keep them from being hurt by bad weather or accessed by malicious hackers.
In exchange for paying a set amount of money each month or year, you can rent out a space on one of these servers (or a whole server with dedicated server hosting, if you need it). It’s a necessary service all websites need in order to be accessible online.
Application Hosting Packages
The short version: application hosting is the term used to describe web hosting plans that specialize in providing hosting services for websites built on a particular application.
Many websites are now built and maintained using popular applications. This includes popular CMSs such as WordPress or applications specifically designed for building forums like phpBB.
While many types of web hosting services will work fine for websites built with a particular application, application web hosting plans provide specific features and benefits related to the application you built your website with. They can make it easier to install the application software when you’re getting started, and provide special compatibility that ensures your web hosting account and application software play nice together.
How Does Application Hosting Compare to Other Web Hosting?
The main difference is that you never have to worry about compatibility issues between your application and your web hosting service. Application web hosting plans often include easy one-click installation of your application, so you can get the two services working together on a single platform without any real effort or difficulty.
In addition, an application hosting plan may include features that allow you to more easily access or use the application’s features within your web hosting account, to make the experience of working on your website more seamless and efficient.
In short, while other web hosting services may work just fine for your website, finding an application web hosting plan that supports the application you use can make your life a little easier.
What to Look for In an Application Web Hosting Plan
If you’ve decided to seek out an application web hosting plan for your new website, there are a few main features you should look out for:
Compatibility with your preferred application
This is the whole point of getting an application-specific web hosting plan to begin with. Make sure the application hosting option you consider works specifically with the CMS, forum, or wiki application you’ll be using for your website. Application hosting isn’t one-size-fits-all, so find the option that will fit your particular needs.
A web hosting plan that offers one-click set up for the application you use will vastly simplify the set-up process. But also consider how intuitive the web hosting company’s account management and cPanel tools are. And look into what kind of resources they offer to help you get started using the web hosting service.
Your web hosting account will be where you complete important tasks like domain name management, setting up redirects, and managing your web hosting billing. You want to make sure it’s all easy to learn and use.
One of the main jobs a web hosting company has is keeping your website up and available on the web. Realistically, web hosting servers do occasionally have to go offline for maintenance. And sometimes they go offline for other reasons, such as issues caused by improper maintenance, repair needs, hacker attacks, weather-related disruptions (the server warehouse floods, for example), or hardware glitches.
One of the main differentiating factors between different web hosting providers is how much of the time their service is affected by these kinds of issues. If you choose an unreliable application hosting provider, your website could end up offline frequently while they deal with various issues. Ideally, you want to find an application hosting provider that promises at least 99% uptime and backs that up with a guarantee. Some of the most reputable web host providers go even further, such as HostGator’s 99.9% uptime guarantee.
If you want people to be able to access your website every time they visit, make uptime a priority in your decision.
24/7 customer service
Working with websites, no matter the application you use, will present challenges and issues on occasion. When that happens, you want to be able to identify the issue and fix it fast. If your application hosting company doesn’t offer customer service at all hours, you could be stuck waiting for hours to fix a serious issue with your website, delivering your visitors a disappointing experience all the while.
Look for an application web hosting company that promises 24/7 customer support. And check that they provide your preferred option for communication when issues arise, whether that’s live chat, email, or phone.
Website hacks and data breaches are nearly everyday news lately. And the most popular website application are often targets of hacks because of their popularity. Website owners should always be on the offensive when it comes to security. While there are a number of steps you can take to keep your website secure, one of the first and most important is choosing a respected web hosting provider.
A web hosting company that invests in the infrastructure to keep their web servers protected and sets up firewalls to keep hackers out is the first line of defense you have. Many application hosting packages will also offer additional features or add-ons such as an SSL certificate or security software that makes your website’s protection even stronger.
Security should be a priority for every website owner today. If your website will be collecting any personal visitor information, such as names and emails, it’s even more important. And if you’ll be running an eCommerce store that collects customer financial information, it’s indispensable. Do your due diligence when choosing your application hosting plan to make sure security is well covered.
The 6 Main Types of Application Hosting
As we mentioned previously, you don’t want a general application hosting plan. You want hosting that’s specific to the type of application you’ll be using. These are the six most common types of application web hosting to consider.
1. WordPress Hosting
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, with over half of the market share. That makes WordPress hosting the most common type of application hosting website owners are likely to consider.
Websites powered by WordPress are easy to build, update, and maintain, even for people that don’t know to code. You can make changes to the website through the WordPress interface rather than having to update the page code directly. And with a library of over 50,000 WordPress plugins and thousands of themes, you can easily add a lot of features and functionality to a WordPress site.
There are many reasons to choose WordPress hosting for your website and it is a smart choice that makes maintaining your website that much easier.
2. Joomla Hosting
Joomla is another popular CMS option that falls behind WordPress in the number of users, but still dominates a certain segment of the market. Joomla is a bit harder to use than WordPress, but it’s a little more powerful and customizable, which makes it a popular choice for website owners and designers who want a step up in functionality.
Joomla also has a comprehensive library of themes, extensions, and educational resources to learn how best to use the website. For anyone that chooses Joomla as the best option to build a website with, Joomla hosting is an obvious choice.
3. Drupal Hosting
Drupal is the third most popular CMS is in the world. While it lags behind WordPress and Joomla in number of users, it has a reputation for being more sophisticated and powerful than the other two. The tradeoff is that it’s harder for any beginners or amateurs to use, meaning it’s mostly used for websites that have professional developers behind them.
If that describes your website and you choose to go with Drupal, you can keep the web hosting part of running your website simpler by choosing a Drupal hosting plan.
4. Magento Hosting
Anyone building an eCommerce website will need an eCommerce app that enables shopping cart and checkout functionality on the website. The most popular option for that is Magento, an open source shopping cart option that’s currently used by over 240,000 websites.
Magento’s eCommerce features are both customizable and easy for even beginners to set up and work with. Magento is the obvious choice for anyone building an eCommerce website, and by choosing compatible Magento hosting you can ensure that your web hosting service works well with your eCommerce software.
5. Wiki Hosting
While slightly less popular than some of the other most common types of websites, Wikis are an important part of the web. They deliver valuable information on a variety of topics in a way that’s easy to browse, search, and contribute to. The most popular Wiki apps, such as MediaWiki, TikiWiki, PmWiki, and WikkaWiki all help users create functioning Wiki websites.
If you’re specifically building a Wiki, then you’ll want to use one of the Wiki apps to get your website up and running. And for that, investing in Wiki hosting is a solid choice.
6. phpBB Hosting
User forums are another important part of the web, enabling users from all over the world with common interests to find and communicate with each other. For websites that are either forum-based or plan to include a forum, phpBB is the primary application available for building online communities.
phpBB is an open-source bulletin board software that makes it easy to build a space for users to communicate with each other online. If you choose to build an online community with phpBB, consider phpBB hosting to provide easy accessibility to your users.
Choose the Right Application Hosting Provider
You have a number of choices when it comes to finding the right web hosting plan for your website. If you’re using one of the applications described here, you’ll benefit from finding a provider that specializes in the application you use.
HostGator is one of the most respected application hosting providers in the industry. We offer hosting plans for all the most popular applications, and have a variety of plan options at different price points that are compatible with each. We provide a 99.9% uptime money-back guarantee, and 24/7 customer support. We can offer both compatibility and reliability for your website. Sign up today.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.