Hosted vs. Self-Hosted website
One of the very first decisions you need to make when starting a website is if you want a hosted or a self-hosted one.
If you are new to blogging you might wonder what the difference is? This is the question what went through my mind when I started to research how I can start a website. Even after I understood what the difference is (or at least I thought so) I was not sure with which one to choose, so I try to summarize how I understood these terms.
All the data you use on your website like pictures and text has to be stored on a server. At a hosted solution this server is hosted by somebody else and you don`t have direct access. You can`t go onto the server and upload data, change source code etc. WordPress.com is a good example.
The main advantage of a hosted solution is how user-friendly it is – you don’t need any programming skills and there are very detailed user guides available if required
It can even be setup for free, although you usually have to sacrifice on the domain name, but you can overcome that by buying a custom domain for under $5
As it contains the website builder, you have full support for your site and you do not need to worry about any downtime
If you go with the hosted option, you will have to sacrifice on functionalities – there are still some very useful plug-ins you can use, but they do not give you the same flexibility as a self-hosted one
A self-hosted solution means that you have a web provider who`s server you use. You can access the server and have unlimited customization options, you can use any web design tool or domain name.
It can offer almost unlimited customization possibilities – provided that you have the technical skills for it
Once you acquire some basic programming knowledge, you can build a website which is completely tailored to your needs
You really have dive into the technical stuff if you want to take advantage of all the options a self-hosted solution can provide – although setting up your site is simple and you can start using the more complex functionalities later on if you want to
The possibilities come for free. Although the cost is not incredibly high; you can buy a domain for a few dollars, but for a standard hosting plan you should be willing to pay about $70 (annually)
There is no support for your site with a self-hosted account, they only cover the database side – for any trouble with your website builder you will need to use Google
Which one should you choose?
It completely depends on your needs and what kind of website you want to build.
If you are not completely sure if you want to dive seriously into website building or blogging, or in case you have no technical affinity at all, than I recommend to start with a hosted solution. You can migrate to a self-hosted account easily later on, if you are not satisfied with the freedom the hosted one gives.
In case you think that over time your site will outgrow a hosted solution anyway or it would be limited by the functionalities it can provide for your needs, than you should go with the self-hosted solution. If you do it right, you will not regret it.