Buying a Domain and a Virtual Private Server

Jan 14, 2015


Before buying a domain you need to decide what domain name you want to use for your website. Decide on a few names beforehand as the name you want may not be available and so you will need to use an alternate name. Also decide what top level domain you want to use - like .com, .net, .io etc... After deciding on a few names, it's time to pick a domain name registrar. You can buy domains only through a registrar (Some hosting providers also sell domains).

There are a lot of domain name registrars in the market with very competitive pricing. Just shop around, and read a few reviews. Registrars who have poor service will usually have negative reviews. It's by searching on the Internet and reading reviews did I decide on using Hover as my domain registrar. Another option is to ask someone who you know who owns a domain name. And be wary of supercheap pricing. As it is, domains don't cost much and if you are only buying one or two of them, paying an extra $2-$5 an year doesn't really matter. The level of service tends to be proportional to the pricing.

Why buy a Virtual Private Server (VPS)

Before asking which VPS hosting service to use, is using a VPS worth it? Depending on your needs, it may not be. If you just want a simple site where you don't expect much traffic, you can go for shared hosting which is cheaper than buying a VPS.

But if you want complete control over your site and how it runs, or simply like playing around with a server, a VPS is your option. In my case, in addition to both those reasons, I also wanted to run a site using Java. There are very few shared hosting providers who host Java web applications. The majority of them concentrate solely on hosting PHP applications.

A caveat though - maintaining a VPS is serious work. You have to do everything yourself - install an operating system, install and configure a web server and a database, and the software for your site. And even if you have that technical know how, you may not really have the time to do all that. So consider that before buying a VPS. Shared hosting starts at $4-$5 a month (some even throw in the cost of domain registration in their price plans), whereas a VPS starts at $8-$10 a month. If you aren't going to fully utilize a VPS, there's no point in paying the extra money.

Which VPS

Choosing a VPS provider is a tad harder than chosing a domain registrar. A VPS costs more than a domain so you want to be sure that the money is well spent. Know that most personal websites/blogs don't need much hardware power. So don't be tempted to pay for more RAM or CPU. Disk space depends on whether you plan to use it for backing up your data. If you aren't going to, don't bother paying for all that extra disk space. A lean Linux install weighs in like 2-3 GB, with the web server, database and other softwares installed. And blogs with hundreds of posts and thousands to comments don't take up more than hundreds of MB of database space (unless your site is heavy on photos or video). So even a 20 GB hard disk space is plenty.

I settled on my VPS provider, linode, as I already use it for running a Wordpress site for some friends. So ask people you know, if they've used a VPS and what their experience was.

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