Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why Have Reseller Hosting When You Don’t Resell Anything?

Many web hosting companies offer a variety of plans from basic shared hosting right on up to dedicated servers and even cloud computing services. One plan you may have noticed is something called “reseller hosting.” Just what is reseller hosting and what is it that you need to resell to use it?

View all hosting options now.It may interest you to know that there are a lot of website owners that have reseller hosting plans and never resell anything. Why? Because reseller accounts make it easier to manage our many websites. I’ll explain why that is in a moment.

First, let’s have a look at the hosting world and why the plans are set up the way they are. I’ll use HostGator plans as an example, since I’m a current customer and affiliate of theirs.

Entry level web hosting is designed to be easily affordable by anyone who wants to set up their own website or run a blog, such as WordPress, on their own domain. Small businesses are big users of these accounts because they don’t have the traffic or sophisticated web designs that demand high performance dedicated hosting servers. A small store, an independent computer tech, an insurance sales person and a restaurant can all make good use of basic web hosting.

What makes these plans attractive is that they are really inexpensive. HostGator’s “Hatchling” plan starts at $3.96 a month. It’s designed for a single domain, which is all most businesses ever need. You might think that a plan this cheap would be really limiting. In fact, you get unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth. You also get a shared SSL certificate for secure transactions.

Note the term shared. The way they can offer this at such a low price is that this is shared hosting. By that I mean that you are on a server with a lot of other clients. It’s true that the server has limitations and the hosting company is offering unlimited disk space and bandwidth. It works out anyway because most small businesses don’t need more than a tiny amount of storage, processing or bandwidth. They just don’t like the idea of buying a constrained plan.

In a way, this operates something like cloud hosting in that you are sharing resources with many other users but have the perception that you have all the resources to yourself. You never really bump into other clients because your files are segregated and the server handles resource allocation automatically. If someone does start hogging the server beyond normal expectations, they’ll be asked to move on up to a private server so they don’t bog everybody else down.

The way you control your web hosting service is through a browser-based control panel. The most popular one is called cPanel. Once you get oriented to it, it’s very easy to use. You can set up your email accounts, upload and download files, install preloaded applications such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, view website statistics and error logs, and pretty much anything else you need to do.

Now, here’s where reseller hosting comes in. Say you have more than one domain. Do you need to buy a separate hosting plan for each domain? No, you can move up to the “Baby” hosting plan that lets you host unlimited domains on one account. This works, but you only have one control panel to run everything. It sure would be nice to have a separate cPanel for each domain.

That’s what reseller hosting gives you. You get another manager called WHM or Web Host Manager. This is like a super cPanel. It lets you create separate hosting accounts for each domain. That takes a matter of minutes when you get on the procedure. From then on, you can use the cPanel that is dedicated to a particular domain.

It’s called a reseller account because it is intended for web designers or companies that want to offer web hosting services themselves. Some designers have found they can make a tidy income by designing “brochure” sites for small businesses in their town that have no idea how to do it themselves. You charge so much for the site design and then so much a month to host it and update the files as needed. In some cases, you may want to let the client modify their own files. That’s why you need a separate cPanel for each account. It keeps one client from wreaking havoc on another client’s files.

As someone who owns and operates a couple of dozen small commercial websites of my own, I’ve found that it works best to treat them as separate entities with their own hosting accounts. The reseller account lets me have a separate cPanel for each domain while keeping the cost within reason. You can have as many domains and accounts on one reseller account as you like. The limitations are disk space and bandwidth. HostGator’s “Aluminum” account gives you 50 GB storage and 500 GB bandwidth. This is plenty for dozens of small sites. If you need more, then just upgrade for more resources. If you need more than 200 GB storage and 1,400 GB bandwidth, it’s time to move on up to a virtual private server or dedicated server.

So, which type of hosting works best for your business? Is the basic hosting package all you really need for now or do you want the kind of control you have with a reseller account? Learn more about all the hosting packages available from HostGator and choose what works best in your case.

Click to get more information and view sample videos.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter