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Hosting cheatsheet for new website owners

Web Hosting Cheat Sheet for New Website Owners

When it comes to having a website, there are a few tips and tricks that you need to know about. Managing your website isn’t simply sharing the URL and hoping someone clicks on adverts.

Plenty of work goes into running a website, such as hosting. Even more so if it’s well managed. Most users won’t ever have to worry about CPU loads or which version of PHP they are running, but there are still a few important things to keep in mind.

Below is a range of basic hosting tips and tricks that you should take note of.

Changing Account Usernames and Passwords

When signing up for a new hosting package, your host should provide you with the account, FTP, and email details.

All of these need to be kept somewhere safe and secure, which shouldn’t need to be said. If those details got into the wrong hands, it could spell trouble for the website.

For more insights on creating a secure password, you can refer to our blog post on why “password” isn’t a secure password.

If you don’t like the details you’re given and prefer to change the email address or password, your hosting package comes with all of the tools needed to accommodate that.

For example, if you’d like to change email-related details, look for the “Email” heading in cPanel. Then click on “Email Accounts” in order to change all of your details, including the maximum size for your mailbox.

When changing your passwords, be sure to choose a strong password that can’t be easily guessed or hacked.

Other details can be changed through your website’s hosting account. For any queries on this, make sure to contact the host’s support department.

You Can Easily Install Website Software

Running a successful website often means integrating a variety of software applications, such as those for blogging, e-commerce, or even a forum.

Yet if you’re picturing days spent grappling with FTP file uploads and struggling with database configurations, rest assured – this isn’t how it has to be.

Most modern hosting providers prioritise ease of use. They often feature tools like Fantastico or Softaculous.

These programs are software powerhouses designed to install common website applications for you. This does wonders in reducing the technical hurdle associated with setting up essential software components.

To take advantage of this, all you need to do is log into your cPanel account and seek out the “Software” heading. Within this section, you’ll find the “Softaculous Apps Installer“. This handy tool provides an array of software applications that your site can benefit from.

Start by selecting the software you’d like to install, and then simply follow the guided steps. Softaculous will take care of the technical details, such as creating the necessary folders and establishing your software’s database.

Your main role in the installation process is to provide some basic details as prompted by the installer. In just minutes, you can have a new functionality-rich website ready to go.

Harness the benefits of these built-in software installers, and give your website the functionality it needs, all without touching a line of code.

Creating Sub-Domains

There may be occasions where your online platform isn’t merely offering a singular service. Perhaps your digital enterprise involves an e-commerce store that sells a wide variety of products like food, shoes, electronics, and more.

In these cases, it might be useful to consider creating sub-domains – fledgling websites under the wings of your main domain.

Sub-domains give you the flexibility of possessing individualised URLs for your different offerings, while still keeping everything under the umbrella of your primary domain name.

For example, you might run a primary site at ‘‘, but have a dedicated subdomain for your food segment accessible at ‘‘.

Creating a sub-domain is a direct and uncomplicated process. First, you’ll need to log into your cPanel account. Once there, look for the “Domains” section and choose the “Subdomains” option. This is where you can create a new subdomain by entering the desired name.

When you create a new subdomain, it forms its own directory for you to install the necessary software. This allows each of your sub-domains to function according to their unique needs.

For instance, while your main site might operate using WordPress, your new subdomain could take advantage of the e-commerce capabilities of Opencart. This design flexibility is one of the main reasons to consider the use of sub-domains.

Domain Redirects

If you’re the owner of multiple domains, but operate just a single website, there’s a way to make all of those domains point to your main site. This practice, known as domain redirection, is quite straightforward to set up. Besides, it’s one of the many tasks you can easily carry out through cPanel.

First things first, log into your cPanel account. Then look out for the section labeled “Domains“. Inside this, you’ll find the “Redirects” option. This is your one-stop resource for setting up domain redirects.

Once you’re in the “Redirects” interface, you can define a few parameters. You can specify which of your owned domains need to be redirected and where they should be redirected to. It’s important to note that you can only redirect domains that you actually own.

Setting up domain redirects is an ideal way to maximise the effectiveness of your online presence, allowing visitors to reach your main website regardless of which of your domains they’ve entered.

It’s a convenient way to bring all your online traffic under one roof. So, explore this cPanel feature and let all roads lead to your main website!

Split Domain and Hosting Across Companies

While putting all your digital assets under one roof is generally recommended – for convenience and ease of management – there are situations where you might choose to have your domain registered with one company and your hosting provided by another.

The possibility of this setup does indeed exist, and it can come with its own set of advantages.

For example, you may prefer the domain services of one provider because of their superior customer service or domain management features, while another provider impresses you with their robust and affordable hosting packages.

When you decide to purchase a new hosting package with such an arrangement in mind, the provider will usually ask if you wish to use a domain you already own as part of the setup process.

Once you’ve confirmed your interest and completed the purchase, they will promptly send you detailed instructions on how to link your domain to their hosting.

However, it’s worth noting that this arrangement may come with its own share of administrative dilemmas. There might be technical adjustments to make and additional settings to tweak, which can add a bit to your plate, especially if you’re not naturally tech-savvy.

In such a situation, an alternative solution would be to transfer your domain to the new hosting provider altogether. This way, you can simplify the process and have all your website-related services managed in one place.

Before making this decision, ensure you understand the transfer process, associated costs, and any potential downtime.

When Moving Website Hosts

If you’ve got a hosting account already but want to move providers, it’s going to require a bit of legwork. It’s not just about purchasing a new account and having the new host take over the domain. What happens to all of your actual website data?

When moving to a new host there’s a good chance that the company won’t help you transfer all of the data over and it’ll be up to you. You’ll need to back up all of your website’s data and its databases.

In order to do this, log into cPanel, look for the “Files” section, and click on “Backup”. From here you’ll be able to download everything in easy .zip files.

This process may seem daunting, but it is absolutely manageable when you understand the steps involved.

For more detailed guidance on this topic, check out our informative blog post on Moving Your Data To a New Server. This piece provides a comprehensive overview of the process and will certainly give you the confidence to tackle this task on your own.

As you can see, cPanel is an incredibly powerful tool to help make running your website easier. Besides the features listed in this article, it can also monitor website traffic, storage space, and a range of other features. Have a look around and you may just be surprised.

The Author

Michael O.

Michael is the founder, managing director, and CEO of HOSTAFRICA. He studied at Friedrich Schiller University Jena and was inspired by Cape Town's beauty to bring his German expertise to Africa. Before HOSTAFRICA, Michael was the Managing Director of Deutsche Börse Cloud Exchange AG, one of Germany's largest virtual server providers.

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