How to Identify a WordPress Site’s Host
When working with a website, you may sometimes need to do a little digging in order to find out who hosts it. For example, if you’ve taken over a project but don’t have all its information at hand, you’ll need some of the data provided by the web host to begin managing the site.
This can be especially important if the site’s domain name host differs from the web host itself, and you are trying to coordinate services. Additionally, you may be looking to purchase a certain domain, or update payments on a hand-me-down project. Fortunately, there are several ways you can go about collecting the details you need.
In this article, we’ll look at how to discover who hosts a specific website. We’ll also highlight some helpful host-discovery tools, and touch on the features you’ll want to look for in a quality web host. There’s lots to cover, so let’s get started!
How to Find Out Who Hosts a Site
How do you know the host of a WordPress site? All websites contain valuable information, including the name and location of their web hosting service. If you don’t know who is hosting a particular site, it’s not hard to learn how to find out who hosts a website.
Step 1: Find What DNS the Domain Is Pointed To
The best place to start is with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN):
ICANN is the official source of registered domain names. This will help you determine where a site’s Domain Name Server (DNS) is pointed. Even if the site’s domain name was registered somewhere else, it should now be pointing to the website’s actual hosting server:
In this example, we looked up our own website, WP Engine. You can see that the nameservers are pointing to a Cloudflare server. This is because we offer Cloudflare services that enable you to set your DNS to point to a URL rather than an Internet Protocol (IP) address. This creates a dynamic DNS rather than a static one, making DNS updates unnecessary in the future if you migrate your site.
Step 2: Ping The Server
Next, you can use the information gathered in the previous step to ping the website’s server. This means you send out a digital ‘hello’ and see if the web server responds. You can use this method to establish whether or not the web host is actually operational.
You can ping the server by using a command line Terminal application to execute commands. You’ll need the nameserver from the previous step. You can simply type in the command ping with a space after it. Then you’ll type in the nameserver, or the website’s URL without the “https://” portion.
If a connection is established and the web server is responding, you’ll receive a feed of information in return and some important ping statistics. If the ping fails, you’ll receive a message that says something like: “ping request could not find host”. Ultimately, a healthy connection should return statistics that indicate there was no packet loss.
Host Checking Tools
If you’re not comfortable with using command lines, or you aren’t sure you’re finding the right information with ICANN, there are a number of other online resources you can use.
Some of the websites you can access to look up hosting information include:
If you’re interested in learning more about DNS lookup tools, there are several other resources out there you can use. DNS information can be important for a number of reasons, such as determining whether or not a registered website is fraudulent.
How Do I Find Out Where My Website Is Hosted?
As we mentioned previously, you might need to determine the host of a website if you begin working on a project that was registered by someone else. If you don’t have all the necessary information for a hand-me-down or previously-abandoned project, you might need to gather those details in order to reestablish contact with the hosting provider.
You can also use the same tools discussed above to locate the host information for your own website. For example, if you were left passwords but no DNS or IP information, you can try the above lookup methods to gather the missing information you’d need. Once you collect the information from ICANN, you can try pinging the server to establish its status. Then you can move on to trying to access the site’s files with an FTP application. Even if that doesn’t work, you’ll at least know what hosting provider to contact for assistance.
Another scenario you might encounter is that you have access to the WordPress dashboard for a website, but you need to collect the hosting information. There’s a helpful, free plugin you can use in that situation. WP-ServerInfo is a simple tool that you can install to quickly retrieve important server information about your website.
How to Verify Your Domain Host
Verifying your domain host with Google is an essential step in driving traffic to your website. By verifying your domain, you confirm that you’re the site owner, unlock extra analytic features, and potentially improve your SEO score.
Using a TXT record is often the simplest way to verify your domain. To learn how, follow these simple steps:
- Visit the Google Search Console homepage and sign in to your Google account.
- Under the “Select Property Type” window, choose “Domain.” Input your domain name without the https, then press Continue.
- In the pop-up window that opens, you’ll find a dropdown menu that lists popular DNS providers. If your provider is on the list, choosing it will bring up a “Start verification” button that authorizes Google to access your DNS account and verify for you. If your provider is absent, or if you prefer to complete the process manually, select “Any DNS provider” from the dropdown and click “Copy.”
- Log into your DNS provider, and add the TXT record to your DNS server. Be sure to set the record type to TXT, then verify the addition.
- Go back to Google Search Console and press “Verify.”
In most cases, verification should be instantaneous, though it can take up to 72 hours.
What Makes for a Good Host?
Often, the search for hosting information is spurred by a desire to migrate to a new web host. Selecting a quality WordPress web host can take some time and research. One of the first factors to consider is what kind of hosting is best suited to your needs.
There are several kinds of web hosting to think about, including:
- Shared. This is the most basic kind of web hosting, and is good for small websites that are just starting out. With this type of web hosting plan, you’ll be sharing resources on a server with other websites.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS). VPS hosting creates private segments of a server that is shared by several websites. Your section is just for you, however. You won’t have to share resources, but you will be on the same server as other websites.
- Dedicated. A dedicated server means you don’t have to share at all. This is a good option if you have a large website or lots of eCommerce functionality you need resources for.
- Managed. A managed WordPress host means you won’t have to worry about updates and server optimization. Your host will take care of all the ‘under-the-hood’ items that keep your website running smoothly.
In addition to deciding what kind of hosting you might need, you’ll want to assess what other services the hosting company provides. If security is a big concern, you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing a secure WordPress host has those bases covered. Also, if you’re looking for higher-end WordPress development resources, such as premium themes and staging environments, not all hosts provide those kinds of solutions.
How Do You Find Free Web Hosting?
Once you know how to find out who hosts a website, it’s time to find your own. One option is the dozens of free hosting options that exist online.
But how do you know a web host is reliable? It pays to do some research before you commit to a hosting provider. Small businesses and personal blogs often gravitate towards free web hosting services like:
- GoDaddy Website Builder
In general, though, free web hosting options come with some advantages and drawbacks.
Of course, the main benefit of a free hosting plan is that it won’t cost you anything. For those on a tight budget, “free” can be appealing. However, free hosting or a free domain usually comes with a catch.
These hosts usually make their money by providing inferior service to convince you to upgrade. Problems with free web hosting include:
- Slow websites due to shared hosting
- Uncontrolled advertisements on your site
- Domain names that include the hostname
- No regular backups
In short, free web hosting can work in a pinch. But in the majority of cases, it’s worth paying for a reputable, professional hosting provider.
Get the Most from Your Hosting With WP Engine
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