Getting web hosting is a vital part of making a website live on the internet. The “hosting” part of web hosting refers to a facility that companies provide through which they store your website’s files, which can then be accessed through a web browser.
These files are basically stored on a massive computer called a server.
Don’t worry if that sounds a little complicated; by the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding.
You’ll learn about web hosting basics, the advantages of using web hosting, the various types of hosting available, and finally, what to look for when selecting a web hosting company.
What Is Website Hosting?
When you purchase a web hosting service, you are essentially purchasing storage space for your website’s files. These files are then accessible through a web browser, allowing your website to go live on the internet.
Web hosting is provided by a variety of service providers who have the requisite equipment to properly store the files on your website. Through signing up for a hosting service, you are simply renting space on a server owned and managed by their web hosting companies.
Since most individuals and companies do not own servers, they rent server space from a third-party web hosting company.
A server is a physical computer that runs continuously so that your site’s files can be accessed without interruption. These servers are pre-loaded with the hardware and software needed for your website to run.
Your web host is in charge of server maintenance, protection, and running the necessary software so that the files on the server can be easily accessed by a website browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox.
How Does Web Hosting Work?
Your website is simply a list of various data. When you build a website, you’ll need a place to keep all of these files. That location is the server of your hosting business.
You will store your website’s media, files, databases, and everything else needed to properly make your website on this server. The amount of capacity you have will be determined by the hosting package you choose (more on this below).
If you’re just getting started online, you’ll most likely be renting a portion of a server that other websites share. As your storage and traffic requirements grow, you can need to consider renting an entire physical server—or at least using the resources of one, with a clone.
When you sign up for a web hosting package, you will usually be given access to the server via a solution such as cPanel. This makes it easy to upload files to the server. Alternatively, you can install a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress to quickly build out your web.
In order to have a fully functional website, you’ll also need to register a domain name. If you buy this you’ll point it towards your server, which lets the web browser know that this is where your files are stored.
When someone enters your domain name or clicks on a connection to your site, the web browser retrieves the files from the server and shows them to the viewer. All of this should take just a few seconds. If this phase takes too long, you can either speed up your website or switch hosts entirely.
Web Hosting and Datacenters
Web hosting and datacenters are often confused. They’re similar in some ways. But, practically, they are not the same. The word web hosting refers to the paid service that hosts your website’s files so that they can be viewed on the internet.
The network of servers is the most important component of a datacenter. A server is similar to the desktop computer you may have on your desk, except that it is more powerful.
The term “datacenter” refers to the technological infrastructure that the hosting company uses to provide the hosting service. Aside from servers, this would usually include backup supplies, security procedures, connection devices, air-cooling systems, and a variety of other products.
Different Kinds of Web Hosting
Most web hosts can have a variety of hosting packages. Each method of hosting can meet the needs of a particular type of website. A site that receives millions of visitors per month, for example, would have different criteria than a site that was developed only a few weeks ago.
Here’s a breakdown of the most common forms of web hosting packages out there today:
Shared hosting is by far the most common form of hosting. It is also possibly the most appropriate form of hosting for the majority of website owners. For a shared hosting contract, you’re sharing the physical server environment with dozens or hundreds of other websites. And on occasion, even more.
The domain, on the other hand, is partitioned, meaning your site is safe from other websites that use the same server. Your costs would be very low since you are effectively sharing server resources with other users of the same server.
A shared host would suffice for websites with low to moderate traffic levels. Since this is the most user-friendly choice, you will be able to manage your hosting environment, install a CMS, configure email, and much more without any technical knowledge.
If you have any idea what VPS hosting services are? VPS is an abbreviation for Virtual Private Server. This form of hosting is based on a concept known as “virtualization.” This allows you to use the power of several servers while acting as if they were all a single server. So, in essence, you can tap into an entire network of servers and scale their power up or down as your needs shift.
A VPS server functions similarly to a dedicated server, but you will also be sharing servers with other users.
VPS hosting is ideal for website owners who need the support of a dedicated server but do not have the budget for one. VPS hosting can be less expensive and more flexible.
Cloud hosting is a more recent form of hosting. However, it has rapidly risen to become one of the most prestigious types of hosting available today. If you’re unfamiliar with cloud computing, it’s when your website is hosted on several servers at the same time.
Cloud clusters are formed by partitioning physical servers. This is advantageous because if one of the servers becomes overwhelmed, traffic is automatically diverted to another cloud server inside the cluster.
Cloud hosting is an incredibly dependable form of hosting. Furthermore, it is highly adaptable and can be scaled up or down in real time, so you only pay for the server services you are actually using.
Dedicated Server Hosting
Dedicated hosting is precisely what it sounds like. You will have access to all of the tools of a physical server. Since you are not sharing server expenses with other websites, dedicated hosting is usually the most costly (as you do with shared hosting).
This form of hosting is typically reserved for websites that receive a high amount of traffic or necessitate a special server configuration. You will be able to run whatever software setup your website needs because you will have access to the entire server.
You’ll get excellent efficiency and improved security with dedicated hosting. However, you can need technical skills or a team to effectively manage your server environment.
Aside from dedicated hosting, you can also choose managed hosting. Where you may request that the hosting team handle and optimize your server for you.
If you own a WordPress account, you’ve probably heard of WordPress hosting. You can easily run your WordPress site on a variety of hosting platforms. However, there is also the option of WordPress controlled hosting, which is fully customized to the WordPress platform.
If you have a small site with little traffic, you probably won’t notice much of a difference in results. However, if your traffic levels are increasing and your site is only growing, you can notice a significant increase in efficiency.
And if you share web server space, it will be shared with other WordPress sites, so the server will be uniquely designed to get the most out of it.
This type of web hosting is critical for your overall security in addition to improved performance and server optimization. It is much easier to defend against attacks that directly target the WordPress site if you just run WordPress. Not only that, but you’ll have a team of trained professionals working to optimize the site and the servers it runs on.
Why Do I Need Hosting?
You might be wondering, if website hosting is just a list of servers (basically a computer), why can’t I just host my own website?
In theory, you may. However, unless you are an accomplished webmaster who is only using their own server for personal projects, it is more trouble than it is worth.
Here are a few reasons why you should not self-host your website:
- You’re responsible for power outages. If your neighborhood’s electricity goes out due to storms or a falling tree, your website will also go down.
- Your internet probably isn’t fast enough. When you pay for internet, the download speed is normally measured. However, when it comes to hosting a website, upload speed is the most important consideration. Even if you have a super fast download speed, your upload speed would most likely be inadequate.
- Regular maintenance can be a hassle. Running servers is no laughing matter. Most hosting companies have large IT teams that deal with server problems on both a hardware and software level. If you run your own server and it fails, you must diagnose the problem, order any necessary parts, and repair it yourself. Your website will be unavailable during this period.
- Your IP address isn’t stable. Your home internet connection most likely has a dynamic IP address, which means it changes over time. You want a static IP address so that the IP address is still the same. Typically, only your hosting company can do this.
Here’s how a web hosting company handles all of the above issues:
- They have power backups. Web hosting companies’ power supplies are not only still on, but they also have backup generators to ensure the site remains running even if power is cut to the main datacenter.
- Incredible speeds. Web hosts can accommodate millions of concurrent users on their server network.
- A dedicated maintenance staff. Maintaining a server network is no easy task. Most web hosts have a dedicated team whose sole responsibility it is to keep the servers up and running with the most up-to-date hardware and software components.
- Finally, you have a static IP address. This ensures that your IP address will remain the same for as long as you continue to use the same hosting provider..
As you can see, if you want your life to be easier and your website to work and be secure, you need a web hosting service.
What to Look for in a Web Host
Every web host is not the same. The host you choose will have a significant effect on the performance of your site, its uptime, and your overall site management experience.
Here are some considerations to make when selecting a web host.
To begin, you’ll want a host that provides the type of hosting you need while remaining within your budget. Sure, you may want to go with the best WordPress hosting available, but if this is your first platform, a general shared host will suffice.
Aside from that, here are some basic characteristics to look for:
- Bandwidth/Traffic – The amount of traffic you receive each month, as well as the number of pages each person views, is referred to as your bandwidth. You should usually choose a web hosting plan that will meet your full bandwidth requirements.
- Storage – Website files are typically small, but if you’re storing a large amount of user data, images, or other media, you’ll need to ensure that the available storage is adequate.
- Uptime – The majority of hosting companies will list their uptime as a percentage. It is common to have 99.9% uptime. However, some websites can need complete uptime.
- Email accounts – Typically, your web hosting company would allow you to set up a domain-related email address. Some hosts will do so for free, while others will charge you.
- FTP – FTP allows you to upload files from your computer directly to your server. This feature may not be required by you, but it may be required by some users.
- Support – It’s always comforting to know that you have a support team by your side. Look for a quality support team that goes above and beyond to ensure that any problems are resolved as soon as possible.
By now, you should have a clearer understanding of what web hosting is, how it functions, and why you need it. So, the next time you wonder why web hosting is relevant, remember this article and consider all of these advantages. The best thing is that you don’t have to grasp any of the complexities of a web hosting package in order to use it.
All you have to do is choose a hosting company, choose a web hosting package, and begin building your website. The more time you spend in the backend of your web server, the better your knowledge will become, and the topics mentioned above will begin to come to life.