What is Web Hosting and How Does It Work?

If you’ve just bought and registered a domain name and are ready to start your website, you must think about web hosting.

Some businesses and individuals have the means to host websites on their own; others rely on the services of external parties.

What is web hosting? Web hosting is a service provided by a hosting company, and for a recurring cost, you’re renting a server or part of a server to store your website, which is accessible over the internet. You access your website using a domain name.

There are many web hosting service providers. The most popular companies are

Each is offering various hosting packages to meet every individual website owner’s needs. Depending on your preferred load time, uptime, and type of servers, you can find suitable web hosting services.

In this article, I go more in-depth about web hosting, types of web hosting services, and how to select among different web hosting service providers.

What Is Web Hosting And How Does It Work

What is web hosting?

Web hosting is providing storage space on the internet for websites.

Think of it this way: Businesses have physical locations and stores to provide goods and services in the real world. Now, if you want to do the same online, you’ve got to set up a website.

A website is a collection of related pages online. Think of it as your sales pitch or a business card that invites clients to sample your products and services.

A website is not just for selling products or services; it can also provide helpful information, like my site, Your simple Hosting.

Now those related pages must live somewhere; that’s what we call a server.

Servers allow people to access your website from different parts of the world via their computers and phones. Therefore, when you pay for web hosting services, it is just like renting a physical store, but now space will be on the internet!

Servers deliver your files as soon as your visitor’s machine requests them. Without the services of web hosting companies, your files will just live on your computer, without a way for your audience to access them. Instead, people use your domain name to access your website.

What’s a Domain Name?

Back to the physical store analogy, you must have a street address that you share with people who want to come to see you, don’t you?

Now in cyberspace, the domain name is equivalent to the street address. It usually starts with your business or website name and ends in .com, .edu, .org, or something of the sort, e.g., Microsft.com.

Domain names and other internet protocols are managed by different nonprofit organizations such as ICANN, and IANA, for seamless internet services.

The domain name is what people type in their browsers, and voila! –they are on your website to browse pages.

Depending on the design, your website may be inviting or a turn-off. Think of it as your physical store; if there’s no proper arrangement for customers to access items, you will not entice many of them.

No one wants to waste time searching for items tucked away in shelves in corners behind rows of other things.

Display and layout matter; the online space is characterized by split-second decisions and snap judgments. If there’s no logical flow of information on your website, people aren’t going to ‘walk’ in; it’s bye-bye to you and hello to your competition.

Domain names can be bought from brokers, registrar of domains, or domain auction websites. In addition, you have the option between brand new or old domains.

Old domains with a good reputation are always preferable as they’ve already established backlinks, referrals, and authority. But they’ll cost you more. Check for different domain names available here.

After you buy the domain, you register it, giving you the right to use it for your business for a year. After a year, you can choose to renew or terminate it.

Finding hosting for your website

If you already have a website running and want to know who your domain host is, just type the name of your domain in the ICANN lookup, and you’ll get the name. Alternatively, just check the receipts you got during domain name registration or transfer; the host of your domain will be listed.

If you are a new website owner and are looking for a hosting provider, there are few things to keep in mind.

A server is where your website lives; you want a perfect home for it. Different providers offer different types of web hosting services. For beginner website owners, figuring out which hosting services will work for you can be a challenge. In addition, differentiating between different hosting services and their features can be tricky.

Lucky for you, once you get the breakdown of different types of hosting, it quickly becomes clear which one your website needs. The next step is finding a stellar provider and set up things quickly to get your website running sooner.

Types of web hosting services

Types of web hosting services refer to how the provider uses storage space on the internet. For example, they may choose to share it among websites, dedicate it to one website, and provide a few specialized services for websites with specific features. Here’s the breakdown:

Shared hosting

Shared hosting is, just as it sounds, a single server for more than one website. It is the most common hosting service because server costs are divided among many website owners reducing the cost per individual. It’s suitable for new and smaller websites.

Advantages of shared hosting include:

  • It’s much easier to share the space on a single server with other website owners than renting an entire server for yourself.
  • It’s easy to use hosting because the server is well organized and pre-configured for your website. Additionally, the hosting company is responsible for security updates and maintenance works.

Disadvantages of shared hosting:

  • Fewer resources because you are sharing one server.
  • Limited administrative control because the hosting company is the one in charge of the server.
  • Lack of isolation means your website is at a high risk of malware attacks.
  • Traffic spikes on the other websites can make your site go down.

The disadvantages aside, shared hosting is suitable for first-time website owners. If you don’t have website management experience, you won’t have to worry too much because most management tasks will be done for you.

Plus, small and new businesses don’t have to worry about traffic. You can begin with shared hosting and upgrade when your hosting requirements outgrow the shared hosting capacity.

Dedicated Hosting

Now when your website traffic has outgrown the capacity for shared hosting, you can rent an entire server for it. Dedicated hosting reserves all the server resources for just one website or website owner. That way, your website is not impacted by other websites.

Advantages of dedicated servers include:

  • Complete administrative control as you’ll be responsible for server management.
  • You can customize the server hardware and software to suit your website features.
  • All the server memory, disk space, and CPU cores are yours to use

Disadvantages of dedicated servers

  • You may have to pay a high price since you want an entire server and all the resources.
  • It’s not suitable for small and new businesses since the extra resources may go to waste.
  • You will have to perform maintenance tasks and security updates on your own

That said, high-traffic websites can benefit from the resources of dedicated servers. It avoids malware or the site going down due to other websites’ traffic spikes. Also, some dedicated hosting providers manage the servers on behalf of their clients.

Virtual Private Server (VPS)

VPS is like shared hosting, but the server is partitioned into different layers and privatized across different users. Each user gets their own Operating System and other software.

So instead of paying a high fee for an entire server, you share the cost with other website owners but without the disadvantages of shared resources, risk of malware, or interference from their traffic spikes.

Advantages of VPS hosting include:

  • It’s cheaper than dedicated hosting.
  • Dedicated resources – you will be assigned your CPU cores, memory, and disk space on the machine.
  • Better security than shared hosting. Individual server partitions are isolated, thus preventing interference from other’s traffic spikes or malware.
  • You can upgrade the disk space, RAM, and bandwidth as your website traffic grow.
  • Some VPS hosting plans include root-level access to the server so you can install any software compatible with the given O.S.
  • Reduced TTFB is short for Time To First Byte (TTFB) and refers to how long the client machine has to wait for the first byte from the server. You can also say it decreases website load time.

Disadvantages of VPS hosting

  • It’s more expensive than shared hosting because you get dedicated resources on the same machine with other website owners.
  • Configuring a server may need technical know-how.
  • It does not allow complete control of the server environment as dedicated hosting.
  • Sometimes, the hosting provider may oversell server partitions leaving you with fewer resources. Always pay attention to how many accounts are registered on the server.

That said, if you want the advantages of dedicated hosting without the high price that follows, VPS hosting is suitable for you. Different hosting companies provide different VPS hosting packages to suit the needs of different businesses.

Cloud Hosting

Often deemed the most reliable hosting service, cloud hosting doesn’t rely on one server but instead pulls resources from several of them for one website’s needs.

Advantages of cloud storage

  • No downtime since you have unmetered bandwidth. Indeed, many cloud hosting services keep websites up 99.9 % of the time.
  • Cloud space can be upgraded anytime.
  • Many cloud hosting providers allow easy migration from other hosting services with a single click to install software and set up everything.
  • Data backups are automatic for when a disaster happens.
  • It is cheaper than setting up your hosting servers.

Disadvantages of cloud hosting

  • Cloud hosting may be cheaper than DIY, but it’s more expensive than shared dedicated and VPS hosting.
  • Cloud hosting also makes a website vulnerable to cyber-attacks unless there’s stellar security.
  • Many people are not familiar with the technologies including how it functions, and interfaces making it challenging to use.

The disadvantages aside, if your site can take advantage of the extensive features that cloud hosting provides, go for it. It’s suitable for high-traffic websites such as popular blogs and bigger sites.

Managed WordPress Hosting

WordPress is the most popular content management platform, with over 75 million users. Because of its popularity, some hosting companies provide unique plans for WordPress website owners.

These are called Managed WordPress hosting, and in addition to storing your site, they also provide security updates, automatic backups, and other maintenance tasks.

Advantages of managed WordPress hosting

  • Most guarantee modern server setups with up-to-date software and powerful hardware.
  • Most hosts provide customized user panels giving you quick access to frequently used features.
  • With managed hosting, you can rely on the provider’s support to optimize your website, leaving you free to focus on other things such as design and expanding your business.
  • Easy access to many different development tools.
  • Automatic backups and security updates are guaranteed.
  • Better security with the use of a web application firewall (WAF) to thwart DDoS attacks. Plus, security plugins are available.

Disadvantages of managed WordPress hosting

  • They are often more expensive than shared hosting.
  • Many don’t include email handling capabilities.
  • Some managed WordPress hosting plans don’t work with multiple sites.
  • Managed WordPress hosting often modify website files to suit their server environment; this can make things difficult when you want to migrate.

That said, managed WordPress hosting makes running a complex WordPress site a breeze. It usually makes use of high-quality setups, increasing your chances of running a successful website.

Examples of web hosting services providers

If you can’t obtain and retain your server equipment, there are many hosting companies with attractive hosting plans you can choose from. Here’s a look:

Blue Host

Bluehost is one of the top hosting companies in the world. It was formed in 2003 and is based in the U.S. it uses PHP 7, NGINX + caching, and HTTP/2 powered servers. That means it’s a modern Linux server. It currently hosts over 2 million domains. In addition, Bluehost provides shared hosting, WordPress hosting, VPS hosting, and Dedicated hosting.

Advantages of Bluehost include:

  • Up to 99.99% uptime.
  • Free backups, daily, weekly and monthly.
  • Faster load time, on average, websites take only 405ms to load.
  • Cheap unrestricted shared hosting, starting as low as $3.99/month.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee and price cuts for new members.
  • Easy migration to higher plans with the help of the Bluehost technical team.
  • Excellent 24/7 customer support.
  • WordPress has endorsed Bluehost and before you ask why it matters, remember WordPress has only endorsed three hosting partners since its formation. It got the endorsement because of its user-friendly WordPress hosting services.

Disadvantages of Bluehost hosting

  • It doesn’t have a wide variety of domains.
  • It is not a reliable host for windows web host services.
  • The servers are only located in the U.S.

Check out BlueHost latest offers.

NameCheap

NameCheap is another cheap web hosting services provider. They are also based in the U.S. but serve worldwide. In addition to web hosting, NameCheap provides domain name registration services, SSL certificates, and privacy protection solutions. It currently handles over 7 million domains.

Advantages of NameCheap hosting

  • The company provides everything under one roof, from domain registration to hosting and security updates.
  • Free migration from other hosting providers.
  • Robust backup and security features such as I.P. blocker tool, SSL certificate, and Leech protection.
  • Free backups.

Disadvantages of NameCheap hosting

  • An uptime of only 99.87 %
  • Slow load time.
  • Only a 14-day money-back guarantee.
  • Low $2.88/month shared hosting but restricted disc space, domains, and email accounts.

Check out NameCheap latest offers.

InMotion Hosting

Another popular hosting service provider is InMotion. Based in the U.S, InMotion hosts over 170,000 domains and is known for outstanding customer service and the latest technology such as HTTP/2 protocols. InMotion, too, promises to keep your website up most of the time.

Advantages of Inmotion hosting

  • A 389ms page loading speed on average.
  • Affordable shared hosting plans. For the service and performance.
  • Excellent customer support.
  • Very user-friendly, in addition to a control panel on your dashboard, you also get a one-click installer to make all your updates.
  • 90-day money-back guarantee!

Disadvantages of Inmotion hosting

  • It doesn’t do free backups.
  • Limited email accounts storage.
  • Uptime is only 99.91 %

Check out Inmotion Hostings’ latest offers.

How to choose the type of hosting?

Capping off on finding hosting for your website, there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting between types of hosting:

  • Type of website – A website can be a blog, e-commerce, or services page. While blogs can do with shared hosting, e-commerce sites involve a lot of traffic requiring the power of VPS, dedicated, or even cloud hosting.
  • Type of bandwidth required for your website – If you need to transfer vast amounts of data to users every time, go for hosting services with unmetered bandwidth.
  • Do they provide backup and security features such as SSL certificates?
  • Do they provide email hosting too, or you’ll have to look for different hosting services for your email accounts? It’s always good to manage everything under one roof.
  • Size of website traffic- if your website traffic isn’t high, the unlimited resources of dedicated hosting will only go to waste; pay for cheaper shared hosting and spare the rest.
  • Budget – Sadly, depending on your budget, some hosting plans may be unaffordable.

Wrap-up

Web hosting services encompass the storage and bandwidth for your website, making it available to users via the internet. A server is a home for your website; it’s best you find the right one for your website’s features. Use the tips mentioned above to select among different hosting services.

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