Hosting, in its most generic sense, is a service through which storage and computing resources are provided to an individual or organization for the accommodation and maintenance of one or more websites and related services. While hosting doesn’t need to be IP-based, the vast majority of instances are web-based services that allow a website or web service to be globally accessible from the Internet.
Hosting is also known as Web hosting or website hosting.
Techopedia explains Hosting
As a highly critical service, hosting has facilitated the development and growth of the Internet. Hosting is primarily provided by a hosting service provider that builds a specialized backend computing infrastructure. In turn, the website owner/developer utilizes the infrastructure to host its website via uploaded source code, where each website is distinguishable by its unique domain name and logically allocated Webspace and storage. After the domain name is specified in a Web browser, a website is accessed by the Internet.
With the evolution of technology and delivery models, hosting has evolved into a variety of formats, including shared hosting, dedicated hosting and cloud hosting. Besides websites, hosting also may include data/storage hosting, application/software hosting and IT services hosting. The line is also blurred with cloud computing and virtualization, which allow another level of sophistication and customization.
When a hosting provider allocates space on a web server for a website to store its files, they are hosting a website. Web hosting makes the files that comprise a website (code, images, etc.) available for viewing online. Every website you’ve ever visited is hosted on a server.
The amount of space allocated on a server to a website depends on the type of hosting. The main types of hosting are shared, dedicated, VPS and reseller. They are differentiated by the kind of technology used for the server, the level of management provided and the additional services on offer
In a nutshell, web hosting is the process of renting or buying space to house a website on the World Wide Web. Website content such as HTML, CSS, and images has to be housed on a server to be viewable online.
What exactly is a server? A server is a computer that connects other web users to your site from anywhere in the world. As the name implies, web hosting service providers have the servers, connectivity, and associated services to host websites. By offering a variety of hosting plans, they cover the spectrum of hosting needs, from small blogs and large organizations.
If you’re planning on creating an online presence, reliable web hosting is essential. There are literally hundreds of web hosts available today providing thousands of varieties of web hosting services. Plans range from free with limited options to expensive web hosting services specialized for business. The plan you choose will depend primarily on how you plan to use your website and how much you have budgeted for hosting.
Choosing the right hosting plan will mean having access to the right allocation of resources to keep your website loading quickly and reliably for your visitors. Think about how many businesses these days operate primarily online; their sales and business leads come from their website. If someone lands on a website and there’s a problem — it takes too long to load or doesn’t appear at all — potential customers won’t wait around. They’ll bounce off that site in search of one that works correctly and can deliver what they are looking for, seamlessly.
If you’re new to operating a website, web hosting and related lingo can be a puzzling topic. Many novice website owners has used the cheapest option or anything bundled with their domain name purchase under the mistaken belief that all hosting options are essentially the same.
This can be a costly mistake.
This article includes everything you need to know about web hosting and how choosing the right one is important to the success of your website, all in a simplified manner you will understand.
How does web hosting work
Web hosting happens when the files that make up a website are uploaded from a local computer onto a web server. The server’s resources, (RAM, hard drive space, and bandwidth) are allocated to the websites using it.
The division of server resources varies depending on the type of hosting plan chosen. To choose the appropriate hosting plan, you first need to differentiate between the plans available. This doesn’t have to be complicated. For the non-technical readers, let’s use a simple analogy: Choosing web hosting is similar to searching for office space:
How do you decide which type of office space is right for your needs? Is a workstation in an open co-working space enough, or the next best thing; an office within a business centre? Do you have intentions to expand quickly or expect a lot of people to come and go? Would you consider renting an entire building or would building your own space appeal?
Aside from the style of office, you use there are other considerations. How easy the rooms are to access, which functions do they offer (extras such as a whiteboard, high-speed internet, and other facilities), where are they located and the overall cost? These considerations will determine your needs and help decide which type of office is right for you. Let’s compare this selection process to deciding which web hosting fits.
- Shared hosting is similar to renting a workstation in a busy, noisy, open-plan office or co-working space. You have all the modern conveniences: a desk, internet connection and some stationary and you share the space with other co-workers including the kitchen, printer, and restroom. You can’t do any makeovers to the space such as installing whiteboards etc. This is a popular option for launching small websites and is not appropriate for large-scale commercial projects.
- A virtual private server (VPS) is a nice step up from shared hosting. Medium-sized businesses will benefit from renting an office within a business park. With a VPS, users are isolated from each other. You have neighbours, but you are less dependent on them, and you can carry out any makeovers (customizations) as you like and organize your workstation on your own.
- Using an entire office building is comparable to hosting on a dedicated server. It’s a more expensive option and best for websites that value reliability and high performance. Since you control the entire space, you have more say over configurations and plenty of space, but it’s not worth investing in if you won’t use the space included.
We’ll discuss each type of hosting in greater detail later in the article.
Web hosting and domain hosting
Once you’ve purchased a domain name, the files that hold your website’s content (HTML, CSS, images, databases, etc.) need to be stored together in a location connected to the internet — a web server. Once the website’s files are uploaded to a hosting company’s web server, the host is then responsible for delivering the files to users.
We’ve mentioned that hosting makes websites available for people to visit through their web browser, but how does that work exactly? The domain name system (DNS) makes sure that the website browser connects to the right computer (server) that stores your website files.
In other words: when someone types in your web address into their browsers, their computer connects through the internet to the web server holding your website files. It locates your domain’s IP address (where it’s stored on the domain name system) and directs the users to the right website.
Dedicated hosting means you have the entire server to yourself. It gives you access like a VPS, but you don’t have to share the server with other sites or apps. Effectively, you are leasing a physical web server housed at your service provider’s facility. You also have professional support and expertise on hand when needed.
This top-end web hosting is only warranted for highly demanding enterprise-grade websites. Small and medium-sized businesses do not need to spend thousands each month to rent a dedicated web server for their business.
These days, cloud hosting has become a bit of a nebulous term. So, we would strongly recommend looking closely at what you are getting if you are signing up for “Cloud Hosting”.
In the beginning, “cloud hosting” referred to a VPS setup scalable to multiple servers; this way, if your web application had a sudden traffic spike, the system would be able to provision more resources and keep things running smoothly. Cloud hosting would have a more variable pricing model and fluid specs as a result.
However, as the popularity of cloud computing has surged, some companies have started to co-opt the term for their regular shared or VPS hosting. Other providers like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure offer cloud computing services, which usually include cloud hosting in an array of other advanced tools for cloud-based operations. While possible, hosting a typical website with one of these “hyperscalers” operating millions of servers can present a high technical hurdle
Shared hosting is when a web hosting provider hosts a number of different websites on the same server. It is the most affordable form of hosting because you share the same server, so you split costs. If you are looking to start a blog or have a business that’s just starting up, then shared hosting is a good option.
In the past, sharing a server could lead to problems where a spike in traffic or resource usage from a single site would slow down its “neighbouring” websites. However, these days web hosting subscriptions come with a generous amount of resources that ensure good performance.
WordPress Hosting simply means hosting that has been optimised for WordPress on a server level to ensure smooth sailing.
How is WordPress different from regular hosting? While details vary by provider, most WordPress hosting packages offer these common traits:
- Simple one-click installation that avoids the dozen or so manual steps in configuring a new WordPress site. At one.com, WordPress installs automatically in under a minute.
- Server configurations optimised for faster loading of WordPress sites. This could include performance cache optimisations and other tweaks.
- Security measures to protect against common WordPress vulnerabilities. As WordPress powers over 30% of the web, it regularly comes under attack. You might also come across “Managed WordPress”, which often refers to a pre-defined secure environment that restricts usage of unsupported or vulnerable plugins.
WordPress hosting can run on shared, VPS or dedicated servers.
How much does website hosting cost?
Your website hosting cost will vary by provider. Technically you can use a free web hosting service, although, we do recommend avoiding them.
Free vs Paid web hosting
By opting for free hosting, you may encounter problems such as unwanted advertising on your page and the domain name in your URL. When you pay for web hosting, you are in full control of what content is on your website.
There is numerous reason why you should choose paid web hosting over free web hosting:
- Bandwidth & disk space – Free web hosts will give a lower bandwidth and limited disk space to their users. Paid web hosting can offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space.
- Content limitations – Unlike paid web hosting, with free hosting the number of images and videos you can upload, is limited.
- Security breaches – Paid web hosting usually comes with much higher security. By using a free web hosting provider, you have a higher risk of a security breach. this means your customer’s credit card information and other data can be stolen.
- Domain name & URL – Free hosting providers will give you a domain name, with their name in your URL. When you use paid hosting providers, you will get a custom URL and can choose your domain name.
- Server speed – Free web hosting servers often overload, which means you may have to wait through a few hours of scheduled downtime. Paid hosting providers offer high-speed drives, with guaranteed uptime.