Short Answer (quick read).
The question “what is web hosting” can be answered by taking a quick look at this system. So, here we go:
I’ll explain in simple terms what web hosting is, what different types of hosting there are, which system is best for you and what you should pay attention to when searching for a website hosting service.
Here we go. Imagine that you own a ship full of containers waiting in the harbor to be unloaded. However, before you can do this, you will need to rent storage space for the containers. This is the offline procedure for finding storage space.
Now you are the owner of a website. This site is waiting in your computer until it can be stored online so that your website becomes visible to the entire world. This means you will have to look for storage space (also called web space or disk space) for your website. It are exclusively web hosting companies offering this. So you start looking for a web host. This is the online procedure for finding storage space. Offering online storage space services is called webite hosting. So, you now know exactly what web hosting means!
Basically creating a website is something that can be done offline at home, in your office, at school or in an internet cafe. However, bringing and keeping a website online 24/7/365 is a complete different story. Making your website visible all around the world day and night all year through means that your have to buy a hosting plan from a web hosting provider. No website can be brought online and kept there without domain hosting.
What is website hosting at this wonderful Cloud hosting provider?
Exactly the same as described above. The only difference is that this company offers cloud hosting which is better than regular site hosting. When your website is in the cloud there isn’t only one server running your site but there are multiple web servers in charge of this task. The big advantage of this is that the chance of website downtime is much smaller. That is hosting at this provider. All plans come with an easy drag and drop website builder. And, it’s the only web host in the world with a strict No Overselling Policy.
PS. By the way, I use this Cloud Hosting Service myself on a daily basis and I love it!
Hopefully this summary was good enough to answer the question “what is website hosting“. However, we invite you to read on to learn everything about the details.
What is web hosting services?
Anyone who wants to publish a website needs hosting. Simply put, domain hosting is the provision of storage space for the publication of websites on the Internet. Providers use web servers for this, which are supposed to be online around the clock. A web server is a huge computer configured in such a way that it can store large quantities of files (text, images, video and audio) while simultaneously keeping these files online. This ensures that a website can be reached at any time and from anywhere in the world.
Although website hosting is their core business, it is not the only service offered by providers. Usually email addresses, email forwarding, autoresponders, content management systems like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal etc, backups, website templates, a site builder, marketing tools, administration tools, DNS and WHOIS management, SSL, FTP and SSH/Telnet, cron jobs, and website statistics are included in the hosting price. You usually have to pay extra for a domain name, FrontPage Extensions or a dedicated IP address.
How does web hosting work?
I assume you aren’t only looking for an explanation of web hosting but you also like to know how it works. It works according to a simple principle: the web host is the owner of web servers and you, as a customer, can rent an entire server or part of it. Your domain name will be connected to the content of your website through this web server. So, when someone enters your domain name in the browser’s address bar your website will open. In the majority of cases web servers are located in a data center. A data center is a big building full of servers. Usually data centers are equipped with huge power generators serving as backups in case of a power outage and with air conditioning to keep the servers cool.
In most cases, users don’t rent an entire server from a web host but only a part of it providing a specific amount of storage space and some supplemented services. This is called shared hosting. Further in this post I will explain exactly what is included in the offered services.
Who needs web hosting and why?
Probably you, since you landed on this page. Anyone who wants to do business online needs site hosting. Anyone who wants to publish something on the world wide web needs a hosting service. Examples are brands, magazines, newspapers, e-commerce companies, shops, blogs, designers, and social media. All of them can’t do without a hosting service. Put simply, everyone who wants to make content of any kind available to the public via Internet needs web hosting. Web hosts usually offer different packages for small private projects as well as for medium-sized and large companies. If the need increases, the packages can often be upgraded in just a few simple steps.
For large companies it can make sense to use their own server on which the website runs. For private individuals, the cost of their own server is usually too high, so regular website hosting is more useful to them.
What are the different types of web hosting?
I have web hosting explained for beginners but it’s also important to know what different hosting systems are in use. There are different types of hosting that make sense depending on the needs of the website owner. I introduce you to the most important ones.
- A Shared server is the best known and most used variant. The website is stored on a web server and, as the name suggests, it will be shared with many other sites. Users can make settings via an individual login. With a shared account, you can easily and cheaply bring a website online since there’s no real technical knowledge required. However, there’s also a disadvantage: sharing a web server with many others can cause technical problems such as an overloaded server (too many users on it or too much data transfer), other users who are hacked, or are the victim of a DOS (Denial of Service) attack. It’s also possible that a customer himself abuses the system through phishing or hacking. This can have a negative impact on your reputation in the eyes of Google which, in turn, may result in ranking penalties. After all, you are on the same server as the abuser. This list of shared accounts risks is far from complete but, for sure, you already understand it. Anything unusual happening in the website hosting accounts or sites of other customers can affect the performance of your own site or account as well.
- VPS (virtual private server): This system is slightly more expensive than the shared method and it’s by many considered the best type of hosting. With this variant, users also share the hardware of a server. However, virtual private servers are created separately as individual virtual systems. Only the main web server is shared. The rest is not. So, as a VPS customer you don’t share the resources that are allocated specifically to you. This means that, unlike with shared servers, other customers on the same VPS server can never “touch” your RAM (memory), disk or storage space, bandwidth (maximum allowed traffic or data), and your CPU (processing power). Further you’ll be the only one with access to your operating system and extra software that you have installed. Last but not least VPS is, unlike shared and dedicated solutions, easily scalable. This means that you can quickly and easily up or downgrade resources, change operating systems, software etc. Thus we can conclude that VPS is a relatively cheap solution offering more security and much more freedom compared to shared accounts and much more flexibility than dedicated servers.
- Dedicated server: For a large or very complex project, it can make sense to rent an entire server from the web host. With a dedicated server, users have full access to the server, but they are also responsible for security, maintenance and care. Basically this is the most expensive system. Other disadvantages are the fact that technical issues can take a long time before they can be solved, much longer compared to VPS. Last but not least dedicated hosting systems aren’t scalable at all. This means that when you need an up or downgrade you’ll probably have to rent another web server or you have to wait until the needed component or computer part is delivered, installed, tested and approved.
- Managed dedicated or VPS hosting: With this variant, the web host takes care of administration and maintenance. The advantage of this is that you don’t need so much technical knowledge and you have more time for content writing, web design, SEO (search engine optimization), marketing and sales.
- Shared or VPS in the Cloud: With this variant, users are not tied to a specific hardware resource. Your website is hosted by multiple servers all over the world. This ensures that cloud hosting is fail safe (100% uptime) and often users can enjoy optimal scalability. Flexibility and uptime are oftentimes the biggest advantages of cloud hosting. Cloud hosting can be combined with all hosting variants, including shared hosting. The only exception to this is a dedicated server which can never be in the cloud.
How do you choose the best web hosting?
When you’re looking for a definition of web hosting you also need to know how to select the best one for your needs. You should pay attention to various criteria. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How competent are the company’s support representatives? Competence of technical support is especially crucial for starters like you. And, are they able and willing to go one step further than pure hosting support if, for example, you have a web design question which doesn’t really belong to the category of hosting support? Last but not least beware of large hosting companies such as GoDaddy outsourcing support to third world countries. These employees earn very low salaries but they can earn extra when they sell more services to the customer in trouble.
- Is the web host available 24/7/365? Many problems arise outside of regular working hours. That’s why it’s important for support to be available at all times by phone, live chat or email. At any cost stay away from providers with limited opening hours!
- Can I start with a small shared package and upgrade easily if the need arises?
- How many domains and email accounts are included?
- Are SSL certificates included?
- Can I choose a server location that is near to my target audience? (If yes, your site will load faster for your target group).
- Are allowed traffic and disk space unlimited?
- Is there a good uptime guarantee? Uptime should be at least 99.9%.
- Does the company offer a money back guarantee?
- Is there a no overselling guarantee? Overselling means putting too many websites on one server. This can overload the server and it also increases security risks. Currently the only host with a no-overselling guarantee is the company Linux Hosts Inc. See the start of this article.
- Is there a free trial?
What is web hosting – a conclusion.
As we have concluded, hosting is basically nothing more and nothing less than renting online storage space. We have also been able to conclude that this storage space is offered by website hosting companies. Starting and maintaining a domain hosting business means that there are some high investments to be made. This includes buying or renting a building, web servers, and office equipment. Staff will also have to be hired. Despite these high investments, site hosting is generally very cheap. There are two main reasons for this low pricing:
1) There is a lot of competition and
2) Many large hosting companies practice overselling (see above). In this way they can keep the price for customers as low as possible while simultaneously increasing profit. My advice is to skip these very cheap companies when looking for a good web host. If you come across a plan that costs less than $4 a month, you can safely assume that the provider is overselling.
I think you now understand what is the meaning of web hosting. And you also finally know what types of hosting are offered, which system is best for your personal situation and what you should pay attention to before you make a final choice for a web host. Thanks for reading and good luck!