‘Server’ is one of the most multi-sided terms on the Internet. The most common meaning of ‘server’ designates a network attached computer which hosts a specific service or group of services.
What is a server?
From a networking point of view, a server refers to any computer that is attached to other computers through an Internet or local network connection and that provides specific services.
Depending on the services provided there are different types of servers. When the server provides access to a specific software application or operating system we have an application server.
If the server is responsible for handling a database for a specific application or website, we talk about a database server.
There are file servers, which provide a file hosting service; print servers, which manage the connection between all the computers in a network and their printer devices; web servers, which provide hosting services for websites and web based applications.
There are also many other different types of servers – email servers, peer-to-peer servers, game servers, fax servers, etc.
The hosting server
The hosting server is a server machine which is dedicated to providing web hosting services.
The ordinary hosting server runs a Linux or Unix-based (like FreeBSD) operating system with a MySQL and/or a PgSQL database server, a ProFTPd FTP server, an Apache web server, a BIND DNS server and an Exim mail server.
There are also hosting services based on the Windows Server platform, the IIS web server and the MS SQL database solution.
The Linux and the Windows server hosting platforms differ in software and in some of the services provided, but both are dedicated to offering web hosting services.
Both store website files, as well as various programs and applications. Both provide access to modern, fast and secure database managementsystems.
How to get hosted on a server
To take advantage of the services provided by a server, individuals or companies need to sign up with a hosting provider and to choose a plan that corresponds to their particular demands.
Depending on their needs they can sign up for various types of hosting packages and different sets of dedicated servers. Some large organizations and great enterprise companies run their own servers.
The hosting package allows shared access to the services provided by a server. The server provides services to multiple clients and every client has access to a “portion” of the server which corresponds to their hosting package features. Beside web hosting packages, there also may be domain hosting, file hosting or email hosting plans.
Unlike the shared hosting packages, the dedicated server hosting solution allows a single customer to run different types of services on a server.
The access to the server is granted via an SSH connection. Another server management option is the web-based Control Panel.
5 Best Hosting Services for New Websites
Below is a list of 5 best website hosting providers that we’ve found reliable and with good speed. They have all performed well in the last 24-months.
1. Bluehost – Best Overall
Bluehost web hosting has been around since 2007 and they now host more than 3,000,000 websites. They are the most popular, low-cost hosting option for new websites.
They are our top-rated web hosting company because their last 24-month uptime and speed are very strong – 99.99% and 405 ms, respectively.
2. HostGator Cloud – Best Cheap Cloud
HostGator, founded in 2002, is a popular shared and cloud hosting provider that is currently hosting over 2,000,000 websites.
According to our last 24-month data, HostGator Cloud has a strong uptime (99.99%) and above-average speed (399 ms) making it a strong contender to Bluehost.
3. Hostinger – Cheapest Price
Our last 24-month data shows that Hostinger has an average uptime of 99.95%, but a very fast average loading time of 350 ms making it the best cheap web hosting you can find.
Hostinger (who also owns Hosting24) offers extremely affordable hosting plans without compromising too much on the quality and performance of the service. While it’s cheap on the price, the features that come with Hostinger’s plans will appeal to many beginner website owners.
4. GreenGeeks – Best “Green” Hosting
GreenGeeks has been around 12+ years and hosts over 500,000 websites.
With 99.98% uptimes and load speeds of 445 ms, GreenGeeks offers fast and reliable hosting at an affordable rate of $2.95/month. Add to this their feature-rich bonuses, high-quality 24/7 customer support, and environmentally friendly practices and it’s easy to see how GreenGeeks are quickly carving out a name for themselves in a wildly oversaturated market.
5. DreamHost – Pay Monthly, No Higher Renewals
Founded in 1996, DreamHost is one of the oldest web hosting providers. The company hosts over 1.5 million websites, blogs, and applications in more than 100 countries.
According to our last 24-month data, DreamHost has an average uptime (99.94%) and adequate speed (648 ms) making it a reliable hosting solution.
What makes DreamHost different from many other web hosting services is that they offer an option to pay monthly instead of yearly.