Getting web hosting is a crucial part of having a website live on the internet.
The “hosting” aspect of web hosting is a service that companies offer where they’ll store your website’s files, which can then be accessed by a web browser.
These files are essentially stored on a giant computer, known as a server.
If that sounds a little complex, don’t worry; by the end of this post you’ll have a better understanding.
Below you’ll learn about web hosting basics, the benefits of using web hosting, the different kinds of hosting available, and finally, the things you should look for when choosing a web hosting company.
What Is Website Hosting?
When you purchase a web hosting service you’re essentially buying yourself space to store your website’s files.
These files can then be accessed by a web browser, in order for your website to be live on the internet.
Web hosting is offered by various service providers who have the necessary technology to properly store your site’s files.
By signing up for a hosting service you’re essentially renting space on a server that their web hosting companies own and manage.
Since most people or even businesses don’t have servers of their own, they rent out server space from a third-party web hosting company.
A server is a physical computer that runs 24/7, so your site’s files can always be accessed without interruption in service.
These servers are loaded with the necessary hardware and software that your website needs to function.
Your web host is responsible for things like server maintenance, security, and running the right software, so the files on the server can be readily accessed by a website browser, like Google Chrome or Firefox.
How Does Web Hosting Work?
Your website is just a collection of different files. When you create a website you need a place to store all of these files. That place is your hosting company’s server.
On this server, you’ll store your website’s media, files, databases, and anything else required to properly render your website.
Exactly how much storage you have will depend on the hosting plan you choose (more on this below).
If you’re just getting started online, then you’ll probably just be renting a portion of a server that you’re sharing with other websites.
As your storage and traffic needs increase, then you may need to scale up to renting an entire physical server—or at least using the resources of one, with a cloud or VPS server.
When you sign up for a web hosting package you’ll usually get access to the server via a solution like cPanel.
This makes it easy to upload your files to the server. Or, you can install a CMS like WordPress to easily build out your site.
In order to have a fully functioning website, you’ll also need to register a domain name.
Once you purchase this you’ll point it towards your server, which lets the web browser know that this is where your files are located.
Then, when a person types in your domain name or clicks on a link to your site, the web browser gets the files from the server and displays them for the viewer.
All of this should happen in a few seconds or less. If this process takes too long, then you either need to speed up your website or consider switching hosts entirely.
Web Hosting and Datacenters
Web hosting and datacenters get confused a lot. They’re kind of the same thing. But, technically, they’re different.
The term web hosting refers to the service you pay for that hosts your website’s files, so they can be displayed on the internet.
The most crucial element of a datacenter is the network of servers.
A server is actually kind of similar to the desktop computer you might have sitting on your desk, only they’re more powerful.
The term “datacenter” refers to the actual technical infrastructure used by the hosting company to provide the hosting service.
Beyond servers, this will typically include things like backup supplies, security measures, connection devices, air-cooling systems, and a lot more.
Different Kinds of Web Hosting
Most web hosts will offer various forms of hosting packages. Each type of hosting will cater to different website needs.
For example, a site that gets millions of visitors per month will have different requirements than a site that was built a few weeks ago.
Here’s a breakdown of the most common forms of web hosting packages out there today:
Shared hosting is easily the most common form of hosting. It’s also probably the most suitable style of hosting for a lot of website owners.
With a shared hosting plan, you’re sharing the physical server environment with dozens to hundreds of other websites. And sometimes even more.
Do you know what VPS hosting services are? VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. This style of hosting relies upon something called “virtualization”.
This allows you to use the resources of multiple different servers, but it all acts like it’s a single server. So, essentially you can tap an entire network of servers and scale those resources up or down as your needs change.
Cloud hosting is a relatively newer form of hosting. However, it’s risen quickly to become one of the premier forms of hosting available today.
In case you don’t know what cloud hosting is, it’s when your website is hosted on multiple different servers simultaneously.
If you run a WordPress site, then you’ve probably come across WordPress hosting. You can easily run your WordPress site on multiple types of hosting environments.
But, you also have the option of WordPress managed hosting, which is completely custom-tailored to the WordPress platform.
Why Do I Need Hosting?
You might be thinking: if website hosting is just a collection of servers (which is essentially a computer), couldn’t I just host my own website?
Technically, you could. But, unless you’re an experienced webmaster whose just using their own server for personal projects, it’s more of a headache than it’s worth.