What Is Website Hosting? – A Beginner’s Guide

What Is Website Hosting - A Beginner's Guide

Let’s talk about hosting and what it means for website owners. In my previous post, I talked about domains and what they are. I briefly talked about hosting, but promised another post for that. So here it is!

Hosting, websites, and domain names all go hand in hand. You need all three together in order to have an online presence for your business.

Think of it this way: the domain name is your phone number, the website is your phone, and the hosting is your service provider. They all go hand in hand. One is useless without the other two.

This is where my websites are hosted if you’d like to take a peek.

Web Hosting Definition

This is what Techopedia has to say:

“A Web host is an organization that sells or leases memory space on its servers. Web hosting is typically done in a data center, which provides services to clients that enable them to publish websites on the Internet. A Web host can also provide data center space and an Internet connection for servers owned by others. The service provided by a Web host is called Web hosting.”

In other words, it’s a service you need, to publish your website on the internet. These different web hosting companies all have similar technologies that allow your website to be seen online.

When an individual wants to view your website, they type your domain name in their browser. Their computer then connects to the server you chose to host your website. Your website “files” are then delivered to them for viewing.

what is website content
Or in the phone analogy, you type the phone number into the phone, and the service provider (Telus, etc.) allows you to connect with the person you are calling.

Oops, Wrong Number…

Have you ever seen the “404” error come up in your search? That means the webpage you were looking for has either been moved or no longer exists on that host server. So though the message is implying it’s your fault and you should have known it moved, haha, it’s because there was no “redirect” set up to direct you to the new URL address.

web pages not available
As a website owner, this is something to always consider. Don’t just delete or move a page. It reflects poorly on you if your visitor is handed a “404” message. It’s like getting a wrong number with your phone call. (Only you don’t hear a strange voice on the other end.)

If you need to remove something, then please set up a redirect to maintain your good standing.

What Do Web Hosting Companies Do Exactly?

Your website is made up of various types of files and images etc. All these things need to be put in a folder on a computer that’s connected to the internet. This computer is what we call a “server”. It serves up our website files when someone wants to view it.

what is web hosting and how does it work
When you pay a company to put your file onto their servers, you are paying for “hosting”.

Companies that host websites will have from one to many thousands of computers run their hosting software. Most websites you see on the internet are located on a “shared” host, which will house several hundred websites. Large websites, like apple.com for instance, will have their own “dedicated” host. Because they have huge amounts of traffic, they need many computers to host just the one website.

Let’s Talk About Some Types Of Web Hosting

Shared Web Hosting

This is the most common type of business website hosting. The service provides one server, shared among many customers.

Think of shared hosting as living in an apartment building. You’re sharing your space with many neighbors, and possibly barking dogs and wild parties.

web shared hosting is like an apartment building

The advantages are:

  • much cheaper monthly price
  • the hosting company takes care of all the maintenance and security updates
  • many services offer a free domain and website builder

The disadvantages are:

  • sharing resources with others may mean poor performance of your website if one business gets busy with high traffic (more bandwidth for them means less for you).
  • everyone on that server shares one IP address. If one of the businesses is involved in illegal activity, adult material, or black-hat SEO (people not obeying search engine guidelines), Google’s displeasure is reflected on everyone.
  • even though they may say “unlimited storage”, you can’t actually surpass your “fair use” storage limit. Though it’s not a problem for most of us, if you plan on having a huge site with thousands of files, you may get a stern talking to.

Some popular companies include:

  • GoDaddy
  • HostGator
  • DreamHost

Dedicated Hosting

This is the granddaddy of hosting. You get your own server, dedicated to you and only you.

Think of dedicated hosting as living in your own mansion. No neighbors, no dogs and no parties (unless you invite them yourself, haha).

web dedicated server is like a mansion

The advantages are:

  • full flexibility and customization of both the hardware and software you choose, to meet the needs of your business website.
  • you’re guaranteed the desired performance for your website because you’re not sharing with your server resources with anyone else.

The disadvantages are:

  • more expensive because you’re not sharing the cost with others.
  • you need the technical knowledge to manage and configure your server. Though, I’m sure this can be supplied at an additional cost….of course.

Some popular companies include:

  • Liquid Web
  • InMotion
  • Bluehost

Cloud Hosting or VPS (Virtual Private Servers)

This is where shared hosting and dedicated hosting meet in the middle. It’s become extremely popular over the last few years as it offers the best of both worlds.

Cloud servers still use physical hardware down here on earth but are spread out over more than one server. Yet each cloud server has it’s own dedicated resources, almost like a dedicated server. (Have I said “server” enough yet…?)

Think of cloud hosting as you living in the penthouse suite with your own private elevator. The building management is there to help you when needed, but you don’t ever have to see or hear your neighbors.

hosted cloud server is like a penthouse suite

The advantages are:

  • greatly reduced downtime, because your website is relying on more than one server at a time.
  • if one server slows due to increased traffic, another server provides what’s needed for optimum speed.
  • even though you are sharing servers with others, you receive dedicated resources like bandwidth (site speed and efficiency), and memory (storage capabilities).

The disadvantages are:

  • the “virtualization” software may give you more freedom to design your server the way you want it but requires more technical knowledge.
  • the cost is still too high for small businesses to manage.

Some popular companies include:

  • Cloudways
  • Bytemark Cloud
  • DigitalOcean

I always try to find a relevant video for you to watch, for you visual learners.  This one is short and sweet, and I had to giggle when I watched it.  He used a similar analogy to mine..:)

Important Features To Look For

No matter the type of hosting, or who you choose to do business with, it’s important for you to consider these factors:

  1. Server reliability. You want to ensure little or no downtime, and adequate server speed.
  2. Technical support. You want responsive 24/7 customer support.
  3. SSL certificate. You’ll need this added security for any e-commerce site.
  4. Site backup. In today’s world of hackers, you want the security of a backed up site.
  5. Email accounts. Any self-respecting business has it’s own email accounts!
  6. Costs of upgrades. As your site grows, you will need added features.
  7. Domains registration and website builder. Why not look for the convenience of having everything done in one place?
  8. Additional domains. Will they allow you to run multiple sites on one account?
  9. Domain transfer. Can you move any other domains or websites over to them, easily and efficiently?

Always read the fine print. There’s nothing more frustrating than signing a year’s lease because of that amazing introductory price, only to find out your second year is double or triple the price.

compare web hosting sites and read the fine print
Don’t forget, you get what you pay for. Remember above when I mentioned having unsavory neighbors on your server? You can expect this risk to be considerably higher with a cheaper hosting company. Not that a cheaper company would offer you all the above anyway……so just walk away…..

My Recommendation

There are many hosting companies online, some good, some not so good. The better ones will offer you more reliability, and the important features listed above. You need to take the time to sit and compare all their features before deciding who will suit you the best.

Or… I could save you all that time and show you the best server for web hosting. They offer all the above and so much more for a very reasonable price.

Not only do they register domains, build websites, and host up to 50 websites for the same price, they take you by the hand and show you how to get your business up and running with the proper tools and training.

This is who I use, and though I’m not up to 50 websites, you never know! If you’re interested, please click on my review button below. And don’t forget, I’ll be there to help you along the way.

wealthy affiliate review button

I hope this post gave you all the hosting information you needed to set you up on your way. Do you have a domain or website yet? What is your business? Let me know in the comments below.

And if you know someone looking for a new hosting company, please share this post with them.

Your friend,

Suzanne

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