If you want to establish a strong online presence for your business, you need to understand web hosting. Whether you are interested in creating a professional website or simply want to get an idea of how it works, knowing “what is web hosting” is important.
You can think of web hosting as a service designed to help users make their websites accessible on the internet. That means it’s an important step in building a website.
Web hosting offers a secure place to users where they can rightly store their online content like images, videos, text, and code. Without it, no website can offer consistent access to its users on the web.
Good web hosting makes it simple for businesses to build a reliable web presence. Not to mention, web hosting comes with attractive advantages like backups for security.
Businesses that offer web hosting services are called web hosts that configure, maintain, and run physical servers. So, when you purchase web hosting from a service provider, you are actually paying for their server space for storing your website data.
Web hosting is a part of a three-step process of establishing a website:
- Register a domain: The first thing you need to do while building a website is register a domain. For this, you can find different registrars like HostGator, Bluehost, Google Domain, GoDaddy, and more. After that, you are required to choose a personalized name for your IP address.
- Nameservers (DNS): After registering a domain, you next need a DNS service. This service will help your targeted customers visit the correct IP address. Some domain registrar offers DNS service, but you can choose a different provider. Common service providers are OpenDNS, CleanBrowsing, CloudFlare, and Public Google DNS.
- Web hosting: Once everything is done, you require a web hosting service to safely keep your online content, which includes CSS and HTML files, media content, and other similar content.
In this guide, we get into how web hosting works and help you get familiar with the different kinds of hosting services you will come across in the market.
How Does Web Hosting Work?
Web hosting service is offered by companies. You rent the company’s server space by choosing one hosting plan. Besides server space, these companies also offer connectivity, software, services that businesses need to make their website go live.
You can see a server as a computer where files are stored and available on the world wide web. But if you can use any computer connected to the internet as a server, what’s the need for web hosting?
Well, the thing is that some users might not understand the configuration. That’s why they opt for hosting web services. A web hosting service works by providing a secure space to users where they can store their online content.
How Domain Hosting Works
While purchasing a web hosting plan, you need to know that it’s not enough to make a website easily accessible to visitors. If you want your targeted customers to easily find your site, you need a domain name.
A domain name manages and hosts domain names. This service is usually offered by domain hosts, aka domain name registrars. Here, a domain name is an address to your website. Customers use this address to reach out to the desired website.
A domain host is able to connect to your domain with your site’s IP address by using a domain name system (DNS). An IP address is actually a unique address given to the physical server. A typical IP address looks like 148.241.256.204.
The main role of an IP address is to help computers identify each other online. But the thing is, it’s difficult for a person to remember the number and use it for accessing the website. And this is where DNS comes into play. With its help, people can easily load the site on their browser without knowing the IP address.
A domain name also acts as a tool that plays an important part in the branding of a website. The URL is the first thing people see when they visit your website. Thus, it’s always recommended to pick a domain name that is catchy and easy to remember.
Here’s how you can find a perfect domain name:
- Try to choose a short name, which customers can easily remember
- It’s also essential to choose a name that is easy to pronounce and spell
- For better results, you should stick with commonly used domains (TLD) like .com
- Avoid using hyphens and numbers, as it might make your domain tricky
- And if you can’t find the best domain name even after following these steps, you can take the help of a domain auto generator.
To buy a domain name, you can take the help of trusted web hosts that offer domain registry services like Bluehost, Hostinger, or GoDaddy. Also, you can search for already existing domains with the help of WHOIS and ICANN.
The advantage of getting a domain registry service from your web hosting company is that you get an opportunity to manage both services with a single account.
Why is Web Hosting Important?
The main role and responsibility of a web hosting company are that it maintains its servers’ proper functioning. It is done so that the websites can have better performance 24/7.
This service is essential for several businesses because having a good site with better uptime can improve users’ experience and sales.
Moving further, a better web hosting service also helps in improving a website’s search engine optimization. The web host that you choose can play a huge role in affecting the site’s speed. And this is an essential thing that search engine’s consider while ranking the web page.
Not to mention, purchasing a web hosting plan is better than having in-house hosting. That’s because then you don’t have to spend money on hiring developers or maintaining the physical hardware.
Besides this, some web hosting providers even offer an intuitive control panel. The role of this tool is to help the business owners so that they can easily control the upload website files, install applications, website and hosting service, and manage domain names.
Types of Web Hosting
The best thing about web hosting is that there’s no one size fits all solution. There are a variety of different hosting solutions for different kinds of websites.
That means you can choose a service plan that rightly meets your needs and demands – and you don’t have to pay more than you need to.
VPS hosting, reseller hosting, shared hosting, dedicated hosting, cloud hosting, and WordPress web hosting are the commonly available web hosting service plans. Each of these hosting plans can be designed to meet different needs so that everyone can get what they want. Besides the differences in features, these service plans also differ in price and management.
Below is a brief description of popular hosting plans to help you understand which one is right for you.
Shared Hosting is a basic hosting plan where a single computing server hosts several websites. Business owners who want to build a website with a low budget should choose this plan.
The number of websites that a single server can host can be somewhere between dozens to hundreds. The websites that are hosted using a single server have the same RAM, CPU power, and disk space.
Not just this, but the website also shares the same folder where web content and other files are stored. But the best thing is that no one can see each other’s data because they don’t have root access to the website.
However, the absence of root access can restrict the website owner from performing certain tasks. It includes installing software required for any project or modifying the server-wide configuration files.
If you choose a shared hosting service, you can use different features like FTP accounts, site builders, databases, and tools.
In addition, the shared web hosting providers even handle server tasks like updating security tools and software. It even looks after the server configuration. It is done so that you can solely focus on the building and growth of your business website.
With this hosting service on your side, you won’t get confused. That’s because it’s easy to understand and use. Also, the website owners get an option to install and host several websites using a single account for managing different projects. But again, the number of websites that can be managed depends on the hosting provider.
Here’s why shared hosting should be your choice:
- Low maintenance: The company will handle the basic server maintenance and monitoring for you. You won’t need to worry about dealing with the technical side of hosting.
- Cost-effective: The main reason people like shared hosting plans is because it is affordable. It is cheap because the maintenance fees and single web server fees get distributed.
- Supports dynamic websites: A shared web hosting service can run different programming languages such as Python, Perl, and PHP to create dynamic websites.
Here are some cons of shared hosting you should consider:
- Potential security issues: Since site owners share server resources, if a hacker takes down the server your site is hosted on, all the sites on the server are affected.
- Unstable performance: If there is a surge of traffic on some website on the server your site is hosted on, your site’s speed will slow down.
Next comes the VPS hosting, i.e., Virtual Private Server which is capable of hosting several accounts using a single server. But the difference here is that it offers dedicated resources for each user. Also, this hosting plan lets the website owners install their software and operating system.
It is possible because the VPS hosting service works on a hypervisor that helps install virtual layers on the server’s operating system. It splits the server into different segments.
The VPS hosting is further divided into two categories, i.e., managed and unmanaged.
Unmanaged VPS hosting lets you maintain and configure the website on your own. If you choose this hosting type, you are required to perform tasks like installing and updating software, monitoring security threats, and backing up services.
The unmanaged VPS hosting plan is the first choice of website owners or web developers with technical knowledge. That’s because they like to run and maintain servers on their own.
And website owners who do not have technical knowledge opt for the managed VPS hosting plan. For the users of this plan, the web host keeps the virtual server running by managing everything. It is the main reason a managed VPS hosting plan costs more than an unmanaged one.
Regardless of the type, you must choose a VPS plan so that you can get a reliable and better hosting service. Your website performance won’t be affected if you select this hosting service. Also, you don’t have to compete for computing power because each account has its own server space.
Below are the reasons why you must consider getting such a hosting plan.
- Secure: Security won’t be an issue with a VPS hosting plan. This plan offers better security control to the website owners. You can put up firewalls and add security tools. Also, with a VPS plan, you can minimize the risk of hacking intentions.
- Highly scalable: One impressive thing about this hosting plan is that it’s highly scalable. You can easily scale the hosting plan without disturbing the functioning of the servers.
- Root access: Lastly, users can have access to the root environment that lets them modify and install software as per their needs.
Some drawbacks of VPS hosting include:
- Higher cost: Since VPS hosting offers better performance and flexible access to resources, the cost of this kind of hosting is higher.
- Technical knowledge required: Using VPS hosting requires understanding of server management and CLIs.
Unlike Shared and VPS hosting, cloud hosting offers multiple servers to deliver better performance and uptime. This service plan offers better availability because it can distribute web files across multiple virtual servers.
Compared to other hosting service plans, this plan can handle traffic surges in a better way. It’s possible because Cloud Hosting Plan uses other web services to offer untapped resources.
With this service plan, you can get features like simple server management, disk usage activity, CPU utilization, allowing users to scale quickly and keeping track of hosting metrics.
Here’s why you should choose this hosting plan:
- Safe from physical server issues: If you choose the Cloud Hosting plan, your website will not go down after a hacking attempt or sudden increase in traffic. That’s because when one physical server stops working, the other server gets started automatically, keeping the website in a running condition.
- Scalable: Cloud hosting plan comes with an opportunity to grow your resources to fit your needs.
- Backup and disaster recovery: Lastly, this web service can reduce data loss risk and back up web files automatically.
Some cons of cloud hosting are:
- High cost: Cloud hosting is more expensive than shared and VPS hosting. However, there are some companies that offer affordable cloud hosting.
- Confusing prices: Some cloud hosting providers let customers pay for only the resources they end up using. But this can make it hard to estimate an average cost of using cloud hosting.
Businesses that require high performance, bandwidth, and uptime find cloud hosting services the most useful. However, if your site receives huge volumes of traffic, getting cloud hosting is the right way to go since it ensures that your site won’t slow down with a traffic surge
The fourth hosting service plan is Dedicated Hosting, which can be seen as a better version of Shared Hosting. That’s because this plan rules out the possibility of performance and security risk that the Shared Hosting plan involves.
By selecting this service plan, you can even get better features. But the feature comes with a regular maintenance and management cost. This plan is ideal for business owners who want to get more control over their websites.
Below are a few features that make a Dedicated Hosting service plan better:
- Flexibility: Not every hosting plan comes with flexibility, but a Dedicated Hosting plan is quite flexible. That means it lets you customize the server according to disk space, software, RAM, and CPU requirements. Also, it lets you change the server environment.
- Full Control: With a Dedicated Hosting plan, you can get complete control over your website. So, you can freely deduce which application or site management tool you want to move.
The only thing to note about this Dedicated Hosting without server or technical knowledge, this plan can be different to deal with.
The last service plan is Managed Hosting. These plans are typically faster than shared hosting plans and also take away a lot of the legwork involved with maintaining a website. But the catch is that you won’t have the same administrative options.
If you choose this plan, the security and maintenance responsibility stays with the provider, and you get to manage content via FTP.
Here’s why you can consider Managed Hosting:
- No hidden operational costs: Many unmanaged hosting service plans have hidden operational charges, making them costlier than they seem. But Managed Hosting does not have any additional cost.
- Monitoring of server: The highlight of Managed Hosting plan is that it monitors servers to detect vulnerabilities, failures, and irregularities. Thus, it enhances your website’s performance and productivity.
What to Look for in a Web Hosting Service
Before choosing any website hosting service, you need to look for the below-mentioned key factors to find the right web host.
Speed can make or break your business because visitors generally expect a load time of not more than 3 seconds. That means if your site is taking longer than expected, many visitors might leave. So, you should select a hosting service provider that offers a faster server.
It’s also important to find a website hosting provider with a data center close to your target audience’s location.
You can use tools such as GCP Ping to measure the latency (time to contact a data center and get data from it) and figure out how distance can impact your website’s loading speed.
After speed, the next thing to consider is the performance. With a reliable hosting provider with a better uptime guarantee, you won’t have to struggle with delivering the best performance. Your reliable service provider will keep the site running and alert you in case of downtime.
Choosing a web host that offers the required security features is essential. The kind of features you need is determined by the type of site you are running.
If you’re running a WordPress site, choosing a host that offers spam prevention and removal tools can be extremely helpful.
You must remember to pick a host that offers SSL certificates free of cost, since this will make your site more trustworthy by protecting your visitor’s information.
Every website owner has different needs. Some are satisfied with the basic features that come with basic plans. At the same time, some need additional tools and features to improve the functionality of their website.
So, if you are the latter one, you need to find a web host service provider that can let you add tools or one that comes with add-ons. The add-ons include email account, content delivery network, antivirus software, extra space, or bandwidth.
If you do not have any prior web development experience, you might want to choose a web host that comes with 24/7 support. This way, you can always stay in touch with customer care. And if you have any issues, you can get them resolved immediately.
Besides 24/7 support, your web host should also have informational videos and educational blogs on different topics.
If you have a limited budget, you will need to do your due diligence to find a suitable provider within your budget constraint. And if you are not sure about the entire idea of purchasing a website hosting service, you must choose a provider that offers a money-back guarantee.
Not to mention, your web host provider should also come with a scope of growth. That means it should let you upgrade your service plan without any hassle.
Frequently Asked Questions About Website Hosting
Do I really need web hosting?
Free tools like WordPress will help you build a website for free. However, if you want the site to be accessible via the internet, you must invest in website hosting services. That’s because this plan offers server space where web files and images can be stored and delivered to your visitor’s browsers when they visit your site’s URL.
How much does web hosting cost?
It totally depends on the web hosting service provider and the hosting plan you have selected. For instance, if you are interested in creating a blog website, you can do it with a Shared Hosting plan by paying anywhere between $2 to $7.
Which web hosting is best?
The web hosting plan that will work for you depends on multiple factors. These include skill set, budget, requirements, and type of website you want to create.
If you want to start an online store and expect thousands of visitors, it is best to get either VPS or cloud hosting.
Conclusion: It’s Time To Get Web Hosting
Purchasing a website hosting service is essential for everyone who wants to build a website. As per the budget and needs, anyone can select the best hosting plan for them.
Several hosting providers offer excellent value for money with their cheap plans. All that’s left for you to do is find a plan that works for you from known and trusted hosting providers. You will then be one step closer to running your very own website on the internet.