When you decide to start a website, one of the first important decisions you’ll make relates to which web hosting service you’ll go for.
You can’t run any website without some kind of web hosting service, so this decision needs to be made with care and consideration.
When it comes to looking for a host, many people are unsure where to start. If you’re reading this, likely, you don’t even know what web hosting is.
In this post, we’ll go through everything you need to know about web hosting and hosting providers. We’ll explain what a hosting service is, how it works, and what benefits you should expect from hosting providers.
We’ll also take you through the different types of hosting available, enabling you to see how to get the best outcome for your site.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Web Hosting?
- What Is A Website Host, And Where Is A Website Hosted?
- Key Features You Should Expect From Your Web Hosting Provider
- The Most Common Types Of Web Hosting Services
- Why Your Web Hosting Provider Is Important For Your Online Business
- The Difference Between Web Hosting & Content Hosting: What You Need To Know
- What Is Web Hosting Compared To Domain Hosting?
- What Is Web Hosting? What We Know And Why It Matters?
What Is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is an online service that allows you to publish your website on the internet.
It is the business of housing, serving, and maintaining a website for a website owner.
Sounds complicated, right? Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple. We’ll break it down.
When you join a web hosting service provider, you rent their web server. This server stores all of the files and data that your website uses to function.
It is the responsibility of your web host to store your website’s files on its server and ensure that they are maintained properly, keeping your website live and accessible on the internet.
Think of it this way – web hosting is what allows you to create and maintain your website.
Without web hosts, your website would lack an online home.
What Is A Website Host, And Where Is A Website Hosted?
Web hosts are companies that offer web hosting services.
They provide the technology and services required for you to display and keep your website on the Internet.
Websites are hosted on web servers, where all of your web files are stored.
When you pay a dedicated hosting company, you are essentially paying to rent a space on their server for your website to obtain an online presence.
Think of it as renting a physical space from a landlord.
Imagine the web hosting service is a tower block, and your website is one of the multiple properties within that building.
Most service providers ensure the webserver is running efficiently so that your site remains active and functions properly.
Find out what is a server and how it works.
Key Features You Should Expect From Your Web Hosting Provider
Here, you will find out the components and services you should expect from service providers.
You can find further information relating to these features below.
- Email Accounts
- FTP Access
- Content Management
Most hosting providers require that users have their own domain name.
Email account services enable you to create email addresses for your business that match this domain name.
For example, take the website www.diggitymarketing.com.
With email account features provided by the web host, we can create firstname.lastname@example.org, for example.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a standard protocol used for data transfer between computers.
This enables you to upload your website’s files from your computer to your web server. This is what allows your website to be accessed through the internet.
We’ll come to content management in greater detail shortly.
All you need to know for now is that most web hosting services offer what’s known as a ‘CMS’.
CMS stands for Content Management System, and what it means is that you don’t have to know any complicated web languages to build your website.
Instead, you can add web pages, images, and other files directly to your website through a site builder without needing to upload them to your server in markup languages, like HTML.
Your database is a collection of all of your website’s data.
Again, think of your website as a building. The database comprises all of the structural components that keep it standing.
Pretty much every web application requires a storage system for its data and content. A database is the most popular form of storage.
Your web hosting company’s job is to store your database on a dedicated server in a hosting environment, such as a Networking Operating Center (NOC).
The Most Common Types Of Web Hosting Services
There are multiple types of hosting providers available.
All compete for business and offer competitive hosting plans.
Knowing which hosting plan to choose is not always easy. So, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular web hosting services available.
- Dedicated Web Hosting
- VPS Web Hosting
- Cloud Web Hosting
- Reseller Web Hosting
- Colocation Web Hosting
- Shared Web Hosting
- Self-Service Web Hosting
A dedicated web host will provide you with a dedicated server.
Let’s use our property analogy again. When you live in an apartment block, you share the complex and its resources with other people.
With a dedicated server, your website lives in a detached property with its own supply of resources. You do not share it with anyone else.
The benefit of dedicated servers, or dedicated hosting in general, is that you do not run the risk of your site being slowed down by other sites using the same server resources.
In addition, you have root access to your server. Root access means that you can access any resource on your server at any time.
This option is ideal for those with a business website receiving regular high quantities of web traffic.
So, what is a VPS?
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server.
Virtual Private Servers, or a virtual Dedicated Server, operate as individual servers on one large physical server.
With this hosting option, a virtual server appears to each client as a private server. However, the same server is actually hosting multiple websites.
Think of VPS hosting as a halfway house between shared hosting and having your own dedicated or private server.
Cloud-Based web hosting is a relatively new trend in the web hosting industry.
It is now considered by many as the most reliable hosting platform.
Different from VPS hosting, cloud hosting technology enables thousands of individual web servers to co-function in order to work as one giant server.
The greatest benefit of a cloud-based web hosting plan is that the servers can accommodate large surges in web traffic.
There are now multiple hosts offering cloud hosting plans.
Reseller Web Hosting
Reseller hosting services are essentially a shared hosting plan with extra tools to enable you to sell server space.
Reseller hosting packages include greater technical management (often via the Web Host Manager (WHM) control panel), as well as invoicing tools.
Colocation Web Hosting
Colocation web hosting refers to the process of renting a physical space for your server from a data center.
You provide the hardware, but the host provides the elements required for it to work, such as power and an internet uplink (a connection from a local area network (LAN) to a wide area network (WAN)).
With this option, the onus is on you to fix the issue if your software fails. It is not the responsibility of the host.
Like cloud hosting providers, colocation facilities offer private virtual servers.
We touched on the downsides of shared hosting when discussing the benefits of dedicated hosting.
With shared hosting, you share a server with thousands of other websites. This can affect your site’s performance, particularly if another website on that server receives high volumes of web traffic.
However, shared web hosting is extremely cheap.
It is a great place to start for anybody new to owning a website, e-commerce, or online marketing.
In particular, shared hosting is recommended for personal websites or small businesses not dependent on high web traffic volume.
Self-Service Web Hosting
Self-service hosting requires greater technical knowledge on the part of the user at the set-up stage.
You are responsible for installing and configuring the software that your server will use to maintain your website.
You are also responsible for all server management.
Why Your Web Hosting Provider Is Important For Your Online Business
The correct host for online business owners is dependent on multiple factors, including your business offering, size, stage, and support/technical/storage requirements.
As outlined in our article on Web Hosting for Beginners, there are numerous factors to consider when choosing which hosting plan to purchase.
We’ve outlined and summarized these below.
As with any business decision, you should ensure that the cost outlay aligns with the value it brings.
Once you have decided which type of web hosting plan you require, be sure to compare pricing.
Just be careful not to go for the cheapest option purely due to this factor.
Some hosting websites may even offer free hosting.
Customer Service And Technical Support
You should also choose a reliable web host known for good customer service and technical support.
Not being able to reach your host when your website is down could cost you money and impact your business.
Most providers will provide an average site ‘uptime.’ This refers to the time a site is live. Ideally, it should be higher than 99.9%.
A key factor to consider when choosing your web host provider is server speed. Unsurprisingly, this is the most important factor for your site’s speed.
Not only does a slow website impact your visitor experience, but it is also detrimental to your search rankings.
Proven by Google’s Algorithm Speed update, site speed is a direct ranking factor.
The Difference Between Web Hosting & Content Hosting: What You Need To Know
As established, you need a web host to store your site’s content and keep it on the internet. This is the basic premise of web hosting.
Many users often confuse web hosting providers with content hosting providers. While the two are linked, they are not the same thing.
Content Hosting, or Content Managed Hosting, is a service that pairs web hosting with a Content Management System (CMS).
An example of this is wix.com, which allows users to create a website by dragging and dropping pre-designed pages.
Wix offers free web hosting for its users and automatic access to its CMS, which provides you with the tools required to create your own website content.
A web host without a CMS, such as WPX, does not typically offer this as a standard package. Instead, it simply stores your website’s content. This is the fundamental difference between the two.
The key benefit of a Content Management System is that it enables you to edit and publish website content without needing to know programming languages, like HTML.
Luckily, you don’t actually need to pay more for content hosting. Through most web hosting companies, you can simply add a CMS (like WordPress) onto your hosting package at no additional cost.
What Is Web Hosting Compared To Domain Hosting?
Whilst many people think that web hosting and domain hosting are interchangeable terms, they are not the same thing.
In fact, there is a huge difference between these services.
As we’ve covered, web hosting refers to the process of housing your website and all its data on a remote web server.
It’s all the technology that goes into making sure that your website will be viewable and accessible by anyone who types in its website address (e.g. www.diggitymarketing.com).
Domain hosting, on the other hand, does not refer to housing space for your website, just its name.
What Is Domain Hosting?
A common misconception is that domain hosts and website hosts are the same thing. They are not.
Domain hosting is a service in which a company hosts your website’s domain name, such as “www.diggitymarketing.com.”, but not the contents of the website.
By contrast and, as we’ve covered, web hosting is a service in which a company hosts your website’s data and contents. This is the key difference between the two.
Think of your website hosting as your house and all of its contents. Your domain name is your home address. This information is needed in order for people to know how to find you.
It is the job of the web host, not the domain host, to ensure that the structural components that keep your house standing, and all of the possessions inside of it, are safe and secure.
Domain hosts use records from a Domain Name System (DNS) to connect your domain name to the web hosting provider that is handling your website.
This diagram demonstrates the process a little more clearly.
With a domain host, you can purchase a domain name and rent it for a subscription fee, in the same way that you rent server space from a web host.
You can purchase a domain for your own website from domain registration services.
However, you can purchase both a domain and a web hosting account at the same time from most web hosting companies.
What Is Web Hosting? What We Know And Why It Matters?
We’ve covered a lot in this article and provided plenty of information relating to web hosting in a pretty short space of time.
Let’s take a look at some key takeaways.
- Web hosting is an online service that allows you to publish your website and its web pages on the internet.
- We’ve been through the main types of hosting services, and you should now be familiar with the differences between each. You should also know which hosting service is most suitable for your online business.
- There are several features you can expect from all standard web hosting plans. These include Email Accounts, FTP (to transfer website files), and a CMS.
- Web hosting differs from content-managed hosting. Content Managed Hosting partners website hosting with a CMS.
- Domain hosting refers to the practice of purchasing and renting a domain name from a domain host. It is often confused with web hosting, which, as you now know, is not the same.
Finally, when you’re comparing web hosting service providers, remember that the server on which your website is hosted will often determine your site’s speed.
This is a factor that will impact your website’s SEO and affect your rankings.
It is worth paying for a good hosting service to retain and increase your site’s traffic.
So, consider the factors covered in this article and don’t choose your hosting provider based on the web hosting cost alone.
For a list of our recommended hosting providers, feel free to read our article Web Hosting for Beginners.