What is Web Hosting and How Does it Work?
When you are setting up a website there are some things that you will most definitely come across, they include domain, hosting and DNS.
The domain name is the first step to setting up your website as it is the address for the website. You can purchase a domain through a registrar like
Namecheap and domains often vary in prices. Registrars sell the same domain names to customers but they offer different services.
Also read: How To Start A WordPress Blog On Bluehost
The second step to take is setting up a DNS or nameservers for the domain name. DNS is an acronym for Domain Name Servers, and it is usually the most challenging part of setting up a site for most people.
Some companies specialize in providing DNS services, but the registrars who sell domain names could offer the whole package—Domain, DNS, and hosting.
Now that you have a domain name server making sure your domain name is directing visitors to your website, the next step in setting up the site is hosting.
Your website is made up of files such as HTML files, CSS files, images and more. For the site to work, the files need to be in a folder on a server that is connected to the internet. The moment you pay a registrar or company to put these files on their web server, you are buying hosting. This means they will host your website files and folders on their servers.
Note that it is possible to host a website on your computer if you wanted to, but most sites are hosted on specialized servers. These dedicated servers are made to handle large amounts of traffic, and they are usually connected directly through the internet. They have backup systems on standby in case part of it shuts down and are configured to block data leaks and attacks and much more. These type of servers work better than personal computers.
If you are wondering what kind of hosting you need, this largely depends on the type of website you have, what you plan to use it for, the size of the site and more. If you decide to go for a platform like Wix or Squarespace, then your website data will be hosted with them—you won’t have to buy hosting.
Other popular sites like Magento and WordPress are self-hosted. This means that you have to find a server space to put them on.
Host providers offer a wide variety of prices and services and whatever you go for should ultimately depend on your needs.
There are cheap web hosting packages, but they are usually limited and only ideal for personal websites. Some of them limit the number of people or devices that can visit your website, and if many people try to visit your website at the same time, the whole site could crash. In the world of hosting, you often get your money’s worth.
Be wary of mixing up domain hosting and email hosting with website hosting. Your domain is separate from your actual website, and it needs to be hosted somewhere. Some web hosts bundle email hosting with their website hosting, but it is safer to use an external email provider like Microsoft’s Outlook servers or Google’s Business Apps.
Data Center V Web Hosting
A data center is different from a web host(the company that offers web hosting services.) Web hosting refers to the server that hosts the website or the hosting company that rents out the server space to you. A data center, on the other hand, is the facility that is used to house the servers, it could be a room, a house or a building with backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, security devices and environmental controls like air conditioning and fire suppression.
There are four major types of hosting servers;
- Dedicated Servers
- Virtual Private Server (VPS) Servers
- Shared Servers
- Cloud Servers
Your website shares a server with many other sites from a few to thousands. It is cheap, and many websites with average traffic running necessary software are hosted on this type of server. It requires little to no technical knowledge, and it is a good option for beginners.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
A VPS divides a server into virtual servers, and each website is hosted on a dedicated server, but the sites share a server with a few other users. The users have access to their virtual space and a more secure and reliable hosting environment. If your website could use more control at the server level without you having to purchase a dedicated server, then this is a good option.
Dedicated Server Hosting
This offers a higher level of control over the web server your website is stored on. It involves renting out an entire server, so your site is the sole property hosted on the server.
This option offers an unlimited ability to handle traffic spikes and a high level of traffic. A group of servers (the cloud) work together to host websites, and this enables multiple computers to work together to handle the traffic spikes for any of the sites.