Can you imagine the internet without websites to connect to? Pretty hard isn’t it? Well, that’s simply because the internet is made up of websites. Without websites, there’d be nothing on the internet.
That’s why web hosting is so important. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your design is or how informative the content, without web hosting services it cannot go live online. Web hosting creates the platform on which you build your site.
When you visit a website and find exactly what you’re looking for it’s because of the power of web hosts. Behind the scenes, millions of servers around the world are not only hosting data but also bouncing requests and responses off millions of other servers, computers, and IP addresses. All this to ensure that you access and see exactly what you are looking for when you visit a website.
It may be hard for you to wrap your head around the backend complexities of web hosting, luckily, you don’t have to. But, the parts of web hosting you need to learn about will be shared right here. Consider this as web hosting 101, with all you need to know about web hosting.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting refers to a group of services that stores all the data that makes up your website. Without web hosting your website cannot be published online. Web hosting is provided by data centre companies or web hosting service providers.
Web hosting companies provide domain name registration, MySQL databases, FTP, and email accounts to customers among other things. These services are combined with a collection of software tools that help to manage the server hardware that’s used in web development and online communication.
Do I Really Need a Web Host?
This question may seem a little rhetorical but just in case you didn’t understand what we said above, yes, you do need a web host! Well, you do if you want to have your website published online for persons to find it. Web hosting is what takes the beautiful pages you’ve designed and the content you’ve worked so hard on and make them accessible to people using various devices across the world.
Web hosts don’t just make it possible for persons to access your site, web hosting companies also offer a number of important added value. Service providers usually invest in proper firewalls and other security precautions to protect your website from hackers. Not only that but they also provide expert support as well as maintenance services to ensure your website stays up consistently. If a web hosting company doesn’t offer these features you shouldn’t use their services.
Different Types of Web Hosting
So, now that you are certain you need web hosting, it is time to learn about the different hosting options that exist. There are four common types of web hosting solutions offered by web hosting companies. These are, shared hosting, VPS, cloud hosting and dedicated servers. The one you choose is dependent on the type of website you have and the amount of power it needs to run smoothly on a consistent basis. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of web hosting solutions mentioned above.
Think of shared hosting as a pizza divided to serve you and all your friends. Some of you may only get half a slice while others may get a whole slice or even two. Shared hosting divides a single server into thousands of smaller accounts that house multiple websites. That’s basically a large number of domain names on a single server using the same IP address. You will also share the same CPU, RAM, hard drive, and bandwidth resources. This is the cheapest web hosting solution and is usually used by beginners who run small sites that don’t require a lot of resources to run smoothly.
- It’s inexpensive.
- Easy for beginners to configure.
- Can be extremely slow since several other websites are running on the same server.
- It’s not very secure.
- Doesn’t scale well as you already have limited bandwidth and storage to begin with.
VPS Web Hosting
Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a step up from shared hosting. This is where web hosting providers use virtualisation software to create multiple virtual servers on a single server.
“Unlike shared hosting, each website has its own set of resources and is private.”
Keeping the pizza scenario in mind, with VPS you are guaranteed an entire slice just for yourself. You don’t have to share your RAM, bandwidth, storage or other resources. In addition, VPS technically operates similarly to dedicated servers (you learn about this soon) just at a lower level. You also have the option of choosing to have the web host manage your VPS or go the unmanaged route where you are in charge of your server.
- It’s also cheaper than dedicated servers.
- More secure than shared hosting.
- VPS is faster than shared hosting as it has more dedicated resources.
- It is scalable. As your website thrives, you can increase the resources you have to facilitate its growth.
- It’s more expensive than shared hosting.
- If you choose an unmanaged VPS, it will be difficult to configure especially without technical knowledge.
Unlike other web hosting solutions, cloud hosting doesn’t use physical servers. Instead, it uses virtual servers to store your files and data. By using virtual technology, cloud servers can generate an unlimited number of virtual servers that collectively act as individual entities. Cloud hosting works well for websites that need a lot of processing power based on the volume of online traffic it receives. In the pizza scenario, it’s like having as my pizzas as you want except they aren’t physical.
- It’s easy to scale up resources much as the growth of your website’s growth requires.
- High uptime as it technically is supported by tons of virtual servers.
- Faster website speed and performance.
- It makes disaster recovery easier.
- Accessibility can become an issue since you can only access it via the internet.
- It’s prone to cyber attacks.
- Security issues.
Dedicated Server Hosting
This web hosting solution is the most expensive but also the most flexible of the plans discussed. Dedicated Server hosting allows you to lease a complete rack-mount server within a data centre. That’s like getting all the pizza you want knowing you never have to share it with anyone at all, not even virtually.
Also, with dedicated hosting you have complete control over the software configuration of the server. You also have access to all of the allocated hard drive space, and RAM memory.
“Dedicated servers are generally used to host huge sites that get an extremely high volume of traffic on the web, as well as by mobile apps.”
- Extremely reliable and backed by high-quality resources.
- Offers enhanced security.
- Flexibility to customise the server to specific needs.
- Facilitates higher uptime and therefore, better performance.
- It’s expensive.
- You will need at least basic technical knowledge.
We hope you now have a better understanding of what web hosting is, why it’s important and the types of web hosting solutions that exist. You do need a web host in order to bring your website to life for others to see. If you are ready to create your very own website, you will need a trusted website hosting provider. This article, ‘Eight Factors to consider when choosing a reliable web host’ will help to guide you.
Also, before you choose a hosting package, think about what you want your website to represent and how much power you will need to make it happen. That way you can choose a web hosting plan that’s best suited to your needs and even your budget. Whatever you decide to do, there are several excellent web hosting plans and a team of experts willing to assist you.