If you own a website or thinking of buying one, you might have come across the term web hosting and might be thinking, what is it, and why do I need it? You are not alone in wondering what website hosting is; it is one of the most common questions web developers will be asked when discussing buying a website!
This E2E guide will run you through everything you need to know about website hosting and how to choose your web host!
What Is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is the term given to the process of storing all the files and data needed to have a website that is available for anyone to access on the internet. Web hosting is done on servers, essentially very powerful computers with one purpose: hosting sites.
Why Do I Need Website Hosting?
Web hosting is what your website needs to be available on the world wide web. The easiest way to visualise it is to think of a car. A car is designed to go from A to B powered by its engine. Without an engine, it goes nowhere. The same concept for a website - web hosting is the engine that makes it move or, in this case, visible on the internet.
You might be wondering why you need a website hosting server if it is just a big computer - why can't you host this from your laptop or PC? While this is technically possible - it is also not practical. Few home PCs could cope with the demands of hosting a website, and even fewer broadband connections have the capacity needed to host a website from home.
Are There Different Kinds of Web Hosting?
There are different types of hosting as different websites require different setups. There are four main types of hosting:
- Shared: Your website will be hosted on a server with other websites sharing its resources and bandwidth.
- VPS: Virtual Private Server (VPS) is similar to shared hosting in that it is not a dedicated server - but does have ringfenced resources for just your website.
- Cloud: Cloud hosting, in simple terms, is lots of servers linked together sharing resources to provide a quicker and more efficient hosting service.
- Dedicated Server: This is a single server dedicated to everything you put on it. They tend to be more costly than other options.
You will also find that each server may have different operating systems within these servers. Much like a home PC might have Mac or Windows, servers can run on other OS to enhance or provide various types of hosting.
What type of hosting you need will entirely depend on the size and type of website you have and what resources it needs to serve your visitors. As a rule, the cheaper the hosting - the slower and less responsive your website will be, more so if it is cheap shared hosting as your website could be being stored on a server along with thousands of other websites all sharing the same resources.
Website Hosting Jargon Buster
Many terms used in website hosting can confuse anyone outside the industry, so we have compiled the top ones you might come across and what you need to know.
Bandwidth in website hosting is the amount of data your website can transfer to your users in a given amount of time. It is usually measured in GB and over a month.
Like your mobile phone or laptop, a server will have a hard disk storing files and folders. The bigger the disk, the more files and folders you can keep.
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a means of encryption for websites. You will see "https://" in the address bar when using a secure page or "http://" if it is not.
A website domain is an address, much like your home, which will have a dedicated address to tell people where it is. A domain is just that but for your website.
Uptime is the term used to describe how much, and as a percentage, the server is up and running, not down. The closer to 100%, the better, but like with anything electrical, they can break down or suffer from external factors such as power cuts.
Web hosting is as complex as it is varied so no one guide can cover it all. So our guide to web hosting above is designed to give you a high-level overview of what it is, a few terms you need to know and a basic understanding. If you have questions about website hosting or want a specific question answered, why not speak to the team here at E2E? We are a team of specialists who help businesses bridge that digital gap they face with services in website hosting, web development, SEO and more.
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