Web - 5 min read

What is Website Hosting? A Beginner's Guide

Posted  |  Written by David Ligtenberg

What is website hosting? This is a fairly recurring question for anyone who wants to start a blog, a website, or an online store. In this article, we’ll talk about why you need website hosting if you want to have a professional-looking company website.

A simple explanation of what website hosting is: 

Website hosting is a service that allows you to publish a website or application on the internet. When you buy hosting, you are basically renting space inside a server, which hosts all files and necessary data for the proper functioning of a website. Simply put, a server is a physical computer that is constantly working, so your site or application is always online.

Your hosting provider is responsible for keeping the site up and running, protecting it from malware attacks, and transferring its content (text, images, files) from the server to the visitor's browser. 

So do you need to pay for a server? Well, the simple answer is “no”. The more complex answer is: “But you should”. Let’s see why. 

Free hosting services

Nowadays, it’s possible to create a web page and get it up and running within hours thanks to the variety of tools and services available on the market. There are also services that allow you to publish a website or blog for free. Among the free options are some website building platforms (like Wix and WordPress), security certificates (like Let’s Encrypt) and hosting websites, available to anyone who wants to publish a website. But is everything free worth it?

If you are creating a blog and are still not sure whether you will have an audience or get any traffic at all, investing in free hosting is a good option. However, if you want to create a professional-looking website for your business, take a look at the reasons why it’s good to invest in paid hosting:

  • Stability: Companies that charge for hosting usually invest more in infrastructure. Because of this, they have more robust and new servers, as well as a technical team dedicated to equipment maintenance. The result is more stable hosting, where client sites spend literally more time in the air.
  • Security: Paid hosting is also usually safer against hacker attacks and intrusions. This does not mean that it will never be attacked (nor does Google escape it), but rather that it will be better prepared to fight it before it impacts customer sites.
  • Flexibility: In paid hosting, there is a greater amount of resources available, and your site has more flexibility to grow. 
  • Technical support: Support is one of the main differences between hosting models. If you opt for the free option, you get low support priority, which can be a big problem if your site is down, for example.
  • Speed: This is a critical thing to help ensure your site gets good rankings over time, as this is a Google ranking factor. Your site speed also affects site usability, as no one stays long on a slow website, so free hosting will likely impact the amount of traffic you get or the amount of time site visitors will stay on your website.  
  • Domain customisation: And last, but not least… By using a free service like WordPress, for example, you won’t have your own domain name. Imagine one of your customers asks you what’s your website and you have to say: “www.yourcompanyname.wordpress.com”. Not ideal, right? 

If you want a high-quality website for your business, factor in hosting as a fundamental part of your budget. In most cases, web design and development agencies will offer this and or include this as part of the service they offer you. Now that you know what web hosting is and why you should choose a paid option for your business, let’s learn how hosting works.

How does website hosting work?

When you decide to create a new website, you need a website hosting provider to provide space on a server. Your provider stores all your files and databases on the server.

Whenever someone enters your domain in the browser, your provider transfers all the necessary files to fulfil the request. Website hosting is similar to renting a home, you need to keep the rent up to date to keep the server up and running.

hosting-graph

What are the different types of web hosting?

Most hosting providers offer different types of website hosting to meet their client’s needs. The most common types of hosting are:

  • Shared Hosting - You share a server with other clients from your provider. All websites hosted on the same server share resources such as memory, CPU, disk space, and others. The key thing to be aware of in this set-up is your provider is a hosting company providing hosting services to anyone one or are they only providing hosting services to clients they develop and maintain websites for. The latter option is the ideal option, as the first option mentioned will mean you are sharing your website hosting space with hundreds if not millions of other websites. This puts you at risk as these other sites could be of low low quality and security. 
  • Virtual Private Server (VPS) - Here you still share the server with other users, but your provider allocates a section entirely dedicated to you, including features such as processing, memory, and disk space.
  • Cloud Hosting - With cloud hosting, your provider provides you with a server cluster. Your files and resources are replicated on each server. When one of the cloud servers is busy or has problems, its traffic is automatically directed to another server in the cluster.
  • Dedicated Hosting Server - Dedicated hosting means you have your own physical server dedicated exclusively to your site. You have the autonomy to configure your server as you prefer, choose the operating system and software you want to use, and configure your hosting environment to suit your needs. An agency that has its own dedicated server just for its clients is the ideal choice if you want speed, security, uptime and great support. 

What’s the best hosting option for your business? 

As we can see, there are different types of hosting and each one meets a specific business need. For blogs, shared website hosting can often be sufficient, which is great as it costs a lot less than other web hosting. Already the most robust sites can be found on VPS, Cloud or dedicated. As mentioned often a web design company will offer hosting services and they will have their own dedicated servers, which is the ideal solution.

If you are unsure about which hosting service your website needs, we’re happy to assist. We have our own dedicated PowerEdge Dell servers, which are homed in a fast, multi-homed, and redundant Australian network. Have an overview of our hosting environment or get in touch with our team about our web design and web hosting services. 

David Ligtenberg Post written by
David Ligtenberg View Author
This post has been tagged
Web, Web Design, Web Strategy

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