Web Hosting 101: How Does It Work?

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If you are looking into launching your first website, you might have come across the term “web hosting” and wondered what it is.

Web hosting forms the backbone of most of our internet activity, but not a lot of people know how it works.

In this quick guide, we break down the concept of web hosting, how it works, and what to expect from it.

From the difference between domain names and hosting to the different types of web hosting, we’ve got you covered!

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What is Web Hosting and How Does It Work?

A web hosting service allows you to make your website and content available on the internet.

Customers can purchase server space from web hosting companies for these companies to “host” their websites. They also get access to several tools that will allow them to manage their site being hosted on the server.

A web hosting server is the physical location of all the files and content that you have on your website online that you want to make accessible to your visitors.

Every time a customer or a visitor visits your website, information is retrieved from your web hosting server and sent to the screen of the person viewing it.

For instance, when clicking a link to your website, it connects to the webserver making a request, and the server responds by sending the information to the user.

There are different types of web hosting services across the world, and each comes with its benefits.

For example, Mangomatter’s reviews on the best Canadian web hosting services details the subtle differences between the services various web hosts provide in Canada.

The Difference Between a Domain Name and a Web Host

Many people get domains and web hosting mixed up primarily because domain name providers sometimes provide hosting, and web hosting providers sometimes offer domain names, too.

Your domain is just the address of your website. When a domain name is linked to a hosting server, people who type down your address will be brought to your website, which is retrieved from your web hosting server.

Think about it this way: the server is your “house,” and the domain name is just the “address.”

However, don’t underestimate the importance of a domain name. It can add to the appeal of your site, help with search engine optimization, and, as mentioned, it is the address of your website, without which your site cannot be found.

What Does a Web Hosting Provider Give You?

Your web hosting provider can give you a number of things, and this includes a file-transfer protocol, which allows you to upload your website’s files to the server, support for a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress.

This will enable you to create a website, email accounts that are “@your domain name,” and other features depending on who you are buying your services from.

Different Types of Web Hosting

There are different types of hosting, and there are various hosting providers all offering something for everyone’s needs. The most common types of hosting are:

  • Dedicated Web Server – Getting a dedicated server means getting a dedicated physical server that you do not share with other people, resulting in the fastest speeds of access for your needs and better bandwidth. These are recommended for people who have eCommerce platforms that require maximum performance because of high-traffic and the like. They are more costly and usually require a system administrator.
  • Shared Web Hosting – This is hosting space that is shared with other people. Take a standard server and break down into several parts where different people are renting a piece of it. The upside to this is that it is cheaper since costs are shared, but the biggest downside is when another website on the server suddenly gets heavy traffic, the rest of the “co-tenants” suffer from the lagging performance as well.
  • Virtual Private Server Hosting – This is said to be in-between the realms of dedicated and shared web hosting because someone who purchases VPS hosting gets the price of shared web hosting, but with the customizability of dedicated server hosting. It’s great for advanced users who need to tweak specific settings.
  • Cloud Hosting – Cloud hosting is relatively new to the game, but it is gaining ground as one of the web hosting services to watch out for because of its flexibility to the needs of its users. It combines several servers in order to provide for an integrated and safe scalable platform for users who don’t know how much they have to scale. Cloud hosting can accommodate any spike in traffic that you may have and their pricing is usually in a pay-what-you-consume structure.

Another alternative is for you to set up your own server where you can host your website that people can access when they type down your address.

However, this is not feasible for small businesses given the complexity of the operation required.

How to Pick a Good Web Host?

Dependable web hosting services are crucial for the maintenance of your presence online, the speed of your website, the number of people it can accommodate at any given time, and the amount of information it can hold for your visitors, which are all, to a certain degree, dependent on the web hosting service you choose.

It all depends on the specific needs that you have. The bigger your audience, the greater the demands it places on your hosting, and as such, you need to know that your provider can deliver.

Another vital consideration is the customer service that you may require, especially if you are new to web hosting.

Advanced users can solve problems on their own with minimal customer service, but beginners could benefit from dedicated customer service.

Conclusion

Web hosting forms the backbone of your website because it allows users to access your site at all times.

It is the home of all the media, text, and coding that you have on your website and without it, you wouldn’t have “visitors” to your site.

There is a lot of technology that goes into running web servers because they are essential for everyday internet operations.

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