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What Is Website Hosting? – Understanding the Basics

When you decide to create a website for your business or personal use, the most crucial factor to consider is hosting. But what is website hosting, anyway? This article will help you understand everything you need to know about it.

Good hosting provides a solid website foundation, which in turn brings quality to your target audience. 

In 2020, there were over 1.2 billion websites registered online. Plus, the global hosting market is predicted to grow more than $216 billion by 2025. So knowing the basics of website development and hosting is essential.

Let’s learn all about it. 

What Is Website Hosting?

It’s a service allowing you to publish your web application or site online. Signing up for hosting services basically means renting out space on a server. That’s where you’ll save all the essential data and files required for your website.

Web hosts are providers that rent out technologies and services to host websites and applications online. Once you get hosting and launch your site, users will access it by typing your domain name in their browser. Their system will connect to the server that hosts your website and return the correct page.

What’s a Server?

And what is web hosting? You won’t fully understand it until you know the function and importance of a server.

Simply put, a server is a system connecting users worldwide to your website. The hosting providers have them, along with associated services and connectivity to host websites.

What Is a Website Hosting Provider?

It’s a company or business offering services and technologies required to access your website online. Websites are stored or hosted on a hosting server owned by a hosting service provider.

What Is the Difference Between Website Hosting and Domain?

While the two are related, each has a distinct function that helps you reach websites on the internet.

What’s a Domain Name?

A domain name is your website’s address that users type when they want to visit it.

For instance, think of your website as a house. The domain name is the house address that helps visitors find you.

While you can purchase a domain name from your web host, you can also get it from a different provider. Also, you can find the availability of preferred domain names through various websites.

How Are Domain Registration and Hosting Related?

Hosting and domain registration are different services that work together to create and allow access to a website. 

The domain hosting system works like an address book with constant updates. Every domain has an address of its hosting provider that stores the website’s files. Without a domain name, your target audience won’t find your page, and without hosting, you can’t create your website.

Types of Hosting

What is website hosting, and is it always the same?

Hosting providers usually offer multiple hosting plans. Here are the most popular types:

Shared Hosting

That’s when you share the hosting server with other people’s websites. All of you have access to the available resources, like disk space, computing power, and memory. Shared hosting is the most common choice for personal blogs and small businesses.

Dedicated Hosting

With dedicated hosting, you’ll have a server entirely dedicated only to your website. It gives you more flexibility and control over your website management. You can select the operating software and system, configure the server, and set up the web environment per your requirements. It’s ideal for large businesses with heavier traffic

VPS Hosting

If you get a Virtual Private Server hosting account, you’ll share the server with others but have a separate partition allocated to you. So you’ll have a dedicated server with reserved memory and resources. We recommend this for medium-sized businesses

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting offers a cluster of servers, with your resources and files replicated on all of them. If one cloud server has an issue or is too busy, your website traffic will be automatically routed to another server. That means almost no downtime. It’s the most reliable type of hosting on the market. 

WordPress Hosting — WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

It’s similar to shared hosting but solely for WordPress website owners. The server is specifically configured for WordPress, and your website will have pre-installed plugins to ensure the best performance. They include security and caching.  

It’s a highly optimized configuration, meaning the website load time would be much faster, and you’ll have fewer issues.  Plus, it’s one of the most popular hosting services. 

But should you go for .com or .org?

People often get confused about which one to select, but the major difference lies in who is hosting the web services:

  • WordPress.com — WordPress hosts your website. If you don’t want to stress about maintaining your website or purchasing hosting, that’s the ideal option for you. You can create your website for free with restricted features or purchase a paid plan with unlimited options.
  • WordPress.org — You host your own website. If you want more control over the website and your preferred hosting provider, this option is the best. It gives you more customization, personalized themes, installed plugins, and even monetization. 
datacenter with hosting servers

How to Choose Web Hosting

What is web hosting, and how to determine the ideal provider? Selecting a web host is a major decision that you shouldn’t take lightly. Here are some valuable factors to consider:

Avoid Falling for Unlimited Hosting Options

Many people buy a hosting plan just because it offers unlimited bandwidth. It might seem like a great deal, but there are more factors involved. Make sure to compare such plans with those offering reasonable bandwidth to determine the right one for you. 

That way, you’ll realize that the ones with a specific bandwidth amount are actually more suitable for your needs than the unlimited offer. 

Check for Refund Policy and Trial Period

Creating and maintaining a website requires a good investment amount, so it’s essential to find out as much information about the content hosting as you can before you purchase. Check if there’s a trial period and what the refund policy is.

A trial period allows you to create the website and check if it works for you. If you’re happy with the company by the end of the period, you can finalize the purchase or easily opt out if you’re not. Checking the refund policy is also a must to ensure you don’t lose money if you discontinue the service. 

Evaluate the Essential Features

While almost all domain hosting providers offer basic website features, it’s crucial to ensure they have everything you’ll need, including DNS management, file system, and a one-click installer. 

Good Customer Support and Assistance 

It’s an often overlooked factor that’s crucial. You’d need a hosting provider that offers round-the-clock assistance in case of errors and issues like Site123 offering around-the-clock via live chat functionality

If you can’t get hold of customer support, your website could be down for a few hours, resulting in losing money. So the hosting you select should offer good customer support. 

What Is the Difference Between Web Hosting and Website Builder?

Hosting provides space for website builders and websites, but it can’t create a website itself. In contrast, a website builder offers the tools to create a website, but it can’t provide space to host it. 

Both website builders and hosting work together to help you create a website and launch it online. Here are some key differences to help you understand better:

Every Website Needs Web Hosting  

If you want others to access your website, you need hosting for it. But the website builder is optional and helps people without coding experience to have a stunning website. 

Still, you can learn to code or hire a developer to create your site instead. 

Website Builders Offer More Control 

Your website’s appearance plays a significant role in its performance. A website builder gives you more control over selecting your website’s text, images, and colors. It lets you create more pages, add menus, and determine the structure.

Hosting only offers space for you to rent for your website. But without it, no one can visit your page. 

Web Hosting Offers Storage Space for Your Website

While hosting has nothing to do with your website’s appearance, it offers space to store necessary files and data that help run your website. It relates to factors like consistency and loading speed, which reduces downtime. 

But you need an appealing website to encourage people to visit more pages. That’s where a website builder comes in. 

Website Builders Makes It Easy to Design Your Website 

The reason many people prefer a website builder rather than a graphic designer is the ease of use. You don’t need to learn coding to create your site out of scratch, and you don’t have to pay for a website developer. 

Website builders help beginners make their websites quickly without any training. Once you’ve created the website with a builder, you can host it for users to visit and engage with it.

Hosting Plan Features

Another major element of understanding what is website hosting is knowing the different features involved. Hosting plans vary in cost depending on the offer, including security, email, and bandwidth. 

Here are the essential features of most hosting plans:

Disk Space and Bandwidth 

Disk space is the storage you get when you buy hosting. You need it to store the files for your website, including audio, images, and tex. Bandwidth is the traffic amount your website can receive. 

Email Hosting

Web hosting often includes email hosting that’s suitable for both businesses and individuals. Some features include email filters, autoresponders, mail forwarding, mobile accessibility, unlimited storage, export/import address book, customized email addresses, and tech support.

Why would you need email hosting as a feature? According to content marketing statistics, the open rate of welcome emails is 82% on average, meaning you have plenty of leads to visit your website. Plus, personalized emails have a six times higher transaction rate

FTP Access

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, which helps transfer your website files to the web hosting server from your computer. It enables you to upload files, including multimedia ones, to the server of your hosting provider. 

FTP access is necessary to conveniently upload and download images and videos from and to your website. Ensure that your hosting plan includes this feature. 

SSL Certificate

If you plan to sell through your website, you have to make sure that the transactions are secure for your customers. That’s why you need an SSL certificate to encrypt data, but that’s offered by almost all web hosting providers. 

Without an SSL certificate, your website will be marked as “not secure” by Google, and the payment gateways might prevent you from utilizing their services to make transactions. So your customers would need to visit another website for the payment.

Ensure the website hosting you’re considering offers an SSL certificate, particularly if you plan to sell goods online.

Backups

Backups are a crucial element in any disaster recovery operation, and it’s vital to have scheduled backups to protect your data and files. Your web hosting provider should also ensure that they’re remotely stored in a different server than the one hosting your website. 

Without backing up your data, you can experience drastic losses, including all customer information and website content. It can result in your page going offline and you losing business opportunities and revenue. 

If you don’t have a backup and lose your data, you’ll have to rebuild your website from scratch. So if the hosting provider doesn’t offer this feature, it’s too risky to purchase that plan. 

Customer Support

A good hosting service offers technical support round the clock. If you get stuck or have an issue, you’d want to get immediate help to resolve it. So when selecting a hosting plan, ensure that it includes 24/7 customer support through telephone or chat.

computer attached to servers

Hosting and Domain Costs

What is a website hosting fee, and how much would a domain name cost you? The hosting price can depend on multiple factors like your website needs and the features you want. 

Here’s what else plays a role in host pricing:

  • Technical support
  • Emails
  • Scripting languages
  • Traffic volume
  • SSL encryption
  • Database support
  • File space
  • Operating system
  • Type of hosting

Shared hosting is the cheapest option available, ranging from $3 to $15 per month. In contrast, dedicated hosting is the most expensive — between $80–$730 per month. 

When buying a domain name, the cost also depends on where you’re purchasing it from. Many web hosting providers offer the domain name free of charge for the first year. Typically, the price ranges between $9 and $15 per year. Again, the cost can vary depending on the domain registrar or the extension you select. 

Conclusion

Now that we have web hosting explained, you know it’s a service you need to create a website and enhance your online presence. With everyone going digital worldwide, it’s unwise for any business to stay behind without a website. 

So what is website hosting? It’s a service that helps you have a professional website to reach your target audience. It’s best to learn how hosting a website works before you continue building your own platform.

About the author

Avatar for Terry Stancheva

Terry Stancheva

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