This article was written by Sander Riya
As you know, a website lives on the internet, but those who are new to website publishing may not understand exactly how this works. In order for people to find your website on the World Wide Web, it must reside on a special type of computer that is provided by a web hosting company.
Whether you’re publishing a business website or just a personal blog, it’s important to find a web host that fits your needs. If you’re an internet beginner, this brief guide should give you a basic understanding of the subject.
What is web hosting and how does it work?
One way to think of a website is to imagine it as a house where people can come and visit, except it’s in the virtual world of the internet. A web hosting company is like the town where you build your house.
Unfortunately, you can’t host a web page on your personal computer. Your computer is like a car that lets you visit places all over the internet, but it can’t function like a house. Only a special type of computer called a “web server” can do that.
Could you have your own web server? Sure, but it’s awfully expensive to set that up just to host one website. That’s why just about everyone uses a web hosting service to publish their site. Also, web hosts have very powerful computers, ultra-fast internet connections, and a team of technicians that make sure your site is secure and always up.
What does a website host do?
The main function of a web host is to provide the web server that houses all the files on your website. They also provide many other services, including a dashboard interface that allows you to manage files and make changes to your website.
However, just having a web server to house your files isn’t enough. You also need an address that allows people to find the site. The address contains the name of your website, which is called a domain name. The host usually provides a search feature for you to find a unique domain name. If you don’t want to buy your own domain name, the host will usually let you create a subdomain that is tacked onto the domain of the hosting company.
Hosts also provide a variety of other services, depending on what kind of functionality your website needs. If you don’t want to code your website by hand (and most people don’t anymore) the host will provide easy solutions, such as Joomla or WordPress. These are robust applications that allow you to build a website with drag and drop elements.
Web hosts also provide a database to store information about subscribers or customers. If you’re selling products from the website, the host usually provides a shopping cart solution to support payments.
Different types of web hosting
When publishing a website, it’s important to pick the right web hosting that suits you. Web hosting comes in many flavors, depending on how complex your site is and how much traffic you expect to have. The major hosting companies will usually offer the following options:
This is the most common and most basic level of hosting. Shared hosting means that your site is sharing a machine with other websites. This is suitable for new sites with low to moderate traffic. Once a site starts to have higher volume or needs to serve more demanding content, it will be time to upgrade to more powerful hosting.
People often think of the cloud as some nebulous, mysterious realm in cyberspace. The truth is actually much more down-to-earth. A cloud service merely means that your files are spread out over different machines in a data center. This is an upgrade to shared hosting because if one machine is bogged down, your site will be on other machines that can pick up the extra load.
When your site is doing high volume and needs rock solid performance, it will need to have its own dedicated server machine. This is usually only for the biggest e-commerce or video streaming websites that bring in thousands of visitors per day.
Virtual Private Server
This type of hosting is an upgrade of shared hosting. You don’t have your own machine, but you get a piece of a server that doesn’t share resources with any other website. You also get your own dedicated IP address, which offers higher security.
Can you get free web hosting?
There are companies that offer free hosting, but you usually get a subdomain instead of your own domain, and page loading speed is usually poor. Also, your site will go down occasionally to save on bandwidth. Free hosting is usually offered as a test platform that enables you to see what your website looks like before you’re ready to get paid hosting.
A good web hosting company should help you choose the best hosting features at a price that’s right for you. Most people start with basic shared hosting, then upgrade later when their site becomes more popular. There are many options and features to consider when choosing a web hosting package, but the ideas covered in this guide should start you off on the right foot.
Riya is an inspired writer, passionate about traveling, lifestyle and encouraging startups. She understands the importance of productivity at work and never stopped finding new ways to create her work productivity. Connect with Riya on twitter, @sanderriya.