If you’re thinking about advertising your business on the Internet or establishing your online presence, you have probably come across the term web hosting. In today’s article, we will do our best to answer the question “What is web hosting?” and explain why you need it and how you can benefit from it.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is an online service that allows you to launch your website on the internet. A web hosting service lets you rent some space on a physical server to store all the files and data your website needs to work correctly. A server is a physical computer that runs without interruption, ensuring your website is available all the time, and anyone can access it from anywhere in the world.
How Does Web Hosting Work?
Once you decide to start a new website, you need to find a hosting provider to deliver the server space you need. When you sign up for a web hosting service, your web host becomes responsible for running and maintaining the server on which your website will be hosted.
They are the ones that need to make sure your content is successfully transferred from the server to the website while placing safeguards to protect your website data from any potential malware attacks. When someone types your domain name into their browser, the web host is the one that transfers all the files needed to fulfill their request.
This is why it is crucial to find a reliable provider and choose a hosting plan that fits your needs.
Types of Web Hosting
Now that you know what web hosting is, we will continue by going through the various hosting types and briefly explaining their differences to help you find the best one for you. Most web hosts offer multiple hosting options that serve different client needs.
Whether you own a major company or just wish to start a simple blog site, you’ll need help from web hosting services, so let’s see what your options are.
Choosing the hosting type depends on several factors, including the type of site you intend to launch, your budget, and your level of technical knowledge. Here are some of the most popular options:
- Shared hosting
- VPS hosting
- Cloud hosting
- Dedicated hosting
- WordPress hosting
Now let’s go through some web hosting examples and check out all of the options in more detail.
1. Shared Hosting
This type of hosting includes one server and multiple clients, and it is a popular option for starter websites such as personal blogs and sites built for startups and small businesses. As you share the server with other clients, this option is very cost-effective and simple to use.
One shared server can host hundreds of websites. These clients would share the same main directory; however, they wouldn’t see each other’s files as they do not have root access to the server.
Apart from the main directory, these websites also share the available disk space, RAM, and central processing unit (CPU) power of the server.
So, what is shared web hosting good for, and who will get the most from it? Primarily people who don’t need a lot of bandwidth for their sites and do not mind the risk of potential security/privacy issues that stem from sharing a server with other websites. Let’s summarize the pros and cons of using shared hosting:
Pros of Shared Hosting:
As multiple clients end up using one server, the server maintenance fees are split between them. Therefore, most shared hosting plans have relatively low costs.
- Minimal maintenance
There’s no need to worry about technical details as the web host takes care of basic server maintenance and monitors all the activity on the server.
- Dynamic website support
A shared web server supports programming languages such as PHP and Python, which are used on dynamic websites. These include social media platforms and eCommerce stores.
Although we said that this is probably the best web hosting for small business owners, it does have a few downsides you should know about.
Cons of Shared Hosting:
- Unstable performance
Traffic surges on other websites that use the same server can affect your site’s performance, slowing it down or making it unresponsive.
- Security problems
Websites that use this type of web hosting share resources. This means that if a hacker takes down the host server, all of its websites will be affected.
2. VPS hosting
VPS or virtual private server hosting is a type of hosting in which a single server hosts several clients but provides private resources for each client. To have this type of web hosting easily explained, just think of it like this: clients share a server but get their own resource allocations in terms of bandwidth, RAM, and CPU power.
There are two types of VPS hosting – unmanaged and managed.
Unmanaged VPS hosting is a good option for web developers and people with technical skills as it requires users to run and maintain the server themselves. The user is the one that needs to look for the security threats, monitor the activities, and install and update the software.
If you don’t have much technical knowledge, managed VPS hosting is an excellent option. For a better understanding of this web hosting type, you should know that the web host will take care of the virtual server, maintain it and keep it running for you. You only need to decide which VPS hosting service is best for you and let the server admin take it from there.
Managed VPS hosting plans usually cost higher than unmanaged ones, as they include server maintenance.
Regardless of the VPS hosting type you choose, this service is a more reliable option than shared web hosting. Your website’s performance cannot be affected by the activities of others on the same server, as each account uses its own pre-allocated server resources and storage.
So, what is the best web hosting service for your company? If it’s a startup or a very small business, go for shared hosting. If it’s larger than that, we would suggest VPS hosting as a solid option.
To sum up, here’s why you should consider using this type of hosting:
Pros of VPS Hosting:
- Root access
With VPS hosting, all the users have access to the root environment. They can install any software they need and modify the server in a way that suits them.
Since each account has its own server space, the risk of your site being attacked by hackers is minimal. With VPS hosting, website owners have more control and can implement additional security layers on their sites.
- Scalability and high customizability
VPS web hosting plans are easy to scale, and you can do so without affecting the server functions.
Although there are many benefits of web hosting through a VPS, there are also some disadvantages to consider.
Cons of VPS Hosting:
- Technical knowledge required
VPS hosting is more complex than shared hosting, and it requires technical and server management knowledge.
This type of hosting is usually more expensive than the other hosting options, especially when compared to shared hosting. You get what you pay for, though, with better bandwidth and greater website security.
3. Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting is one of the most reliable solutions you can find on the market these days. In the following part of this article, we will answer the question, “What is cloud-based web hosting?” and explain how this popular form of web hosting works.
This type of hosting gives you the option of distributing web files across several virtual servers. Your web host provides you with a cluster of servers on which all your files and resources will be replicated and stored. Cloud hosting employs the computing power of numerous machines. This gives the user more processing power than they would have while using traditional hosting based on using a single server.
Many cloud web hosting services implement simple server management that allows users to easily monitor the disk usage activity, CPU utilization, and data transfers.
Now that we understand some basics of web hosting through a cloud infrastructure, let’s outline the pros and cons of this method.
Pros of Cloud Hosting:
- No downtime
When one of the cloud servers is busy, down, or has some other internal issue, the traffic will be rerouted to another server within the cloud cluster. This means that with cloud hosting, you can expect very little to no downtime for your website.
- Server failures don’t affect your site
Since cloud hosting utilizes multiple servers, you don’t have to worry about any possible hardware failure on a server that’s currently hosting your website. If one physical server in the cloud stops working, another will automatically take its role.
Cloud hosting is far more scalable than the other types of hosting since it isn’t limited by physical hardware as much.
So, what is the most reliable web hosting service you can choose? Cloud hosting is certainly a strong candidate, along with dedicated hosting that we’ll be covering next. For now, let’s briefly mention the potential downsides of using cloud hosting services.
Cons of Cloud Hosting:
- Costs may be hard to estimate
Some web hosting companies form prices based on the resources clients end up using. Although this can be useful sometimes, it usually makes it harder for the client to estimate the actual costs and can lead to unexpectedly high bills at the end of the month.
- No root access
Cloud web hosts do not always provide root access to their customers.
4. Dedicated Hosting
The next part of our guide will be about dedicated hosting. So what is dedicated web hosting, and who is it for?
Dedicated web hosting is a type of web hosting in which a client has a personal server dedicated solely to the needs of their website. This dedicated server gives the clients flexibility, allowing them to manage their website(s) as they wish. Dedicated hosting gives them an option to choose the operating system they want to use, configure the server as they like, and set up the whole hosting environment based on their business needs.
Having a dedicated server is similar to having your own on-site server, but even better for inexperienced web administrators, as it offers technical support from network experts.
So, what is the best web hosting service for a large company that runs several websites or has one bandwidth-intensive one? You’ve guessed it – dedicated hosting. There are many good dedicated hosting options to choose from, and some of them even offer free plans you can try out.
To break it down, here’s what you will get with a dedicated hosting plan.
Pros of Dedicated Hosting:
With a dedicated server, you will have the ultimate flexibility. As you have complete control over server configuration, you can adjust it to suit your needs.
- High reliability and security
A dedicated server gives you the option to decide how to install and configure firewalls and which SSL certificates you’ll use on your website.
- Root server access
This is crucial if you want to change advanced server settings.
With all the information we’ve given you thus far, it should be much easier to define web hosting and understand the difference between its various types. As with other kinds of web hosting, cloud services have their own drawbacks, so let’s take a quick look at them below.
Cons of Dedicated Hosting:
- High cost
Since it targets larger businesses and offers separate servers for each customer, dedicated hosting usually comes at a higher price than the other types of hosting.
- Technical knowledge requirement
Although you may be able to get some help from your hosting provider, dedicated hosting typically requires a high level of technical and server management knowledge.
WordPress hosting is a form of shared hosting designed for WordPress site owners. According to some statistics, WordPress powers more than a quarter of all websites on the internet. That means that there are potentially hundreds of millions of WordPress sites out there, and undoubtedly tens of millions of live ones at any one time.
So, what is WordPress hosting like in practice?
Quite simple, really. The key difference to standard shared hosting is that you get a site with pre-installed plugins and a server configured specifically for WordPress. The highly optimized configuration helps your website load faster than the typical shared hosting sites.
Now let’s break down all the pros and cons of WordPress hosting.
Pros of WP Hosting:
- Improved performance and website speed
Since the server is optimized for WordPress, you can expect improved performance.
- One-click WordPress installation
WordPress hosting solutions usually provide very simple ways to set up your WordPress site, and the process of installing and setting up WordPress takes only a couple of mouse clicks.
- Specialized customer support
By getting WordPress hosting, you will also have access to customer support agents trained in solving WordPress-specific issues.
So, what is the best web hosting for WordPress, then? That can be somewhat subjective, but a good rule of thumb is paying attention to these three factors: speed, uptime, and customer support. Finally, let’s not forget that while this type of hosting can be very useful for many websites, it’s not ideal for everyone. Let’s take a quick look at its main drawbacks.
Cons of WP Hosting:
- Email hosting woes
Many WordPress hosting solutions won’t deal with email hosting, or if they do, they will charge you extra.
- High cost
While typically not as expensive as dedicated hosting services, WordPress hosting solutions will generally cost a fair bit more than their shared hosting counterparts.
- Limited scope
While WordPress is almost omnipresent on the market, plenty of websites do not use it. Obviously, they will have nothing to gain from picking a WordPress hosting solution.
If you wish to launch your own website and do it properly, you should consider getting a web hosting service. Since there are multiple types of web hosting, you ought to read our guide carefully and think about what option works best for your website.
Once your website takes off, you will be able to reach millions of users all across the world. We don’t want to be dramatic, but, realistically, choosing the right hosting provider can mean the difference between success and failure for your business, so choose well!
1. Can I host my own website?
You can host your own website, and this decision comes with lots of benefits. When hosting the site yourself, you will have complete transparency, absolute control, and no restrictions on uploads. It can, however, be costly, and you need to have technical knowledge about running websites when you inevitably run into some issues.
2. What is web hosting, and why do I need it?
Web hosting is a service that helps you get your website online and makes it accessible to users worldwide. Web hosts are the ones that configure, maintain, and run physical servers that house websites on the internet.
3. How much does web hosting cost?
The price for a web hosting service depends on the hosting type that it provides. Shared hosting is the cheapest option, and you can get it for as low as $3 a month, while dedicated hosting is the most expensive option, with prices that can go up to hundreds of dollars per month.
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