What is web hosting and how does it work? These are the common questions many business owners ask if they are launching their websites. Web hosting is an important element that you should choose carefully as they will keep your website running and you want to make sure they will do it properly. To help you understand this element, let us explain what web hosting is, how it works, its different types, and what it costs.
What Is a Web Hosting Service?
A web hosting company runs and maintains the physical servers for all live websites. It is where all the files like images and videos of websites are stored.
Hosting providers own data centres packed with powerful web servers to host multiple websites. These servers provide the mechanism to make a website’s files accessible to visitors and the space needed to store these files.
Website visitors may know little about web hosting, but website owners should understand its importance in running a site and how it works.
How Does a Web Hosting Service Work?
There are at least four major functions of web hosting: security, uptime, hardware, and file storage. Let us discuss each to help you understand them better.
Data breaches and website hacking are major threats of a website. To prevent these illegal activities from happening, a web hosting service comes into play as they provide a strong security system to protect your website.
They enable access restriction to your website where there are only a few attempts allowed and when the maximum attempt is reached, the security system blocks the access for a certain time. The hosting provider can also provide firewall encryption where sensitive data in the website is kept private and secure.
Your website’s downtime is a major loss to your revenue, and a hosting provider understands this. A good hosting service assures you that they can give your website at least 99% uptime, especially when they perform updates for your site and fix site issues.
Uptime is the time where your website files are available for visitors to access. If you are experiencing extremely less downtime, you can feel safe and at ease knowing that your hosting provider keeps their promise.
Have you wondered what the physical side of the Internet looks like? Imagine this, it is like data centres loaded with thousands of physical web servers.
Web hosting companies invest in hardware that houses these physical servers. They store them in temperature-controlled rooms and hire technicians to keep them consistently working.
Keeping these physical servers in good condition allows hosting providers to give a satisfactory service to websites, giving site visitors a good experience.
4. File Storage
File storage is a known major function for web hosting. It keeps all files for a website secure and available to visitors.
A basic website even needs web hosting to store their files, text, and images with simple designs on the Internet.
Other Functions of Web Hosting
On top of the major functions of web hosting, many hosting providers offer various additional features to improve the performance of websites. You can check the following features in a hosting plan to see if you need them:
- Automatic backups – This is to prevent losing your website files as your site grows and evolves.
- Spam filters – These prevent unwanted and unsolicited emails from going to clients’ inboxes.
- Unlimited email hosting – This feature allows you to make professional email addresses for your team and yourself.
- Shopping cart tools – If you are building or running an e-commerce store, it is important to get a hosting plan that caters to the selling and buying transactions of your online store.
- Written guides and video tutorials – It is always helpful to have manuals and video tutorials from your hosting provider about how their tools work to help your website. This is to answer your questions in times you need help about the hosting service you paid for.
- Website builder – This consists of tools that let you build a website without the need for manual coding. It would be best to have templates as well, so you can make a professional-looking website easily.
- 24/7 live support – Website issues can occur anytime, so it would be helpful if your hosting provider can assist you when you need help.
- Domain registration – This is important to keep your web hosting accounts and domain in the same place.
What Are the Types of Web Hosting?
Web hosting can differ on how you want the service to cater to your needs. Understanding web hosting types will help you further in choosing the right provider.
1. Dedicated Hosting
This type gives you the benefit of owning an entire web server for your website. This means you have a lot of storage space and power to host your site because you do not share the server with anyone else.
Although dedicated hosting is pricey, this is ideal for larger websites that have a lot of traffic.
2. E-Commerce Hosting
E-commerce hosting is best for online stores where there are buying and selling transactions done. It supports the software and features used for online stores.
It also provides security that is compatible with the features of e-commerce stores.
3. VPS Hosting
Virtual private server (VPS) hosting allows sharing of a server with other websites. It uses virtualization technology that provides each website with dedicated resources in a single server.
This means that whatever issues a website is experiencing in a server, the remaining websites in that same server will not be affected. It costs more than shared hosting but less than dedicated hosting.
This is ideal for medium-level businesses that want more stability and security.
4. Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting can be a good upgrade option from shared hosting. It lets faster page loading and provides more flexibility even with larger websites.
It also allows your website to use multiple servers to balance load and keep uptime.
5. Shared Hosting
This is the cheapest among the hosting types because it lets a single server host multiple websites. A server also shares its resources among the websites it hosts.
This means there is limited storage space for your website. Shared hosting is ideal for new websites, small businesses, and personal websites.
Do You Need to Pay to Host Your Website?
If you want a secure and stable website, then yes. You can use free hosting, but website security risk and instability are high.
Free hosting may shut down your website when something happens beyond your control that takes your site offline for a long period, visitors complain about your website, and you encounter difficulties with the online rules. It also limits your bandwidth, which can make you miss sales on your products and services.
Investing in paid hosting services prevents these from happening and gives you peace of mind.
How Much Does It Cost for Web Hosting?
The cost for this varies on the plan, hosting company, and the added features you want to include in your package. If shared hosting can meet your needs, then you can have prices that start at less than 3 GBP a month.
For other types of hosting, the cheapest you can get is around 4 GBP per month. This can cost more if you decide to add more features on top of your basic plan.
Web hosting does not need to be expensive if you know the right package and added features that can benefit your website.
What Does Bandwidth Mean in Web Hosting?
Bandwidth in hosting websites is the amount of data a site can transfer to users in a specific time. It is measured and sold per gigabyte, but some hosting services offer unlimited bandwidth.
To visualize it simply, you can think of the bandwidth as a pipe’s diameter. The larger the diameter of the pipe, the more water it can deliver. In the same way, the larger bandwidth allowance you have, the more data you can transfer to users.
Bandwidth in web hosting is crucial because it identifies how fast your website can deliver data to your visitors during the times of peak traffic. It is an important element to increase your market and convert them.
The amount of bandwidth your website needs varies on the number of pages a site visitor looks, the number of site traffic, and the size and number of your pages.
Learning what web hosting is and how it is important in running your website provides you with a better understanding of how careful you should choose your service provider and your hosting package. You might not get the right hosting provider and plan at first, but you can always transfer to another company and switch to a better plan.
Despite the many options on the market, it is still important to understand the major functions of web hosting, its added features, and the types of web hosting to make the most of your website. So, think about which type of hosting you want to have and the inclusions of your hosting plan to start building your website and increasing traffic!