Most of you may not know this (especially when you’re not tech-savvy), but web hosting, although invisible, is an essential element of the online experience. It makes sense that everything is digital during this age when the pandemic is still looming over our heads.
Having an online presence comes with its share of benefits. However, to enjoy such benefits, you must engage a web host, as you need a suitable web hosting solution to publish your website online.
Web Hosting Explained for Beginners
Web Hosting in a Nutshell
Web hosting is typically a service provided by a web host with the necessary technologies and infrastructure to access your website on the Internet. Just like storing all your necessities at home and accessing them anytime you want, you can think of web hosting along the same line.
Instead of storing your household goods, you’re now storing all the files (code, media, etc.) needed to get your site up and running on physical servers. Your web host rents out the space on this webserver to facilitate this so visitors can view its content online.
Once your blog is successfully published on the internet, users type your website address via the browser. The browser will then initiate a connection to the server, and your web pages will be presented to the user. You must have your domain name to host your site. This is your website address, much like your home address.
Why Do You Need Web Hosting?
If you want a digital presence, you require web hosting. Engaging a trusted and reliable web host could ensure you get better support and tighter security. As such, as a business owner, you get a more peaceful and hassle-free experience to focus your time and effort better on your business, which you should have in the first place.
Basic Web Hosting Terms You Need to Know
When you start venturing into web hosting, you’ll encounter tons of jargon that may render you lost. As such, it would be good for you to understand some of the basic terms:
- Servers – high-spec computers to store your files for the website.
- Domain – your website address where users can identify your site and how to access it via browsers.
- Top-Level Domains (TLD) – the end of your domain (popularly used is .com)
- Subdomain – equates to the many mini websites under the same domain name (faq.house.com where faq is the subdomain)
- Content Management System (CMS) – the software that helps you create and manage your website and content.
- Bandwidth – how much data can be sent and received from your server.
- Web Hosting Plans – Different types of web hosting services that you can choose from to meet the needs of varying website types.
- Website Builder – Typically a service or tool providing a graphical means of constructing websites quickly and easily.
- Web Hosting Control Panel (WHCP) – a tool that helps you efficiently manage your web hosting plan.
Types of Web Hosting Plans & How They Work
Web hosting providers like HostPapa usually offer a varied range of hosting plans. Generally speaking, the cheaper ones come with more simplified features, and the pricier plans provide a wide range of more advanced features.
The division of server resources allocated on a server to your website highly depends on your hosting type.
This division is akin to deciding the office space for you. Do you only need a simple workstation that shares the same space as others? Or do you need considerable office space within a building? Or do you foresee a quick expansion and thus want to rent the whole building for your business?
To make a well-informed decision, you’ll have to understand the various types of web hosting available:
Shared hosting is perhaps the most popular option since it is cheap and easily affordable. This is because all resources on a server are shared among the multiple websites residing on the same server. There are limits placed on each website in terms of disk space, data transfer, etc.
This is akin to renting a solo workstation in a noisy, open co-working space. You have what you need to conduct your tasks, but you share the space with others, including the common areas, meeting rooms, and printer.
So, if more and more workstations are crammed into the same space, you can imagine the frustration you’ll feel, especially when trying to book meeting rooms or access the printer.
Also, security could be of concern since everyone shares almost everything, and you don’t have absolute control over them. Shared hosting is best suited for smaller websites and smaller portfolios (personal blogs) with lesser security needs and not for substantial commercial businesses that require intensive resources and high security.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
A common alternative to shared hosting is VPS hosting, similar to shared hosting, except it is a step up. You’ll still be sharing with others using the same server, except that now, you run your virtual server with fixed allocated resources.
The virtual servers are created by partitions typically configured in the servers. As a result, you are more ‘isolated’ from your neighbors and comparatively less dependent on them.
So, instead of cramming more people into your shared office area (like in shared hosting), each person now gets their own ‘box’ of an area with their assets to use. VPS hosting is a more secure, reliable, and better hosting option for those who are looking to scale up soon or run a medium-sized business.
Considered the mammoth of web hosting, dedicated hosting is when you get a whole server with all its resources solely for yourself. As such, you have absolute control over the entire server and can configure it anyhow you see fit. As the name suggests, the server is dedicated to you only.
This is akin to you renting a whole building for your business. Dedicated hosting is the most expensive option; this guarantees you more control, higher security, more outstanding, and more reliable performance, as all the resources are at your disposal.
This type of hosting is excellent for huge businesses that consistently expect very high volumes of web traffic. For example, Redswitches.
Cloud hosting is trending. Several machines are connected in cloud hosting, creating more powerful virtual servers. Applications can be run via these multiple servers working together, using combined resources.
If you run your website on a cloud of servers, you’ll get higher reliability, even 100% uptime. This increased reliability is because other servers will kick in to ensure that your website still functions if one server goes down.
The advantage of cloud hosting is that it is highly scalable; you upscale or downscale anytime you want, and you only pay for what you need and use.
Generally speaking, cloud hosting plans offer a considerable amount of resources for multiple domains. This explains the reason why large websites that are resource-intensive would consider this.
Most web hosts would offer managed hosting in their hosting plans. You can find anything from managed WordPress hosting to managed cloud hosting. As such, you can engage your web hosting provider’s technical services to help manage your hosting. It would make sense to do so since they have the relevant expertise to do this.
From hardware, software setup and configuration, maintenance, technical support, patching, and updating to monitoring, managed hosting takes care of all these, so you have more time to focus on your more pressing business matters. In short, your web host takes care of all day-to-day management of everything related to hosting.
Instead of renting space on a server or the server to host your site, you’re renting the physical space (racks) to store your server. The server is yours, and you’re renting a space in a colocation center along with the power, bandwidth, cooling systems, etc., your server needs.
You are expected to manage everything on your website, both hardware and software included. As such, colocation hosting is cheaper unless you opt for managed hosting.
Reseller hosting is when a web host allows a business to sell web hosting services as its own. When you take up a reseller plan with a web host, you’ll set up a reseller account where you can include your branding.
Usually, you’ll have access to wholesale prices. As such, you get to mark up your pricing and set the packages accordingly within the web host’s conditions.
The great thing about reseller hosting is that you don’t need to concern yourself with hardware and software maintenance and updates. All you need to do is create the account for any new client; you’re the ‘reseller’ as the original web hosting account owner.
This is akin to you being a building owner and renting out spaces to the tenants. Simply put, reseller hosting is where you host a website on behalf of others while earning a profit.
Which Type of Hosting Should You Choose?
This is the golden question. Shared hosting is generally sufficient for many, especially personal bloggers or small businesses that don’t need heavy resources.
However, if you’re operating an eCommerce store or a medium-sized website that requires more resources, you’ll most likely need more. This is where VPS hosting would come in. And for those who consistently expect a considerable amount of traffic, you may need to opt for the cloud or even a dedicated hosting option.
Whatever it is, you have to go for a trusted and reliable web hosting provider. Feel free to discuss this with them; they’ll be able to recommend the most suitable plan for you based on your requirements.
Getting an online presence may seem to be a complex process and much hinges on the type of web hosting you end up with and the technology used by the web host. However, in reality, web hosting is not rocket science, and your web host will be able to offer any help you need.
You should now have a better understanding of the basics of web hosting, and as such, you should feel empowered to start hunting for the perfect web hosting to meet your needs. Remember, each plan comes with its share of perks, and although there are many different plans available, it all comes down to whether the plan fits your needs at that time.