Web Hosting 101: The Fundamental Guide

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Stepping into the world of web hosting but with a mind full of questions? Worry not, for this blog is a concoction of just the right amounts of knowledge you would need to understand the fundamentals of web hosting and how things run behind the scene.

Let’s begin with the definition of web hosting.

In a nutshell, web hosting is the practice or business of providing storage space for websites thereby making them available to be viewed by internet users.

You store all the files and data required to run and operate the website in a web hosting server. Generally, from a business perspective, web hosting may also refer to the company which provides the hosting service – storing your website, providing internet connectivity, database etc.

So basically it’s a data center then?

No it isn’t. The hosting part is handled by a server of the hosting company. You are leasing a space in that server for your website. In some cases, you can have the whole server for your website alone. We’ll get into that later. So this server essentially holds important data of your website.

So doesn’t that mean the server should be protected?

Why, yes of course… which brings us to the answer to the first question – Data center. The server is housed at a secure facility to protect it from unauthorized accesses and other threats. This facility is what we call the data center.
 

Types of Web Hosting

 
Now that you have an idea what web hosting is, it’s time to introduce you to the various types of web hosting.

In general, there are 4 types.

  • Shared hosting
  • Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting
  • Dedicated hosting
  • Cloud hosting

Basically, all four serves the same purpose of storing websites but differs in the features. Each of the four will differ in the amount of control of the user over the website, the storage space for the website, the bandwidth, server performance and even reliability of the service.

Let’s get into the details.
 

Shared Hosting

 
Shared hosting is where your website is one of many websites hosted by a single server. It’s more like a building where tenants lease apartments. There’ll be many tenants in the building with their own space to live. Similarly, your website will have its own space in the server. The catch is that your website will have to share the server resources with the other websites.

It’s an entry level hosting solution, the least expensive of the four, and the ideal choice for small websites with a limited amount of traffic. The cons include the ‘bad neighbor effect’. This is when other websites in the server utilizes a lot of the server’s resources leaving your website with only a little to work with. This affects the website’s performance. You also don’t have access to the server. A shared environment generally won’t be able to handle higher traffic.
 

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

 
Virtual Private Server or VPS essentially means a virtual server which will be hosting a website. You are probably wondering how a virtual server can do this, because it’s well… a ‘virtual’ server.

Because, this virtual server is part of a physical server. So your website is technically hosted on that physical server but in a virtual partition. That virtual partition is what we generally refer to as virtual server, because it does resemble a dedicated server.

The hosting environment is secure, and you can also use your own copy of an operating system of your choice. The VPS also gives you a super user level access to this instance so that you can add and use programs that are compatible with that OS. This is an ideal option for those users who cannot invest in a dedicated server or have a mid-scale website with only a moderate amount of traffic.

The ability of VPS systems to handle traffic spikes can be limited. But you can upgrade the hosting package to acquire more features for your growing website. It costs a bit more than shared hosting, and considerably less than dedicated hosting.
 

Dedicated Server Hosting

 
Like its name suggested, dedicated server hosting service is when a full hosting solution completely dedicated to your website. Your site will be hosted on what we refer to as the dedicated server, and there will only be your website in the server. This means all of the server’s resources are at your website’s beck and call. You get more control over the server compared to the other types of hosting. Most dedicated hosting packages come with premium technical support and server performance.

However, this should make something else quite obvious. It affects your wallet. Dedicated hosting is the most expensive option out of the four types as it offers the best server performance, technical support and control. The price is of course justifiable. But this level of service is ideal only for big websites with a large amount of traffic.
 

Cloud Hosting

 
When it comes to high traffic and frequent traffic spikes, no other hosting is as good as cloud hosting. You’d have realized from its name that it is a cloud computing technology; and at its best. It’s also referred to as cluster server hosting or server-on-demand hosting.

It’s where multiple computers connected as a network (called a cloud) collaborates in operations, data transfer and storage thereby acting as a single super computer. So essentially, your website is hosted on multiple machines in the cloud. Now you know why spiking traffic isn’t an issue in cloud hosting.

Apart from its ability to handle high traffic, cloud hosting also isn’t confined to a single data center. The web hosting features like FTP, email services etc. are taken care of by different servers in the cloud. The point is, even if one server fails, your website will not be affected at all, as another server will take over. Another advantage is that the hosting solution is pay-per-use, meaning you will be charged only for what you use.

A dynamic, scalable, and robust solution cloud hosting is getting more popular each year with more users starting to realize the cloud’s potential. Add and remove resources on the go without compromising control and flexibility. The only con is that the reliability of a cloud solution depends on the solution provider. Some solutions may not give root access to change server settings despite having a high price tag.

That takes care of the hosting types. Now to address the most common confusion about web hosting.

Domain name and web hosting are sometimes confused to be the same

They aren’t.

Basically, a domain is the name of your website while a web host is the home of your website. The domain is more like the address to this home and not the home itself. Web host is the space where your website resides (in a server of course). Now that you understood the difference between domain name and web hosting, let’s explore a bit more about domain.

These are 3 fundamental things you should know about domain names:

  • The name should be unique and relevant, and should relate to what your website does or have in it. (For example, if it’s a blog site, bloggersdeck.com is a good domain name)
  • Purchase and register this domain
  • Point the domain to your web hosting solution by changing the DNS

To know more about the significance of domains in the digital realm, point and tap here – domain registration
 

Conclusion

 
This is just a 101 guide to give you just the right amount of knowledge you need to find the right hosting for your website, or to give the hosting business a shot. Feel free to go through this one to know how to nail an ideal web hosting service. It’s sure to come in handy.

Written by Shibu Kumar

Shibu's expertise in Digital Technologies and his business forward approach has helped Verbat's customers derive significant results on Digital channels over the years. He is currently responsible for Global Marketing, Sales Support and Alliances. Shibu’s strong technology background coupled with his passion for B2B marketing places him in a great position to execute strategies in building brand awareness and market share for Verbat.

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