What is web hosting? – Feature Article

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Web hosting can be described as the provision of space on the internet where websites can be run from.  Web hosting is necessary in order for other people to see your website.  If your website is not hosted, it is no better than a simple program installed on your home PC (and you don’t have an internet connection).

Web hosting services work by saving your website files on high-speed computers all connected to a very fast network (the internet).  Anyone wanting to visit your website then connects to the internet and the internet links the user to your website stored on the server(s) (the host).

When looking at hosting services, a few concepts are of utmost importance:

  1. How much disk space is the hosting company offering you?

Disk space is important since this is where your website files are stored. Consequently, websites with images, videos etc. need much more disk space than a simple text website.

  1. What is the bandwidth available?

How fast can files be transferred from the host to the user? This is a really important question.  If a user has to wait to long for something to load and as soon as this load time starts taking too long, your users are leaving your website because it appears as though links are broken.

  1. What domain names are available for you to choose?

The domain name is essentially the address of your website on the internet.  It is used to find and identify your website.

Web Hosting can be done in a number of different ways.  Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few to keep in mind:

Shared Web Hosting

Shared Web Hosting is by far the most common type of hosting available today. Essentially, you share all server resources with other people and their websites.  More than one website is loaded onto a server and your website is affected by others.

Dedicated Hosting

This is the most exclusive type of hosting.  You get a dedicated server just allocated to your website so no interference whatsoever from other websites. This is also the most expensive, safest and most flexible hosting option.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting could be seen as a combination between shared and dedicated web hosting.  All your website files are stored on a team of servers together with other websites but special technology allocated a dedicated partition to your websites that has the characteristics of a dedicated server but limited similar abilities. Fewer websites occupy the same space, effectively making more real estate available for your own website. Usage spikes do not affect your website at all.

VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting

Virtual Private Server hosting consists of more than one website being hosted on a server.  A special partition is also allocated to your website but, because of the limited space, your website might be affected by usage spikes to your, or other, websites on the server.

So, now, you may ask what the difference is between a server and a data center?

Servers are the computers and hardware that your website is stored on.  A data center is the facility where there computers and hardware are located.  It could be a place as small as a room in a house, or it could be a huge building with hundreds of computers linked together (essentially a supercomputer).

Clearly, choosing the right type of hosting all depends on your individual needs.  What your website is designed to do also makes a difference as different hosting options have varying security needs. Now that you have a basic idea of what it is all about, you will know a little more of what to look for and ask when choosing.

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