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What is web hosting & how does it work? Alex's Guide Explains

Updated on March 8, 2024 – Written By: Shant Alexanian

Web hosting is an online service that makes your website accessible on the internet. When you purchase a hosting plan, you are essentially leasing space on a physical server to house all the files and data of your website.

Web hosts provide the technology and resources needed for your website to operate effectively and securely. Their responsibilities encompass maintaining server uptime, implementing robust hosting security measures, and facilitating seamless data transfer of texts, photos, and other files to visitors’ browsers.

This article will give you a complete understanding of web hosting – what it is, how it works, and the different types of hosting options available.

Table of Contents

What is web hosting?

Web hosting is a service offered by companies to make your website visible and accessible online. Instead of hosting your website on your own network server, you can rent space from a provider. This guarantees optimal speed, reliability, and security for your website.

How does web hosting work?

Think of web hosting as a virtual storage space where all your website files find their home. A web host offers server space to accommodate your website’s code, images, and files. These servers connect to the internet, enabling visitors to access your website simply by entering your domain name in a browser.

Web hosting providers are responsible for managing and maintaining servers, ensuring your website stays online, loads fast, and remains secure.

Although it is possible to self-host your website, doing so necessitates a substantial amount of technical expertise and ongoing maintenance.

By opting for a web hosting provider, you can enjoy the benefits of secure, fast, and reliable hosting, all for a nominal fee.

Types of Web Hosting Services

Given the multitude of web hosting options at your disposal, discerning the ideal choice for your website can prove to be quite a challenge.

Web hosting providers typically offer a range of hosting packages tailored to meet the needs of various customers. Whether you’re a business website owner or a personal blog creator, there’s a hosting solution designed just for you.

Ideally, you should start with a simple hosting plan. Upgrade to a more advanced plan as your site gains more traffic. Check out Bluehost’s or Hostinger’s hosting prices to get an idea of the different types of hosting and costs.

Let’s explore the most popular options currently available.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is a popular and cost-effective type where multiple websites share server resources. This hosting option is perfectly suited for small businesses, blogs, and personal websites that experience low to moderate levels of traffic.

Shared web hosting is generally more affordable due to the utilization of shared resources, making it an appealing choice for those who do not require the additional advantages offered by dedicated hosting.

With shared hosting, storage space, bandwidth, and processing power are shared among all websites on the server.

Despite occasional performance issues and slower loading times during peak hours, it’s a great solution for beginners. Nevertheless, shared hosting might not be an ideal option for websites experiencing high traffic, resource-intensive applications, or businesses seeking to scale their traffic.

Pros:

  • Affordable, perfect for small websites
  • No technical expertise needed
  • Server options, pre-configured
  • No need for server administration or server maintenance

Cons:

  • Limited server configuration access
  • More website traffic can impact your site’s speed

WordPress hosting

WordPress hosting is designed for WordPress websites, supporting businesses, bloggers, and enterprises of all sizes.WordPress hosting services optimize servers for top performance, security, and compatibility.

This hosting option is ideal for individuals in search of a seamless and efficient hosting environment specifically tailored for WordPress. WordPress hosting streamlines website management by offering automatic updates, one-click installations, and pre-installed themes and plugins.

Pros:

  • Affordable and beginner friendly
  • Optimized for WordPress sites
  • Customer support trained in WordPress issue
  • Pre-installed WordPress plugins and themes

Cons:

  • Not ideal for non-WordPress websites

Managed WordPress hosting

Managed WordPress hosting elevates the WordPress hosting experience. This plan provides a seamless experience, with the hosting provider taking care of all the technical aspects involved in running a website.

For example, your hosting provider will automatically update your website, backup data, and optimize performance.

Managed WordPress hosting is perfect for people who want to focus on business growth without backend concerns. With managed hosting, you get faster load times, improved WordPress security features, and dedicated WordPress support.

Pros:

  • No need for any technical knowledge
  • Website Managed by experts
  • Improved security
  • Automatic Backup
  • Improved performance

Cons:

  • Much more pricier
  • WordPress websites only
  • Possible plugin limits
  • Forced updates
  • No standardized packages

VPS hosting

Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is a significant upgrade from shared hosting, providing enhanced power and flexibility for your website.

A virtual private server (VPS) is a hosting service that utilizes virtualization technology to allocate dedicated resources to you on a server shared by multiple users. This hosting option is ideal for businesses on the rise, e-commerce websites, or those in need of greater backend control and customization options.

VPS hosting provides enhanced flexibility in managing server resources, enabling you to enhance both performance and security. Moreover, you have the freedom to install custom software or applications if you’d like.

Pros:

  • Dedicated server space
  • Root access to the server
  • High customizability
  • Increased traffic on other websites doesn’t affect your site’s performance

Cons:

  • Users need to be tech-savvy to manage it
  • While the virtual server is generally cost-effective, some users may incur additional expenses by hiring a developer to oversee its management, thus increasing the overall costs involved.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud web hosting uses several virtual servers to host sites. Therefore, if a single server encounters heavy traffic or experiences an issue, the remaining servers will seamlessly take over and ensure uninterrupted website operation.

Given that cloud-based web hosting is reliant on a cluster of web servers, businesses with multiple websites and large-scale eCommerce shops benefit greatly from its minimal downtime.

Pros:

  • Less downtime and hardware failures
  • Scalability – your website isn’t limited to a single server
  • Utilizes load balancing to manage high traffic and mitigate DDoS attacks

Cons:

  • Access to the root is not always provided
  • It’s pricier than VPS and shared hosting

Reseller hosting

Reseller hosting is a unique business model where web hosting providers allow individuals or third-party organizations the opportunity to sell some or all their web hosting services. By enabling reselling, these providers expand their reach and offer opportunities for others to enter the web hosting market. Reseller web hosting allows organizations to offer web hosting services without the burden of building, operating, and managing their own hosting infrastructure.

Is Reseller Hosting Profitable?

Starting a new business is always a challenging endeavor. However, one advantage is that the web hosting market is vast and brimming with opportunities waiting to be seized. While there’s potential to earn well from reseller web hosting. The amount you can make depends on a few factors. The service quality you provide relies on the company you resell it for, making it beyond your control.

As a reseller, it is crucial to prioritize the aspects that are within your control. This includes your store, advertising, marketing, and SEO. By focusing on these elements, you can enhance the quality of your business and maximize its potential.

It is crucial to diligently track your website traffic and place significant emphasis on acquiring and retaining customers. If you’re selling services remotely (from a website with good traffic), customer acquisition and retention become easier, especially if hosting is offered as an additional service.

Pros:

  • No Upfront Investment
  • Web hosting infrastructure access
  • Free technical support
  • White labeling
  • Simple content and client management
  • Low barriers to entry

Cons:

  • You rely on the original web hosting company
  • You’ll Need to dedicate time to customer service
  • Must be tech-savvy
  • Switching providers impact your clients
  • Limited server access

Dedicated hosting

Dedicated server hosting offers a complete server for your website, guaranteeing maximum control, customization, and performance. This hosting option is ideal for large enterprises that experience high levels of traffic and require robust resources to support resource-intensive applications.

By utilizing a dedicated server, you can enhance your website’s speed, resulting in an improved user experience and a greater likelihood of achieving high search rankings.

While dedicated hosting may come with a higher price tag, its unparalleled performance, robust security, and optimized features make it the ultimate solution for websites with high traffic and specialized requirements.

Pros:

  • Full server configuration control
  • High reliability
  • Server root access

Cons:

  • Expensive, mainly for big businesses
  • Technical and server management skills are a must

The difference between web hosting and domain hosting

Web hosting and domain hosting are closely intertwined, yet they are distinct services with unique purposes. Web hosts store website content on internet servers, while domain hosts provide domain names that serve as addresses for accessing the website. By utilizing web hosts and domain hosts, visitors can access your website content.

Domain hosting, also known as domain registration, refers to the process of acquiring and effectively managing a unique domain name for your website. This domain name is your website’s online address, allowing visitors to access your site.

Companies like Bluehost, a domain hosting provider, offer a range of services to assist you in registering, renewing, and safeguarding your domain name and personal information.

On the other hand, web hosting provides server space, bandwidth, and technical infrastructure to store and transmit your website’s files to users. This process ensures that your website loads quickly maintains robust security measures, and remains consistently accessible online.

Tips for choosing the perfect web hosting provider

With numerous web hosting options available, it is crucial to contemplate what holds the utmost significance for you and your website. We have created a detailed list of factors to consider when choosing a hosting solution that aligns with your website’s needs.

Web Host’s Uptime

Uptime refers to the duration during which a host’s servers remain operational without experiencing any outages. A higher uptime signifies that your website will be accessible more often, ensuring greater availability to users.

And according to StatusCake, a mere 11% of visitors would consider revisiting a website if they were unable to access it during their initial visit.

When searching for a hosting company, prioritize those that offer a strong uptime guarantee. This is especially crucial for e-commerce websites or high-traffic blogs. Ensuring consistent availability will contribute to the smooth operation and success of your online platform.

Customer support

Customer support plays a crucial role for small businesses seeking a hassle-free website solution. It is an essential ingredient that ensures a smooth and seamless experience. Great customer service makes navigating technical issues or getting help with our website much easier.

Select a hosting provider that offers 24/7 support via phone, chat, and email, plus a comprehensive knowledge base. This way, you can ensure timely assistance whenever you need it.

Reviews and recommendations

Researching a hosting provider’s reputation provides insights into their dependability, customer support, and service quality. By doing so, you can gain a better understanding of their dependability, level of customer support, and the overall excellence of their services.

To assess the credibility and track record of the provider, check out third-party online reviews, seek recommendations, and actively participate in relevant forums. This approach will provide valuable insights and facilitate a well-informed decision-making process.

WordPress officially recommended web hosting

If you’re considering WordPress as your content management system (CMS), it’s advisable to opt for a hosting provider officially recommended by WordPress, such as Dreamhost or Bluehost, just to name a couple. This ensures a seamless experience and optimal performance for your website.

Given that WordPress powers more than 43.1% of all websites, it is imperative to select a provider with extensive experience in managing WordPress websites.

These web hosting providers offer meticulously tested and finely optimized environments tailored to the specific requirements of WordPress websites. By doing so, they guarantee exceptional outcomes in terms of speed, security, and reliability.

cpanel access

cPanel is a user-friendly control panel designed to streamline website management. It provides effortless management of your domains, email accounts, and databases.

Select a web hosting provider with cPanel access, like Bluehost. This is especially useful if you’re not tech-savvy or have limited website management experience.

Technical Hosting Specifications

Depending on your website’s needs, you’ll require customized technical specifications such as storage space, bandwidth, and the number of email accounts.

Before selecting a hosting provider, ensure that it offers abundant resources to ensure seamless operations and allows room for future growth.

Security

Ensuring the security of your web host is crucial for safeguarding your website and users against cyber threats.

When searching for a web host, it is crucial to prioritize features such as SSL certificates, automatic backups, and malware scanning. These elements are essential for ensuring a secure website. Additionally, it is important to evaluate the brand voice of the web host you choose.

Moreover, prioritizing secure websites is crucial for achieving High Rankings On Search Engine results pages (SERPs).

Final Verdict

Exploring the world of web hosting can feel daunting, but armed with the right insights, you can navigate with confidence and make well-informed choices.

We have explored different hosting options, covered the mechanics of web hosting, and highlighted important considerations for selecting a provider. Equipped with this knowledge, you can confidently choose the hosting solution that aligns perfectly with your requirements and budget.

By choosing a service provider like Bluehost, you can enjoy the perfect balance – cost-effective, high-quality hosting that is dependable, secure, and lightning-fast.

FAQs About What Is Web Hosting

Do I Need to Buy Web Hosting?

Yes, most of the time. Choosing a web hosting company is the easiest and most affordable way to host a website. Top hosts utilize advanced technologies to ensure the utmost safety and security of your website. However, when you create a blog on WordPress.com, there’s no need to purchase a hosting plan.

How Does Free Website Hosting Work?

Free hosting is a great way to learn website fundamentals like file management, maintenance, and security monitoring. With 000webhost, you can experience top-notch free website hosting, providing an exceptional foundation for your online journey.

What is Website Hosting Exactly?

In essence, web hosting is a service offered by companies that enables you to showcase and access your website, ensuring its visibility to the online world.

How Much Does Website Hosting Cost?

The cost of website hosting varies based on the provider, hosting type, and the chosen features. The total expenses can fluctuate depending on these factors. If you’re in search of cost-effective and user-friendly solutions, Hostinger’s WordPress and Shared Hosting plans are highly recommended options.

What's the most popular type of web hosting service?

Shared hosting remains the most popular choice amongst many due to its affordability and ease of use.

What's an example of web hosting?

Bluehost is a prime example of a web hosting service that provides server space for storing your website content. When a user searches for your domain, their server establishes communication with us to facilitate the transfer of data and display your website.

Can I self-host my website?

If you choose to host your own website, it is important to consider that it requires a certain level of technical expertise, sufficient resources, and ongoing maintenance efforts. This includes tasks such as configuring servers, managing databases, ensuring security measures, and regularly updating software components.

What's the best hosting for a business website?

For optimum performance, scalability, and reliability, we highly recommend VPS or dedicated hosting for your business website. These options provide unmatched quality and ensure that your website runs smoothly and efficiently.

What hosting type is best for a small blog?

For a blog, Shared hosting or WordPress hosting is the ideal choice as it strikes a perfect balance between cost and performance. This ensures optimal functionality and affordability without compromising on quality.

Is managed WordPress hosting reliable?

Opting for Managed WordPress hosting can provide enhanced reliability through regular updates, yet it doesn’t offer any capabilities beyond what you could achieve on your own.

Why opt for managed WordPress hosting?

Choosing managed WordPress hosting ensures your site stays secure and up to date, even when you can’t manage updates and installations yourself.

Popular Hosting Types