Beginner's Guide

What is Web Hosting? How Does it Work? (Explained)

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What is Web Hosting - Explained for Beginners

Are you curious about what web hosting is, and all of the nitty gritty details you need to get started? 

But when you start researching yourself, you honestly don’t know where to start? Well, look no further, because we have you covered!

Web hosting is a service that enables you to publish your website on the internet. It’s one of the essential things you need to make a website and host it on the World Wide Web. 

Keep reading, we’ll explain it in detail here. By the end of this article, you’ll have a thorough idea of what web hosting is and how it works. We’ll cover everything you need to know about web hosting.

1. What is Web Hosting? – Definition

In simple terms, web hosting is a basic thing that you need to publish a website on the internet. To be exact, it’s a service that gives resources and connectivity to a website to be seen on the internet. 

Web Hosting

You can make a website on your local computer but it can’t get visible on the web until you host it. Hosting is like buying a piece of land on the internet where you make a house, i.e. a website and it’s visible to the internet users. 

We’re certain you’ve heard of a website; you’re on one right now! If you haven’t, then you can say a website is just a collection of web pages on the internet. A web page might be an article you read, like this one, or a YouTube video, or anything else online.

To conclude, web hosting is a service that provides connectivity that a site needs to be online. You create the content and customize your website to your liking using tools like HTML(HyperText Markup Language), and the process of web hosting will make it accessible to the internet, using a few important resources. 

Then how to get web hosting? Usually, a company called a ‘web host’, ‘hosting provider’, or ‘hosting company’ provides web hosting service. To name a few companies, Bluehost, HostGator, DreamHost, SiteGround, etc. are the best.


2. How Does Web Hosting Work?

Let’s say you make a website. But it can’t just exist in thin air. You need some place to store it. If you’ve used a pen drive or hard drive, you know that you need memory to store files.

It’s the same with websites; all the files and content need to be stored somewhere, right? That’s where a thing called a hosting server comes in. 

Hosting Server
– Hosting Server

A server is a special type of computer that is used to store all your website data. It’s much like other storage devices because it’s a physical location for files.

These hosting servers are powerful computers that are much, much more robust than your average computer. These computers store your website files and show your content online when internet users try to access your website. 

They are usually really large and cumbersome too, and so they sometimes require entire buildings dedicated to them, called data centers. These data centers are very important buildings and are well ventilated and the temperature is controlled. They are also constantly monitored and guarded. 

Web hosting companies have usually invested in very high powered servers and safe data centers as it’s their primary service. They lease out memory space on their servers in order for you to have your website on the internet at all times.

They also provide the software needed for your computer to access the website properly.

Special kind of operating system is required to run a server, the most popular being:

  • Linux
  • Solaris
  • Microsoft Windows Server

Now let’s say someone wants to look at a website. When someone wishes to access a website, their computer is known as a ‘client’. 

To access the site, a client would first send a request to the server specifying which website is needed. The server then sends a copy of the website to the client computer. After that, the client will be able to view and interact with the site locally.


3. What are the Types of Web Hosting?

Although web hosting seems like a  simple concept, there are many types and subdivisions of web hosting. They are based on many factors, such as server location, how space is allocated, etc. The most prominent types of web hosting are:

1. Shared Web Hosting

Where a server has allocated resources for more than one website. It means that your website will be hosted alongside other sites, and share space with them on the server.

2. Dedicated Web Hosting

Where a user gets an entire server to themselves without having to share resources. It usually means you get the entire processing power of the server to yourself. 

2. Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

Where a virtual machine is sold by the web hosts as a server. It’s the middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting where the main server is split into multiple virtual servers dedicated to one website each. 

3. Cloud Hosting

Where data isn’t stored onto a physical server, but rather amongst a group of computers at various locations. It is very decentralized and safer, although hard to manage. It turns your computer into part of a server and uses its processing power.

4. Reseller Web Hosting

Where a client resells the server space allocated to them. If you purchase a reseller web hosting plan, you can resell it to other entities.

5. Self Service Web Hosting

Where you run and manage your own server rather than relying on other people or companies. It requires a really high level of technical knowledge and isn’t recommended for beginners.

6. Colocation Web Hosting

Where you simply pay for a company’s server security and protection, while the hardware will have to be provided by yourself. You’ll be paying for the security a data center provides instead.

We hope this helped you decide what kind of hosting service you need. If you want to learn more about them, check our detailed article on web hosting types.


4. How to Pick the Right Hosting Plan?

Picking a hosting company and a hosting plan can be quite tricky. As most web hosts charge you beforehand in order to host your site for a certain period of time, you have to prepare well. 

Your web hosting plan should be picked on the basis of:

i. Amount of Traffic

A website that expects a high amount of traffic would need a better, more expensive hosting plan. This is because when more people visit a website, it requires more memory to work properly, which costs more.

Therefore, it’s important that you carefully predict the flow of traffic on your website and pick the right plan for your requirements.

ii. Hosting Time

Most web hosts have varied pricing plans for their annual and monthly plans. So you should also think carefully about how long you want to host your website on a particular hosting.

iii. Premium features

Hosting companies also provide different types of additional features. For example, custom email, website builder, site security and scan, etc. If you’ve specific requirements like these, then you should check whether the hosting plan includes them or not.

iv. Security

As we said, data centers need to be really well guarded against high temperatures, vandalism, and anything else that can damage the server. 

If the server were ever to malfunction, all of the websites that rely on it would not open until the problem is dealt with. If the server is entirely destroyed, then all of the websites on it are gone forever, unless they are backed up.

So, you should research as much as you can to get the best out of your web hosting experience!


5. Where to Buy a Web Hosting Plan? 

 If you’re to host your website locally, you would have to keep a computer running all the time, as well as perform maintenance on it. That would be very difficult to manage indeed. 

Not only do most people not have the skills and resources, but even if you did, the task is fairly time-consuming. So, we enlist the best web hosting companies you can trust in 2020. They are:

These companies have usually invested in powerful servers capable of handling a large amount of data. They then use these powerful servers to host multiple websites at a time, for a price.

Web hosting companies not only have the resources for hosting websites, but some of them can even provide helpful resources in order for you to create and customize your website.

For example, DreamHost provides free domain, WordPress One-Click installer, website builder, and a set of useful plugins.

Best Web Hosting Companies Dreamhost
– Dreamhost Website Hosting

If you want to check out more hosting options, then see our review and comparison of the 10+ best hosting companies.


6. Difference Between Hosting and Domain Name? 

When talking about web hosting, there’s one other thing that often comes along, ‘domain name‘. Sometimes, this makes beginners think that ‘web hosting’ and ‘domain name’ are the same. But in reality, they refer to 2 different things required for creating a website.

Simply, a domain name is your website’s name and address. It’s the combination of characters that people enter on the browser’s address bar to visit your website.

For example, ‘sitesaga.com’ is our website’s domain name. Anyone from anywhere can easily access our site anytime by entering this name on browser’s address bar.

SiteSaga Domain Name
– SiteSaga Domain Name

On the other hand, web hosting is where your site’s files and data are stored. But users wouldn’t know that location unless it has an address. The domain name is that address.

Precisely, the domain is the name of the location where your site is stored i.e. hosting. Hence the 2 are closely related. In summary, we can say that hosting is a place on the internet where your site is stored whereas domain is a name that points to that place.

For example, imagine you have a library. Your website can be compared to a certain book in that library, and the bookshelf which it’s on can be compared to a server. The domain name would be the call number of the book, and to look for a certain book, you would need the call number. 

That’s simple, right?


Conclusion

So, we now hope you have a clear understanding of what web hosting is, how it works, and how to choose the best hosting for your website. 

Also, by reading this article, you’ve brought yourself one step closer to understanding how web hosting and the internet works, and how you yourself can make one.

You may also want to read our article about what is a blog and how it works. 

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Written By SiteSaga Editorial
SiteSaga Editorial is a team of highly experienced writers, marketers, and web developers. We're here to help beginners get online with their self-made websites or blogs and succeed.

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