What does website hosting mean?
If you’re planning on starting your own website, chances are you’ve already heard these sentences: “you should set up a web hosting first” or “find a reliable web hosting service”
But what does website hosting mean?
In this article we’re aiming to discuss these topics: first, we’ll talk about what a website hosting service is and what it actually entails, secondly, how does it really work? And lastly, what website hosting services should we decide on? With that in mind, let’s start.
What does website hosting mean?
When you design a website, you’ll have a collection of files which contain all the data of your website, including text, images and other files. And you’ll have a database where some of these information are stored and then called back while requesting to visit a webpage, so the user can see the entire page and interact with it.
Now you can run all of these files locally, meaning on your personal computer, but since other people have no way of accessing your computer, this will be pretty much useless. No one else can view your website.
This is where you need a website hosting service. A website host is essentially a storage space on a hard drive of a server that is designed and configured to host websites. This server can be anywhere in the world but it is connected to internet and can be accessed from anywhere.
This storage space along with some other capabilities that we’ll get into are your website hosting service. After purchasing a “host”, you can upload all of the files related to your website into that host. Now anyone, anywhere in the world can visit your website.
So to summarize, a website hosting service is kind of storage on a server that allows you to share your website with other people.
How does a web hosting work?
Let’s assume you’ve done what we talked about and you’ve purchased a host and uploaded all of your files. Great…but how do other people connect to your website? There is where your domain name comes into play. When you purchase a hosting service, you have to specify a domain name for it. When people enter your domain name into the URL section of their browser, it connects and finds its way to the server where your website files are stored. (This is done through a process called Domain Name System or DNS)
When this happens, the server realizes that you have requested to view the website example[dot]com and thus shows you it’s index or main page. And there you have it! You’re now connected to your website!
If you haven’t picked out a domain name, continue reading here.
What are different types of web hosting?
Now that we know what web hosting is and how it works, how do we decide what web hosting service to purchase?
If you browse the internet about this, you’ll quickly realize there are many different packages that you can choose from, a lot of which might sound unfamiliar to you.
There are many different types of website hosting services, but we’ll talk about the main ones here:
Normal shared hosting
A shared web hosting is when your website is hosted on a server with many other websites, sometimes thousands of others.
There are many advantages of doing so but the main one is price. It’s a lot cheaper to host multiple websites together on a server than to dedicate each server to a single site.
For example if I want to set up a personal website which only lists my CV and contact information, I only need a limited amount of resources to make this site run perfectly. In that case, a shared hosting is my best option.
The biggest downside of shared hosting is its limited resources: When you’re hosting hundreds of different websites on a single server, resources such as RAM and CPU are going to be scarce.
That’s why if you’re running a high-performance website such as a shopping site, a shared hosting is not a good option.
VPS or virtual private server, is a huge step above normal shared hosting in terms of performance. A VPS is when a private server is “virtually” set up on the main node of the server. What that means is that you can have a physical server which is housing multiple different virtual servers within it. Each virtual server operates independently from the next, and it holds resources that are dedicated to it. What this means is that when you’re running your site on VPS, the resources of that VPS are available to you, and to you alone. No other site will be using it.
As you can imagine, a VPS will significantly improve the performance of your website, but the prices are usually considerably higher than normal shared hosting services. That’s why it’s recommended to established businesses.
The biggest and most powerful of the bunch, a dedicated server.
As you can probably tell by the name, a dedicated server is when you have the entirety of a physical server at your disposal. In this scenario, you’ll have control over all of the server. A server which under the packages of normal shared hosting would have been divided between hundreds of different people, is going to be solely in your control. Also, something else that you could predict: this is the best way to run a website (or frankly, anything computer-related) but the costs are going to be monumental. That’s why very few business actually do end up using dedicated servers. Only companies or entities that have very large incomes are able to own and operate dedicated servers for their websites.
It’s technically a type of shared hosting, but uses the cloud computing technology and is able to perform much better than the normal shared hosting.
In traditional shared hosting, your website will be housed on one physical server. This means the performance of the website is dependent on the condition of said server.
In a cloud host, the website could be hosted on sometimes hundreds of different servers that form the cloud. When someone requests to visit your website, the cloud system chooses the best route from performing servers at that time to load and operate your website. So if one or more servers are under heavy load, the cloud system can bypass those servers in order to keep the performance of the website at an acceptable rate.
So that’s all, these were the main types of web hosting plans that you’re likely to come across.
You can look through different plans here at Rackset.com, and choose the best plan you seem fit. Of course if you have any questions and are in need of help for choosing a hosting, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to hear from you.
Written by: Ali Foroughi
November 26th, 2018