If you want to establish an online presence, it’s essential to understand what web hosting is. Whether you’re building a website yourself or would like to learn more about it, we’re here to help you with everything you need to know about how website hosting works.
Website hosting is the process of buying space online to store your website on the internet. Signing up for a website service allows you to publish your website online.
When you create a WordPress website, you need two things: a domain name and a hosting option.
WordPress, the best content management system (CMS) in the world, is free, but it requires website hosting (which serves and stores your website files) and a domain name, i.e. the address of your website.
A web server is a physical computer that connects other users to your website. Whenever someone types your website address into their browser, your host transfers all the files needed to fulfill that request.
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In addition to storing and delivering files, hosting services often help you with website maintenance as well, such as backups, security, and uptime. As the features and prices of hosting providers can vary greatly, choosing a hosting plan that suits your needs is crucial.
We mentioned that WordPress sites require a web host and a domain name .
When users want to access your website, they type your domain name into their browser. Their computer sends a request to connect to the web server holding their files.
Before reaching your web server, the request passes through a network of nameservers, which make up the Domain Name System (DNS) . In DNS, the request looks up the server’s IP addresses and forwards the request to them.
In short, DNS ensures that the browser connects to the correct server.
You can think of the web server as your home location, and the domain name as your address. Your home can be anywhere globally, but the domain name allows people to find you.
DNS was born because websites communicate via IP addresses , strings of numbers that are difficult to memorize. Tying an easy-to-remember domain name to a website’s IP address makes browsing the web simpler.
Website owners can buy domain names from domain name registrars .
Now that you know what website hosting is, let’s look at the different types of website plans out there.
Different customers have different needs. An online business that uses multiple media files and receives numerous visitors has more hosting requirements than a personal website used for blogging.
Hosting providers consider speed, storage space, and price for their hosting plan offerings. Each option has different payoffs.
Let’s look at the most popular options available.
As you learn what web hosting is, you’ll probably hear about shared web hosting . Shared hosting is best for entry-level functions. Being geared towards beginners, shared hosting packages often come with website builders, templates and email features.
With shared hosting, you share server resources, such as disk space and bandwidth, with other websites, making it a more affordable option. However, because you share space with multiple websites on a server, risks are involved.
Shared hosting can affect website performance . For example, if one of the other sites experiences heavy traffic, it will slow down your site. There are also security risks with shared hosting that can lead to a hacked website.
Websites on a shared host also share an IP address. If a neighboring website performs an illegal activity, your IP address will be blocked, preventing users or even Google from accessing your website.
Best for: New sites that receive minimal web traffic, such as small business sites.
- Low cost
- Preconfigured server options
- Requires little or no technical knowledge
- Website hosting takes care of server maintenance
- Resources shared with other sites can affect security and speed
- shared IP address
- Little or no control over server configuration
Dedicated hosting is at the opposite end of the spectrum from shared hosting. It is usually the most expensive type of hosting because it gives website owners the most control over their servers.
With dedicated hosting, you rent the entire server, so you’re in charge of everything from choosing the operating system to maintaining it.
Best for: Website owners who have high levels of traffic or need control over their servers.
- Dedicated server space
- Faster website speed
- Scalable and customizable
- Most expensive type of hosting
- Requires technical experience
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is the middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting.
VPS hosting mimics dedicated hosting because each website has its own server space, but websites on VPS hosting still share server space with others.
Best for: Website owners who require more control over their servers but don’t necessarily need a dedicated server.
- Provides dedicated server space without the hefty price tag
- Website owners can configure their server space
- Does not require much technical knowledge
- Unable to handle high traffic levels or spikes
- Performance is still affected by other sites on the server
What is the most reliable web hosting option? Cloud hosting . Unlike regular hosting, which takes a centralized approach, storing data from multiple websites on a physical server, cloud hosting operates on virtualization .
With virtualization, data appears to be stored on one server, but multiple storage devices share the capacity of the physical server. Since data is stored in multiple locations, it can be easily backed up and retrieved. It’s also more flexible, as it’s easier to add storage space.
Best for: High-traffic sites that need a lot of processing power, bandwidth, and disk space, such as eCommerce stores.
- Little or no downtime
- Features scale according to user needs
- Difficult to estimate actual costs because it varies monthly
- internet dependent
Web hosting is often comprised of one of these four plans, but hosting packages cater to specific markets as well.
Managed WordPress hosting (or simply WordPress hosting ) is a type of shared hosting for WordPress users.
Servers are set up specifically for WordPress so your site runs faster and smoother. WordPress hosting plans also include special features such as:
- Pre-installed plugins.
- One Click WordPress
- pre-designed wordpress
- Drag and Drop Builders.
- Customer support team knowledgeable in WordPress.
With the dominance of eCommerce stores, hosting providers have introduced eCommerce hosting .
Like WordPress hosting, eCommerce hosting offers unique features tailored for the business. These often include:
WooCommerce hosting is a subtype of eCommerce hosting that you might want to consider if your site has a WooCommerce powered store.