What is Web Hosting? — Ultimate Guide to Web Hosting

What is Host?

A Web host is an organization that sells or leases memory space on its servers. Web hosting is typically done in a data center, which provides services to clients that enable them to publish websites on the Internet.

Types of Web hosting Services

When visitors want to view your website, all they need to do is type your website address or domain into their web browser. Their computer will then connect to your server and your webpages will be delivered to them through the browser.

1. Shared Hosting

Numerous sites are hosted on the same server. Shared hosting services are affordable and are also referred to as cheap web hosting because the cost to operate & maintain the server is shared between multiple owners. Shared hosting though economical has many disadvantages, such as being slower and not being able to provide a dedicated ip address to each website on the server. This is the right choice for new businesses and websites.

2. Reseller Hosting

Clients are allowed to be Web hosts themselves.

3. Dedicated server hosting

This kind of hosting allows full control of the server to the client. The server is usually leased by the client annually.

4. Managed Hosting

The managed hosting client does not keep full control of the server. In most cases, quality of the service such as server optimization for speed and security are the responsibilities of the managed hosting provider. The user may manage data using FTP or other remote management tools.

5. Website Builders

Website builder services is a type of hosting service that is suitable for green horn beginners who need to host a website, but lack any technical skills and knowledge, what so ever to create one from scratch or even use a CMS (content management system).

6. Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting is a new type of hosting and has become very popular in the last few years. It is an alternative to hosting websites on a single server (either dedicated or shared server) and can be considered as an extension of the concept of clustered hosting where a single website is hosted on multiple servers.

7. VPS hosting

VPS (Virtual Private Servers) Hosting, sometimes also known as “Private Cloud”, is based on servers which are crafted using virtualization mechanism.

What is a Domain Name Server (DNS)

Each device connected to the Internet has a unique IP address which other machines use to find the device. DNS servers eliminate the need for humans to memorize IP addresses such as 192.168.1.1 (in IPv4), or more complex newer alphanumeric IP addresses such as 2400:cb00:2048:1::c629:d7a2 (in IPv6). (4)

Which Web Server to choose — Linux or Windows?

While linux and windows web servers are functionally equivalent, choosing any one depends on what are your hosting needs are.

Which is the best hosting? Shared hosting or Dedicated?

Before you make a decision, you need to understand what your hosting needs are, as these hosting services differ vastly in terms of performance and cost.

Shared Hosting

In a shared hosting environment, multiple websites are put on a single shared server. This allows the shared web hosting provider to reduce the cost of services for small businesses and startups with budget limitations. Limitations on shared server hosting include limits on storage and bandwidth. Speed & performance of your website is dependent on the needs of the other websites, as you will be sharing the same server resources. Shared hosting service is ideal for new, small or development stage websites that do not require a lot of bandwidth, disk storage or CPU consumption.

Dedicated Server Hosting

In a dedicated server hosting environment, only one website is hosted on the dedicated server. And because you are not sharing server resources with multiple websites, your resources limits are unlimited meaning your millets are the same as that of the server. Dedicated server hosting service is for people who run a popular and high traffic website, that requires a lot of resources like disk space, and run scripts that requires extensive CPU consumption.

Can I host my website on my personal computer?

Yes, you can.

  1. You should know how to setup a WWW server software on your computer. This is a software that allows Internet users to access the web files on your computer.
  2. You will need to investigate the bandwidth quota allotted to you by your Internet service provider before you decide to run websites from your home computer.
  3. Your computer must stay on and connected to the internet at all times. Every time you turn off or reboot your computer, your website will become unavailable.
  4. Your website will load slowly as home internet connections are not designed for serving web pages to a large number of visitors.
  5. You will be responsible for the performance and possible security risks for your home computer and website.

Features of a Hosting Plan

Now that you know all about web hosting, and have probably decided the best one for you, I have here a list of features that you must evaluate before you invest in hosting.

1. Disk Space

All hosting accounts offer a certain amount of disk space that you can use to store your web files. It is recommended that you have some sort of estimate on what you will need for you web application or website and what your preferred web host will provide. You need to think about space for emails, web files, database and more. By breaking down your usage, you can better estimate how much space you will need. A 5GB disk space is considered sufficient for a new average sized website with enough space for emails, web files and database.

2. Bandwidth

What is bandwidth? It’s the amount of data that your host will let you and your visitors upload and download (cumulatively) in a given month. Say your website is 1 megabyte of data and your monthly bandwidth is 10 MB. At the beginning of the month, you upload the entire site; now you’ve used up one MB of bandwidth. If a visitor to your site views every page, they will have downloaded 1MB of data. That means you can have up to 9 visitors in that month (assuming each views your whole site). After that, your web host will either not allow any more visitors, or (more likely) charge you extra per MB. Of course, your bandwidth is something you’ll want to keep an eye on, especially if you run a fairly popular site or do something media intensive (like host your own video, or high-res photos). (5)

3. Uptime

It is the percentage of time the Web host server is actually connected to the Internet, thus allowing access to the websites it hosts at all times. Most reliable web hosts provide uptime of more than 99 percent, with about 45 minutes of downtime per month for maintenance.

4. Support

This is one of the most important considerations before selecting your web host. You need to find out exactly what your prospective host offers for technical support. Do they have a call centre, can you call them? At what times? Do they have a support email address? What are their response times? Do they have a ticket system? How about a live chat? Do they have articles / tutorials for simple queries and setups? Don’t choose a host until you know exactly what kind of support they offer!

5. Email Accounts

Email accounts are a common feature of popular hosting companies, especially if you are hosting a domain. There are three main types of email accounts: POP3, forwarding, and aliases.
POP3 accounts are the traditional inboxes. You can use the space on your server to store your emails, and at the same time. You may use an email client to download your mail.

6. FTP Access

At some time or the other, you will need to transfer the web files of your website from your computer to your web server or vice versa. These files are transferred to and from the server by use of FTP (file transfer protocol) using an FTP client like filezilla or putty.

7. Pre-Installed Apps or one click installs

Often the technical aspects of managing a website can become tough. However most popular and reputed web hosting services provide easy installation of popular content management systems such as wordpress, drupal, joomla, magento etc to name a few.(6)

8. Free bonuses to look out for

Reputed web hosts provide a many other features with hosting plans. Some of the key features are unlimited free email accounts, unlimited free sub domains, unlimited add on domains that allows you to host more than 1 site. Some also provide regular backups and free SSL certificates along with a free domain registration.

FAQ

1 What is shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is Web hosting in which the service provider serves pages for multiple Web sites, each having its own Internet domain name, from a single Web server. Most Web hosting companies provide shared hosting.

2 What is reseller hosting?

Reseller hosting is a web hosting option in which a hosting provider (generally with big infrastructure) rents their servers, hard drive space and bandwidth to another company (of smaller size but with geographical depth in a specific locality) to host thir party websites.

3 How to start a hosting reseller business?

By making use of reseller hosting plans one can start web hosting business.

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Avinash Chandra

Avinash Chandra

CEO, BrandLoom ($1m Startup). Digital Marketing Wizard.