If you’re trying to get your website online, you may be confused by all the different options available. You might even wonder “what is a web hosting service?” The lines can blur, especially when you see companies offering free hosting or no hosting needed plans.
You should understand what a web hosting service is before you look into the different options. This guide will clear up your confusion and explain the basics of how web hosting services work.
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History of web hosting
In the old days, anyone who wanted a website had to own a computer or server so that they could host their website. That was no easy feat. If the computer got turned off, the site went down as well.
Fast forward to today, and the competition among web hosting services is fiercer than ever before. This intense competition is great for anyone who wants an excellent deal on their hosting plan.
What is a web hosting service?
As we mentioned, anyone who has a website needs a web server for it to live on.
Web hosting services fulfill the role of “housing” for your website.
Just like you need a place to live, so does your website! But what does this mean specifically?
It means this:
A web hosting service provider provides the technology and infrastructure that’s necessary for hosting your website. First, your website’s data gets stored on their server. Then, their server sends that data over to users, and users access it through their web browsers.
What is a website server?
Here’s the simplified non-techie definition: a server is a computer whose sole purpose is to deliver web pages.
The server of your hosting company acts as an intermediary between your website and your customers, delivering your web pages to them.
In basic terms, your web host’s server communicates with the computers of the people who search for your website.
What is an IP address?
The two computers communicate through IP Addresses. An example of a fictional IP Address is 63.498.23.9
More specifically, when someone types a URL into a web browser, the machine they’re using requests the IP address of the computer (or server) that hosts the website.
IP addresses are easy for machines to remember, but not us, which is why we have personalized domain names. A personalized domain name converts the jumble of numbers in an IP address into easy to remember words.
What is a domain name?
Google.com is an obvious example of a domain name. The benefit of having your own domain name is that it can help people find your website more easily. It will also help you gain the trust of visitors.
When choosing a domain name, it’s important to pick one that describes your business and is easy for visitors to remember.
You must have both a domain name and a web hosting service to run your website. So what is the easiest way to attain both?
Domain name service vs hosting service
For the domain name, you have the option of buying it from the same company that provides you with hosting, or you may want to choose two separate companies for each. GoDaddy is the most popular domain name registrar, holding nearly 50% of all domain name registrations.
Both approaches have their pros and cons. Having your domain name and hosting plan managed by the same company can make things a bit easier. However, there are benefits to keeping them separate as well.
Domain name benefits
Once you have your domain name, it’s yours forever. As for the hosting, you will be free to change between hosts as you please. It’s not too hard to do, and your hosting provider will help.
It’s just like your phone number. In most cases, you can keep your number when switching network providers.
Is web hosting always a requirement?
There are exceptions to hosting being a requirement. Website builders such as Wix, for example, do not require you to set up hosting because they do that for you. However, the general rule for getting your website online is that you have to sign up for a web hosting service.
How to choose the right web hosting service
With so many web hosting options available, the hardest part is choosing the right one. Therefore, you should understand why you need web hosting in the first place.
There are different kinds of web hosting suited for different needs. However, once you choose your hosting provider, you’re already halfway there. It doesn’t get much more technical after that, as the hosting provider will take care of most of the technical stuff for you!
Why a web hosting service is necessary
It doesn’t matter how big or small your online business is, hosting is something you’ll have to sort out.
Without it, no one will be able to connect to your website. Your website will not get sent to the user’s computer when they search for your website’s URL. It’s as simple as that.
A good, reliable web host is especially crucial if you’re an eCommerce. Keeping your site running smoothly 24/7 is critical in the competitive eCommerce niche. Interrupted availability can not only cost you sales but also leave a bad first impression on new visitors, making them never come back to your website. This is backed up by statistics: 47% of new visitors will expect your website to load in 2 seconds or less, and if it takes 3 seconds, 40% of them will back out of your website.