“What is web hosting and how does it work” can be a daunting question to newcomers. Not only is it a technical subject, but there are also many different types of web hosting options available on the market. The amount of options available these days is overwhelming. For most business owners, it’s difficult to know where to start.
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What is web hosting and how does it work?
First, let’s start with the basic definition of what web hosting is. Without getting too technical just yet, web hosting is the activity of providing access and storage space for websites.
But, of course, there’s more to web hosting than just providing access and storage. Website security, website management, dependability, performance, cost, and having control over your website are all crucial elements of website hosting as well.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, not all web hosting options are suitable for your business. So how do you go about choosing?
Well, you should first have a basic understanding of how each type of web hosting service works.
For the average person, web hosting isn’t too complicated. Shared hosting plans serve the majority of website owners, and it’s expected that shared hosting services will continue to grow in revenue by 10.4% annually. These plans are offered by well-known companies such as Hostgator, Bluehost, Dreamhost, and GoDaddy.
The main benefits of shared hosting are that it’s pretty cheap and easy to set up. WordPress is a breeze to install on most shared hosting plans. Website maintenance isn’t too difficult either.
So what are the downsides? Well, shared hosting is essentially entry-level hosting. Resources in shared hosting plans get divided up among several different users. This has numerous implications for your website.
- Very affordable rates.
- For most websites, shared hosting provides more than enough disk space and bandwidth with the opportunity to add more resources later on. These are important considerations because they help a business owner run their website more efficiently.
- Website management is easy. Professional experts handle it behind the scenes.
- Most shared hosting plans come with the tools a business needs such as website builders (aka WordPress), email clients, and more.
- You’ll have various user-friendly control panel tools allowing for some customization including uploading images and files and checking site statistics.
- While most shared hosting providers are respectable, dependability is always a concern with shared hosting. Despite the extra measures put in place, when thousands of websites depend on one server, server crashes are a possibility.
- The success of others on your server can hamper your own success. When someone experiences a surge of traffic to their site, loading times can increase for your visitors and make their experience worse. You might also lose out on some potential visitors’ altogether.
- Security is one of the most important aspects of website hosting. It only takes one misuse of a sensitive element, and the entire server can suffer glitches. Consequently, intruders might gain access to your data, or your website can get blacklisted.
For business owners, website maintenance becomes more difficult as you begin to get more traffic and your website demands start growing. This is when it’s important to start asking yourself the question “what is web hosting, and how does it work?”
And then you’ll learn about web servers. Let’s start with dedicated servers. Unlike with shared hosting where you share a server with many different users, a dedicated server one that’s exclusively rented by you.
- Full control over your website server.
- Full root and admin access.
- You’ll have full control over everything from security to the operating system.
- More expensive, but worth it for those with high traffic who need more control levels and better server performance.
- High level of expertise required for installation and ongoing management of the server.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
VPS is a hybrid of shared hosting and dedicated hosting. Or in other words, it mimics a dedicated server but is part of a shared environment.
It’s partitioned so that it has a working operating system, disc storage, and data transfer capacity. This partitioned virtual server is dedicated to you, but you still share the same physical server as other users.
- VPS is a good transition from shared hosting. It’s ideal for website owners who want more control but aren’t ready to invest in a dedicated server.
- VPS has the cost benefits of shared hosting with the control of dedicated hosting.
- Suitable for people who want dedicated hosting but don’t have the technical know-how.
- Useful if you want specific software and package installations.
- Like shared hosting, site performance can still be affected by other sites on the server.
- VPS still can’t handle high traffic levels or spikes in usage.
Don’t be confused by the term “cloud hosting,” it’s just a marketing term and can mean different things in different contexts.
In the context of web hosting, it means that many computers are working together and running apps with combined computing resources. It works just like the internet does, allowing website owners to consume as many resources as they need, like with consuming gas and electricity.
- Resources for maintaining your site are spread across more than one web server, reducing the chance of any downtime from server malfunction.
- You pay for what you use.
- Service outages are more frequent than with other hosting options. The reason for that is its internet-based approach, which has some pitfalls.
Managed hosting can cover many different types of hosting plans. One of the most popular subcategories is WordPress managed hosting.
The reason for the popularity of WordPress Managed Hosting is the simplicity of WordPress itself. It’s relatively easy to set up and straightforward to manage.
The demand for managed WordPress hosting mainly comes from the frequent updates and patches released by WordPress. In fact, only about 1/3 of all WordPress installations are updated to the latest version.
It’s essential to test these updates to confirm that they’re working on your website.
Also, as your site grows, you might have to do troubleshooting, find and fix odd problems, or optimize for better performance. WordPress managed hosting fits in here as well.
- Automatic system monitoring to detect and fix common issues before you know anything has happened.
- Many WordPress managed hosting providers do hardware and programming setup, website upkeep, replacing of hardware, specialized help, patches, updates, and checkups.
- Expert advice to help you fix, optimize, maintain your website.
- Choosing a managed hosting provider can be difficult, especially for those without expert knowledge or experience in the market.
- It might be less useful if you just have a basic site that you can handle yourself, or you don’t have a big website with significant traffic coming in.
Now that you know how web hosting works, how do you go about choosing the best option?
The best web hosting service depends on what kind of website you’re running, your budget, technical knowledge, and website goals.
For most businesses, shared hosting is suitable only in the beginning stages, and eventually, you’ll have to look into other hosting options that will improve your visitors’ browsing experience.
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