What is Web Hosting?

What is Web Hosting?

When a hosting provider offers a certain amount of space on a web server for a website to store its files, they are hosting a website. Web hosting allows the files, which compromise a website available for viewing online. All websites will need to be hosted on a server. The amount of space given on a server to a website all depends on the type of hosting. Some of the most common types of hosting are shared, dedicated, reseller and VPS. These are differentiated by the type of technology that is used for the server, the additional services on offer and the level of management provided.

In short, web hosting is basically the process of buying or renting space to house a website on the internet. Website content like CSS, HTML, and images have to be housed on a server in order to be viewed online.

But what exactly is a server? A server is a computer, which connects other web users to your website from absolutely anywhere in the world. As the name gives away, web hosting service providers have the servers, the connectivity, and the associated services in order to host the websites. By offering different hosting plans, they can cover the spectrum of different hosting needs, from small website blogs and vlogs to bigger organizations.

If you would like to create yourself an online presence, having trustworthy web hosting is crucial. There are hundreds of different web hosts available today, offering thousands of varieties of web hosting services. Web hosting plans range from free with limited options to costly web hosting services specialized for business. The plan you choose to go with will all depend primarily on how you decide to use your website and how much you have budgeted for hosting.

By choosing, the right web hosting plan for you or your business will mean having the right access to the right allocation of resources in order to keep your website loading fast and reliable for visitors. Just think about how many businesses these days online operate online, their business leads and sales all come from their websites. If a user lands on a website and there is an issue with the page, maybe it takes too long to load or it does not load at all, potential customers are not going to wait around. They will bounce off the website straight away and find another one that does work properly.

If you are new at working on a website, web hosting and all the related lingo can be quite puzzling to understand. Many people who do not know much about websites or web hosting have gone with the cheapest option or anything that is coupled with their domain name purchase under the mistaken belief that all web-hosting options are exactly the same.

How does web hosting work?

Web hosting happens when the files that make up your website are uploaded onto a web server from a local computer. The server’s resources will be allocated to the websites using it.

The division of server resources will vary depending on the type of hosting plan that you choose. In order to choose the correct hosting plan, you will first need to differentiate between the plans that are available to you. This process does not have to be a complicated one.

Shared hosting is very similar to renting a workstation in a noisy, busy, open-plan office or co-working space. You have all of the modern conveniences like internet connection, desks and some stationary and you also share the workspace with your co-workers which includes the bathroom, printer and kitchen. You will not be able to do any changes or makeovers to the workspace like installing boards etc. This is one os the most common options for launching smaller websites and not really appropriate for the bigger commercial projects.

A vertical private server (VPS) is a great step up from shared hosting. It would be beneficial for a medium-sized business to rent an office space within a business park. With a VPS, users are always isolated from each other. You will still have neighbours but you will be much less dependent on them, and you are allowed to carry out any changes or makeovers that you want as well as organize your workstation on your own. Renting out an entire office building can be compared to hosting on a dedicated server. It is the most costly option and it is much better for websites who value high performance and reliability. Since you are in control of the whole space, you will have much more say over configurations as well as space, however, it will not be worth investing in if you are not going to be using all of the included space.

Web hosting and domain hosting

Once you have bought a domain name, the files that hold all of your website’s content like CSS, HTML, databases, images, etc., will have to be stored together in a location which is connected to the internet – a web server. Once you have uploaded the website files to a hosting company’s web server, the host will then be responsible for delivering the files to users.

We mentioned above that hosting will allow your website to become available for people to visit through their web browser, but how does this process work? The domain name system (DNM) ensures that the website browser connects to the correct computer, which is storing your website files.

What exactly is DNS?

When your web address is typed into someone’s browser, their computer will connect through the internet to a web server, which holds your website files. It locates your domain’s IP address and then directs the user to the correct website. The browser then shows your website information and allows them to browse your web pages at any time.

How do I pick a wen host?

Your selection of a reliable and appropriate web hosting service provider is a very important step in coming online, especially when you are planning to launch a website for your business. A host does not only make your website available to others, but it also offers services related to managing the servers and support, software, speed, bandwidth and so on.

Free web hosting still comes with a cost

Bandwidth allowance

Bandwidth allowance refers to the number of bytes that are required in order to transfer your website to all of your visitors when they browse your web content. Does the selected hosting offer sufficient space for your needs? To give an idea of the usual traffic requirements of a website, most new websites that do not offer music or video on their websites use much less than 3 gigs of bandwidth each month. If you are anticipating quick feature expansion or your needs include video, sound and so on, then you should consider the extra space that you get offered by a paid hosting provider.

If you are trying to decide whether to go for a free host or not, first think about the size of your website and how much traffic you are expecting to have on a monthly basis. There are some free web hosts that impose daily or monthly limits on the number of visitors that your website can have. If you have a lot of videos or images in your content that attracts more visitors that “allowed” per day, week or month, the host will be within its rights to completely disable your website for breach of contract, or in some cases, send you a bill.

Another thing you should consider before you make use of a free hosting provider is that very often, they will impose a maximum size on certain files that you upload. If you want to distribute high-resolution imagery or software, a paid host will be able to offer you the ability to load the bigger file sizes that you need.             

Advertising

Some free hosts may impose advertising on your website in order to cover the costs of providing your website with free space. Most people dislike pop-ups and commercial banners. A website that are full of adverts are generally seen as spammy or low quality, which is a very big put-off. Just to be safe, always read the fine print to see if any ads are expected to appear on your website in exchange for free hosting before you sign up.

Options to upgrade

An important factor to look out for is whether a host offers room for your website to grow. Most new websites are starting on shared hosting packages which are working great these days, however, as you expect your website to continuously grow over the years, you may need to think about getting a more powerful server. See if your host has appropriate plans to upgrade to and that the upgrading process is straightforward.

Why should we pay for web hosting?

 

Uptime (The reliability)

Reliability is crucial when it comes to both free and paid services, but you should only expect any real reliability when you are paying for your hosting. You will most likely want your website to operate 24 hours a day and you will only get this when you are with a web host with trustworthy and reliable servers and stable network connections. Before making your decision, check out the host’s uptime history. You should be able to check their advanced uptime guarantees and read their reviews.

A website that is frequently down or difficult to get onto will lose visitors and potential customers and this can hit your revenue pretty hard. If a user comes across you website, tries to access it and then sees it is unavailable, they will not hesitate to go to a competitors website. A website with slow access is also very frustrating for dedicated visitors.

Bandwidth/Traffic

You should always read and understand any limitations that may be placed on the bandwidth you are using and select an appropriate plan. If your website is going to incorporate audio, video, or any other elements that need a higher level of bandwidth, you will want to be on a plan that best suits your specific needs.

PHP, .htaccess, SSH, MySQL, FTP and so on

  • If you need to install Perl or PHP, you should ensure that you are able to do this without needing the approval of your host. If not, you will have to wait for their approval before you are able to implement or change a feature on your website.
  • Assuming you will want to do things like protecting your website from bandwidth theft and hotlinking, customize your error pages and password-protect your folders, you are going to need to have the ability to modify or create “htaccess” files.
  • SSH access is very useful when it comes to maintaining databases like MySQL and when you want to run a content managing system or run a blog.
  • FTP is a very popular method used to transfer website pages and other files from a local PC to a website hosts PC in order to make it viewable. There are some hosts that do not allow you to design and upload your own pages. Instead, they request that you use their online site builder to design and upload your pages. Unless you are new to it all and have planned a trivial website, you should ensure that you have FTP access or the ability to upload your own pages by browser or email at least.

Control Panel

A control panel is there to allow you to manage different aspects of your websites hosting account yourself. You should expect a control panel when you are working with a commercial host so that you are able to perform everyday maintenance tasks without having to wait for any technical support to many small changes. Having “cPanel” access will provide you with a simple dashboard where you are able to manage account passwords, email addresses and basic server configurations. It can take up a lot of time to go through a technical support operator or be forced into paying additional fees every time you want to perform simple tasks.

Multiple domains hosting

It is quite common to own more than one domain, domains are inexpensive these days, and it is not that easy to resist owning a few of them. In this case, you will need to accommodate more domains with more hosting space. To make the hosting process as simple as possible, it is possible to host multiple domains from a single account. The separate websites hosted on the same account are called add-on domains. Most shared hosting providers will allow add-on domains. We would recommend that you check in advance how they charge for it.

At Hosting 24 we offer a variety of hosting packages. For more information, visit our website on www.hosting24.co.za.

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