Now that the Internet is such a large part of our society, we spend a lot of time browsing websites. If you’re reading this, you already know what a website is. You landed on this website for a reason, right? But, do you know the technicalities of a website?
How can you view a website if an unknown person or team is managing its content? Have you ever thought about this?
Well, to answer all such queries, you need to understand the concept of hosting or Web hosting. Let’s break down everything about hosting such as its purpose, types, and components. Also, you can study the important aspects to look for while choosing a Web hosting service.
Introduction to Web Hosting and Its Purpose
Web hosting refers to a service that makes a website visible to the world through the Internet. Hosting enables a website so that anyone who knows the site name can see it.
So, if I ask you, what is www.google.com, you may either say it’s a website or the name of a website. When you type this name in the URL bar of your browser (regardless of your location), you can view the Google website through the World Wide Web.
That’s the power of hosting. It offers you the ability to check out everything on a website—anytime, anywhere. All you need is a computing device with an Internet connection.
But, what is the need for hosting? Why make a site visible? The purpose of hosting a website is to provide a platform for everyone to display their writings, products, services, or other material they want the world to know.
No other medium has a bigger reach. Technologically, an online presence is important. So, a website hosted on a server is ideal for getting you the much-needed online presence and global reach.
Components of Hosting
Web hosting providers allocate space on servers to host different websites. They use data centers for providing Internet connectivity to your site (as maintained on the server). Either the Web hosts own a server space or take on a lease, so they can offer it to several clients.
When we say a website has a host, it means your site’s set of files and pages are visible through this the server. You may have a single page website or a multi-page website.
Now, how do you control the content and design of your site? Well, the hosting companies even help you with that.
They offer you a back-end control dashboard known as a control panel. You can use this for Web server management, script installation, database management, etc.
You get an account the provider creates, and you access the control panel through an authorized login ID and password.
Depending on the hosting company and the type of plan you choose, you get to use various application or site development platforms. Some popular platforms include Java, PHP, ASP.Net, and so on. Of course, the hosts also extend database support for your site.
Domains, Hosting, or Websites
The different components associated with hosting are in the previous section. The differences between the three major components that make up a website are:
- Domain Name
- Web Hosting Server
- Website Files
The domain name identifies your website, and it helps people to find your site through their computers. Without a domain name, it’s not possible to get hosting for your site. It’s similar to an entry in a telephone directory; people find numbers to connect with each other. Similarly, computers connect to each other using IP addresses.
Your domain name is available on the Internet, and computers can connect to your site by entering your site as “www.yourdomainname.com,” which is on a particular IP address. In other words, computers contact your IP address to get access to your website.
For example, let’s assume you own a company named ABC. You can list a phone number in the phone directory that tells people this number belongs to ABC.
Now, you also have a website for your company ABC, with the domain name ABC.com. This domain information tells your customers that ABC.com is running on the Web server with the IP address: xx.xx.xx.xx. So, a domain helps others to locate and identify your website on the Internet.
The hosting part involves the server that supports your site. It’s nothing but space for your site. It resembles an office space rented for your business. You pay the rent to your Web hosts for using their server space.
It isn’t possible to say what’s more important, the domain or the hosting space. Both are dependent on each other.
For example, if you don’t have a hosting server space, domain is like as a phone out of service. This is because, without the server, you won’t have any space for your website (and its files) to reside.
A set of files that displays products and services to your site visitors represents your website.
At the front, your website files appear as blog articles or forum posts or any product images. But, behind the scene, your provider’s server can read the different types of files and send back the relevant content as Web pages for viewing.
So, to summarize, a visitor willing to check your website enters the domain name. Now, the domain contacts your server through the IP address. The server transmits your site files back to display them in the browser as Web pages. It’s clear that all these three elements are interdependent. Without any one of them, you won’t have a website.
Features to Look for in a Hosting Provider
Now, you know that your Web host plays a significant role in making your website functional. What are the key features that you need to look for while selecting your website hosting provider?
Whether you’re a new website owner or an experienced one, you need to check for reliability and uptime. You need a Web host that has hosted for a while. It should provide you quality services no matter what your hosting plan/package is. As you rent out the server space from your Web hosts, you trust them to offer secure connectivity.
You also need to make sure your website is available at all times for your visitors. This feature is uptime. Most top Web hosts offer a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee. As the Internet reach is global, your visitors can view your site at any time of the day.
So, it’s vital that your site faces minimal downtime. Even when there is a downtime, which is understandable since no site or server will remain up forever, your host should offer you support to bring the site back to normal functioning.
Types of Hosting
Most Web hosting companies offer you various hosting packages according to your requirements. To understand which package suits your site, you need to know the following types of hosting:
For a small website, you may opt for shared hosting. In this case, you share space on the server. Your host will assign a limited amount of resources for your site. The traffic on different sites that share the server space will balance the server load. You can upgrade to a different hosting plan when your site starts receiving more visitors.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
With VPS hosting, the host divides the server resources into virtual servers. They allocate the resources to your website in a manner that doesn’t reflect the underlying hardware. The server to VPS relationship is one to many, that is, one server to many VPSs. They divide resources based on this relationship and with virtualization.
You can get the option to self-manage your VPS hosting account. This means you’re responsible for the maintenance and patchwork of your server.
In this case, there’s no sharing of space or virtualization on the same server. Rather, your site gets a dedicated server for itself with full control.
As a user, you get root access for Linux or even administrator access for a Windows platform. This hosting plan is the most expensive since you get a dedicated server and resources.
You can get managed hosting for your VPS plan or a dedicated plan. Your host maintains most of the shared hosting services.
What does managed hosting mean? It implies that even though you get your server, you don’t get full control over it. In other words, the hosting provider handles the admin tasks for managing your server.
You may process data via FTP or other such tools. You cannot change the server, so there’s no risk of causing any configuration issues.
This is one of the latest hosting platforms. If the computer hardware fails, the other computers in the cloud put your site back up. Cloud hosting offers more reliability and scalability by using the clustered load balanced servers. It’s decentralized.
So, power disruptions or even natural calamities will have minimal impact on cloud-hosted websites. With cloud hosting, you also get the option to pay your host only for the resources you use.
How to Get a Hosting?
You can choose any of the above types of hosting as a hosting provider for your website. There are popular hosting companies that offer free as well as paid hosting plans. In fact, they even offer a free trial period for the paid hosting packages.
So, you can try them and understand whether they meet your hosting requirements. You must also consider the OS, database server, and scripting platforms that come with your hosting account.
You get a complete package from your Web host for making your website visible to the world.
Hope the above information about hosting websites proves useful to you. Thanks for reading!