Have you ever thought about what goes into making a website function? Every website is made up of code that tells your web browser what to display. The collection of files, including the code and multimedia that make up a website, must be stored somewhere. When users visit a web address, their browser will request the files from the location where they are stored and then make a temporary copy of those files to store locally and improve website performance. The storage part is where a web host comes in.
What is Web Hosting
A web host is a provider who maintains a network of servers in a physical location that stores the files for a given website. Each hosting provider can host hundreds of thousands of websites on their servers. When you buy a domain, you will need to sign up for a hosting service to have somewhere to put your website.
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How Website Hosting Works
Hosting providers rent out storage space on their servers to house the data files that makeup websites. Servers are really just a special type of computer that is used to make your website files available on the world wide web. Technically, any computer can function as a server, but the setup is complicated, and it's a lot easier to let a dedicated hosting provider handle the technical side of it for a nominal fee.
Why is Web Hosting Important
In the current age of technology accessibility, nobody has time for websites that don’t work. Your web host is responsible for making sure that your website is available and accessible around the clock. Web hosts also impact other aspects of website performance like speed, which is directly tied to search engine rankings.
What is Domain Hosting?
A website domain is the address of a website or what a user types into the URL bar to retrieve a specific website. Domains are hosted separately from websites by domain registrars. When you buy a domain and connect it to a website, the DNS protocol for the domain will retrieve the website files from the web host and display the appropriate website.
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Types of Web Hosting
There are a handful of different hosting types to serve different needs. Just like some websites are geared towards e-commerce activities, and others are focused on content delivery, different types of web hosts have different purposes. For the best experience, choose a web host based on the purpose of your website.
Shared hosting is where multiple websites share the same hosting service. This is a popular and cost-effective option for many websites. However, the resources may not be suitable for data-intensive websites. Shared hosting can also be more vulnerable to security risks given the number of users who have access to the same directory. And, depending on the size of the provider, it can be less stable if one site on the server experiences a sudden traffic surge.
Virtual private servers (VPS) are another type of shared server that provides dedicated resources for each client. This type will be more stable than regular shared hosting because your site traffic is not competing with the server resources of any other website. You can typically choose between managed and unmanaged VPS services. Keep in mind that there is a lot of technical upkeep on unmanaged services. If you are not savvy with technology, stick with a managed option. VPS hosting is popular for those who want root access, security, and a high level of scalability without the need to change hosts.
Cloud hosting distributes storage across multiple web servers. These hosting solutions are great for limiting risks associated with local server issues. Compared to physical hosting options, cloud-based hosting provides the best performance when handling traffic surges. It is a good option for medium and large-sized businesses that need maximum uptime and scalability. But the pricing is higher than physical hosting, and most providers make it confusing to understand what you are paying for.
How to Choose a Hosting Service
Many people get hung up on price, but the thing you should look at when comparing hosting services is actually speed. Loading speed has a big impact on the user experience. Most users will leave if a page takes longer than three seconds to load. So a slow web host will cost you business in lost traffic and hurt your search engine rankings.
After speed, the next consideration is uptime. Having a website that goes down even for a few minutes is not ideal. For many businesses, every minute the website is not accessible, it is losing money. Most hosting providers will offer an uptime guarantee that should be around 99.9% of uptime. Some hosts will offer monitoring tools or alerts to let you know when your site is down. If you can find those tools, that’s a bonus!
And, of course, security is always important. At a minimum, make sure your hosting provider offers SSL certificates, necessary for protecting your data and any personal information you collect from visitors.
Web Hosting in a Nutshell
Having a website takes more than buying a domain. You need to create the files that make up your web pages, including code, text, and multimedia. And, you need to find a secure and reliable home for that data to live. Most starter websites use a shared hosting service, while larger businesses use a combination of VPS hosting and cloud-based hosting. If you are in the market for a web host, keep in mind that speed, accessibility, and security are all important factors to the performance of your website.
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