What is Web Hosting? — Ultimate Guide to Web Hosting

Avinash Chandra
Apr 4, 2018 · 11 min read

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Web Hosting is a service that provides technology to enable visibility of a website on the internet. These services are provided by Web host. Web host are companies with large computers (called servers due to their large data processing capability) connected with internet.

Therefore web hosting is powered by internet. It allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible from all over the world on the click of a button.

What is Host?

A Web host is an organization that sells or leases memory space on its servers. Web hosting is typically done in a data center, which provides services to clients that enable them to publish websites on the Internet.

A Web host can also provide data center space and an Internet connection for servers owned by others. The service provided by a Web host is called Web hosting.

A Web host may be either an Internet service provider (ISP), or a company that specifically provide a Web hosting service. Examples would be such as GoDaddy, BlueHost etc. Small personal websites are free or almost-free, while business websites are much more expensive. (1)

Types of Web hosting Services

When visitors want to view your website, all they need to do is type your website address or domain into their web browser. Their computer will then connect to your server and your webpages will be delivered to them through the browser.

Most hosting companies require that you own your domain (for example yourdomain.com) in order to host with them. If you do not have a domain, the hosting companies will help you purchase one or even provide you with a custom domain which is a subdomain of their service. Such as xxxxx.wordpress.com, where xxxxx is the part of the url that you get to choose.

So here is a list of the various types of hosting services that are out there

1. Shared Hosting

Numerous sites are hosted on the same server. Shared hosting services are affordable and are also referred to as cheap web hosting because the cost to operate & maintain the server is shared between multiple owners. Shared hosting though economical has many disadvantages, such as being slower and not being able to provide a dedicated ip address to each website on the server. This is the right choice for new businesses and websites.

2. Reseller Hosting

Clients are allowed to be Web hosts themselves.

3. Dedicated server hosting

This kind of hosting allows full control of the server to the client. The server is usually leased by the client annually.

Dedicated server hosting allows for faster performance, as you have all the server’s resources entirely, without sharing with multiple website owners unlike shared hosting.

However, this also means that since the server is all yours the cost of operation of the entire server is yours alone. This kind of hosting is significantly more expensive than shared hosting. This is a good choice for popular high traffic websites that require a lot of system resources, and a higher level of security.

4. Managed Hosting

The managed hosting client does not keep full control of the server. In most cases, quality of the service such as server optimization for speed and security are the responsibilities of the managed hosting provider. The user may manage data using FTP or other remote management tools.

5. Website Builders

Website builder services is a type of hosting service that is suitable for green horn beginners who need to host a website, but lack any technical skills and knowledge, what so ever to create one from scratch or even use a CMS (content management system).

In fact even hosting any popular CMS requires some amount of familiarity with the hosting environment. Website builder services typically provides the client with an online browser-based interface to build a website. It also hosts the website it helps build for the client without any additional setup or cost.

You can read here more about free website builders available. Do remember that they are best suited for beginners to experiment. For all those who want to become professional bloggers getting familiar with all the terms in is article is important.

6. Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting is a new type of hosting and has become very popular in the last few years. It is an alternative to hosting websites on a single server (either dedicated or shared server) and can be considered as an extension of the concept of clustered hosting where a single website is hosted on multiple servers.

Websites hosted on the cloud are accessible anytime, anywhere. This means that hosting resources for each website are replicated on every cloud server in the cluster.

Cloud server hosting is affordable because charges are only for the resources used. Most cloud server hosting costs are measured per hour to provide the most control over the hosting budget. Cloud servers scale with incredible speed. You can expand or reduce servers in seconds to ensure that the server keeps up with demand without wasting money on unnecessary resources.

Cloud server hosting is more reliable and keeps your content safe. By distributing server data across redundant servers, information hosted in the cloud is protected against hardware failure. Automated backups and snapshots ensure that server content stays safe and up-to-date.(2)

7. VPS hosting

VPS (Virtual Private Servers) Hosting, sometimes also known as “Private Cloud”, is based on servers which are crafted using virtualization mechanism.

VPS hosting is generally less efficient since it allocates a specified amount of computing resources to each client. Hence, if the requirement increases, the system would not be able to handle the additional inflow. It will simply crash. Same would be the case if the server malfunctions. (3)

Cloud hosting is generally considered superior in performance and scalability to VPS hosting.

What is a Domain Name Server (DNS)

Each device connected to the Internet has a unique IP address which other machines use to find the device. DNS servers eliminate the need for humans to memorize IP addresses such as 192.168.1.1 (in IPv4), or more complex newer alphanumeric IP addresses such as 2400:cb00:2048:1::c629:d7a2 (in IPv6). (4)

In layman terms, every computer on the Internet has a unique address, called an IP address. A typical IP address looks like this: 148.123.456.7

Now imagine that you had to memorize 234.455.345.9 and 876.653.123.7 instead of lets say amazon.com and flipkart.com. Imagine all web addresses were just numbers! Mind boggling!

Yep, it would have been very difficult to memorize the IP addresses of all the websites we visit daily. Words, however, are easier to remember than strings of numbers. This is where domain names come into the picture.

When you visit a website, all you need to know is its URL. DNS servers helps us convert the URL into an IP address that the computer can understand.

So, when you type in domain.com into your browser, the browser first needs to get the IP address of www.somedomain.com. The browser then contacts a DNS server to query the location of the server where the webpages are stored. A DNS server is like a directory service of IP address.

Shared hosting provides a shared IP address to multiple websites on the shared server. Because the IP address of a website is used for multiple sites on the shared server, the actions of one site owner on this server can affect the IP reputation of everyone sharing that IP on that server. For example, if an IP address is blacklisted for sending SPAM email, this will blacklist emails for all sites on the shared host server, using that shared IP address.

Which Web Server to choose — Linux or Windows?

While linux and windows web servers are functionally equivalent, choosing any one depends on what are your hosting needs are.

Both platforms differ in cost. Ease of use, versatility and stability also differ for both of them. Price and comfortability with the platform should decide your choice as Windows costs more than Linux.

Linux is great for running scripts written in PHP, Perl, Python and other Unix-originated languages. It also supports MySQL and PostgreSQL databases.

Windows is great for running ASP scripts and utilizing .NET and other Microsoft technologies. It supports Microsoft SQL Server and Access database.

If your website does not require any Microsoft Technologies such as ASP or .NET, you should choose Linux hosting because it is more economical.

Which is the best hosting? Shared hosting or Dedicated?

Before you make a decision, you need to understand what your hosting needs are, as these hosting services differ vastly in terms of performance and cost.

Shared Hosting

In a shared hosting environment, multiple websites are put on a single shared server. This allows the shared web hosting provider to reduce the cost of services for small businesses and startups with budget limitations. Limitations on shared server hosting include limits on storage and bandwidth. Speed & performance of your website is dependent on the needs of the other websites, as you will be sharing the same server resources. Shared hosting service is ideal for new, small or development stage websites that do not require a lot of bandwidth, disk storage or CPU consumption.

Dedicated Server Hosting

In a dedicated server hosting environment, only one website is hosted on the dedicated server. And because you are not sharing server resources with multiple websites, your resources limits are unlimited meaning your millets are the same as that of the server. Dedicated server hosting service is for people who run a popular and high traffic website, that requires a lot of resources like disk space, and run scripts that requires extensive CPU consumption.

Can I host my website on my personal computer?

Yes, you can.

But before you do so, there are limitations you need to take into consideration:

  1. You should know how to setup a WWW server software on your computer. This is a software that allows Internet users to access the web files on your computer.
  2. You will need to investigate the bandwidth quota allotted to you by your Internet service provider before you decide to run websites from your home computer.
  3. Your computer must stay on and connected to the internet at all times. Every time you turn off or reboot your computer, your website will become unavailable.
  4. Your website will load slowly as home internet connections are not designed for serving web pages to a large number of visitors.
  5. You will be responsible for the performance and possible security risks for your home computer and website.

Features of a Hosting Plan

Now that you know all about web hosting, and have probably decided the best one for you, I have here a list of features that you must evaluate before you invest in hosting.

1. Disk Space

All hosting accounts offer a certain amount of disk space that you can use to store your web files. It is recommended that you have some sort of estimate on what you will need for you web application or website and what your preferred web host will provide. You need to think about space for emails, web files, database and more. By breaking down your usage, you can better estimate how much space you will need. A 5GB disk space is considered sufficient for a new average sized website with enough space for emails, web files and database.

2. Bandwidth

What is bandwidth? It’s the amount of data that your host will let you and your visitors upload and download (cumulatively) in a given month. Say your website is 1 megabyte of data and your monthly bandwidth is 10 MB. At the beginning of the month, you upload the entire site; now you’ve used up one MB of bandwidth. If a visitor to your site views every page, they will have downloaded 1MB of data. That means you can have up to 9 visitors in that month (assuming each views your whole site). After that, your web host will either not allow any more visitors, or (more likely) charge you extra per MB. Of course, your bandwidth is something you’ll want to keep an eye on, especially if you run a fairly popular site or do something media intensive (like host your own video, or high-res photos). (5)

3. Uptime

It is the percentage of time the Web host server is actually connected to the Internet, thus allowing access to the websites it hosts at all times. Most reliable web hosts provide uptime of more than 99 percent, with about 45 minutes of downtime per month for maintenance.

4. Support

This is one of the most important considerations before selecting your web host. You need to find out exactly what your prospective host offers for technical support. Do they have a call centre, can you call them? At what times? Do they have a support email address? What are their response times? Do they have a ticket system? How about a live chat? Do they have articles / tutorials for simple queries and setups? Don’t choose a host until you know exactly what kind of support they offer!

5. Email Accounts

Email accounts are a common feature of popular hosting companies, especially if you are hosting a domain. There are three main types of email accounts: POP3, forwarding, and aliases.
POP3 accounts are the traditional inboxes. You can use the space on your server to store your emails, and at the same time. You may use an email client to download your mail.

6. FTP Access

At some time or the other, you will need to transfer the web files of your website from your computer to your web server or vice versa. These files are transferred to and from the server by use of FTP (file transfer protocol) using an FTP client like filezilla or putty.

7. Pre-Installed Apps or one click installs

Often the technical aspects of managing a website can become tough. However most popular and reputed web hosting services provide easy installation of popular content management systems such as wordpress, drupal, joomla, magento etc to name a few.(6)

Look for a web host that offers a one-click install (or at least a super easy set-up) for WordPress or any other CMS of your choice.

8. Free bonuses to look out for

Reputed web hosts provide a many other features with hosting plans. Some of the key features are unlimited free email accounts, unlimited free sub domains, unlimited add on domains that allows you to host more than 1 site. Some also provide regular backups and free SSL certificates along with a free domain registration.

Many popular hosting services will give all or most of the above free bonuses bundled into one hosting subscription.

I hope I have covered all the essential points of web hosting for users looking to make a choice. Please share this useful and detailed post with your friends. And do leave your comments and feedback below.

FAQ

1 What is shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is Web hosting in which the service provider serves pages for multiple Web sites, each having its own Internet domain name, from a single Web server. Most Web hosting companies provide shared hosting.

2 What is reseller hosting?

Reseller hosting is a web hosting option in which a hosting provider (generally with big infrastructure) rents their servers, hard drive space and bandwidth to another company (of smaller size but with geographical depth in a specific locality) to host thir party websites.

Reseller hosting is like re-renting a server space to individuals of companies looking to host their websites. Generally aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start hosting services or website developers with large client base become reseller host.

3 How to start a hosting reseller business?

By making use of reseller hosting plans one can start web hosting business.

Follow the steps below to start a hosting reseller business:

1. Choose the Right Reseller Hosting Plan: You need flexibility to earnamrk server resources as per your clients requirement. Depending on your understanding of market opportunity you can decide the resources you need. You need to consider the reliability and reputation of the hosting services provider.

2. Create killer Hosting Plans
Create your hosting plan to ensure that you fulfill clients needs and are differet from your competitors.

3. Promote, Promote and Promote as if there is no tomorrow


Originally published at www.avinashchandra.com on April 4, 2018.

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