The World Wide Web is home to a whopping 1.9 billion websites. That’s how saturated the online world has become.
Granted, only 200 million of these websites are active and working. But that means you still got millions of other sites to beat in order to rank better on search results.
Online marketing, like search engine optimization (SEO), isn’t the only way to rock the ranks. Before you can even optimize your sites and pages, you first need a powerful service to host your website.
Enter web hosting services.
- So, what is web hosting exactly?
- What does it bring to the table?
We’ll let you in on the details and what makes for a solid web host, so be sure to keep reading.
What is Web Hosting? A 40-Word Explanation
What is web hosting and how does it work?
At its core, web hosting is the service that allows Internet users to access websites and web pages. Web hosts provide a storage location — known as a web server — for a website and all its pages online.
Breaking Down Web Hosting Further
Here’s a better way to answer your question, “What is a web hosting service?”:
You want to create a website, comprised of many web pages. Each of your to-be-created web pages has files in them (like text, images, videos, etc.). This “collection” of pages and files, as soon as you put them together and launch them online, is your website.
But before you can collate your pages under one website, you first need a place where you can store them online. That’s where a web server (think of it as a gigantic online storage unit) comes into play. The “landlord” of this storage unit is what you call a “web host.”
The service provided by a web host is what you then call web hosting. In essence, it’s the service that allows you to store all your files (your web pages and your entire website) on the web.
Why You Can’t Host Your Own Website
So, if web hosting’s primary function is storage, why not be your own “host?” After all, you may have terabytes and terabytes of physical storage at home or in the office.
Keep in mind that websites are for public use and access. Now, consider that there are now over 5 billion Internet users worldwide. In the United States alone, almost nine in ten people access the Internet.
If you were to host your own website, you need equipment with super storage capabilities. You need out-of-this-world computing power to cater to all those people who may visit your site.
In other words, your personal computer and hard drives don’t have this kind of hosting prowess. Besides, you also need a powerful Internet connection to keep your website up at all times.
That’s why you need a reliable web hosting service. These companies are the only ones with supercomputers designed for website storage.
Going back to our storage unit example, you can think of web hosting as something similar. A web host “rents” or “sells” online storage space for your website and all its components.
Whether you have exclusive access to this space depends on the type of hosting service you get. You can either share the space with others or have it for your own.
In this case, you can think of web hosting as a dormitory-type hostel, a private hotel room, or an entire house.
Shared hosting is much like a dorm-style hostel, where you share the space (server) with others. This can range from dozens to hundreds of other sites. It’s the cheapest hosting option, but it’s also the least reliable.
That’s because all the websites share the host’s resources, including RAM and CPU power. This “competition” for resources then puts your site performance at risk, especially if there’s a spike in traffic.
This is why downtimes are some of the most common hosting issues in shared environments. They’re a problem you want to avoid at all costs.
Remember, every second your site is down is a potential win for your competition. After all, your potential customers won’t keep waiting for your site to be back up. In fact, they won’t wait longer than three seconds for your page to load before abandoning your site.
More Privacy with VPS Hosting
In a hotel room, you have your own facilities and you get to enjoy much more privacy. You share only the entire hotel building, but not your “living” space.
You can think of virtual private server (VPS) hosting as something like a private hotel room. The web server is like the hotel building, divided into rooms. In web hosting, these “rooms” are what you call virtual private servers.
VPS acts much like a dedicated server, in a shared environment. You only pay for a smaller part of the entire server, the facilities of which you have exclusive access to. You still share the server, but only with a few other websites.
That said, you can expect better site performance with a VPS than shared hosting. You can also worry less about security issues since there are far fewer websites it caters to. You also have greater control, such as root access, to your “rented” space.
The best part is, you get to enjoy almost the same benefits of dedicated servers, for less.
The All-for-You Dedicated Server Hosting
For the greatest level of control over your web server needs, a dedicated server is what you need. In this case, you rent an entire server and your website is the only thing stored in it.
Sounds awesome, right? Well, it is. But it’s also the most expensive of all your hosting options.
Unless your website is like Google or other giant sites, you don’t have an actual need for a dedicated server. In fact, dedicated servers are only perfect for websites needing supercomputing powers.
Ensure Your Website is Up and Running 99.99% of the Time
Now that you know what is web hosting, you have a better idea on which type of service is best for your site. Keep in mind, however, that there are several other factors to consider when choosing a host.
Things like storage space, bandwidth, and security are only a few of them. You also want to make sure your host has a solid reputation for 99.99% uptime.
Worry not, as we have guides covering these topics as well. Check out our blog’s web hosting section to get insider info on them.