When you get a website developed you might hear your chosen web design company mention something about website hosting. If you are building a website yourself, you will most likely start out by looking for website hosting. In this article we explore what website hosting is.
In short: Website hosting is a service offering that enables people who have a website to put it on the internet and make it available for visitors to engage with.
Hosting and service providers
A website hosting provider, sometimes called a service provider, offers space and specialised software on a dedicated computer, connected to the Internet. This computer (or server) makes it possible for the content of a website to be stored and viewed in an expected way to anyone visiting the website.
Whether you develop it yourself or someone else does, a website needs to live somewhere so it can be viewed. This is known as hosting.
Different types of hosting exist. These are distinguished by the technology that is used for the server, the management level provided, as well as the additional services on offer by a specific website hosting service provider. The most common types of hosting are shared hosting, dedicated hosting and VPS hosting. In both instances the hosting provider manages access to where the servers or computers are physically or geographically stored.
Shared web hosting is when your website is placed on the same server as many other sites. Think of it like your office in an open plan environment. The websites all share the server’s resources such as memory and computing power. This type of website hosting is usually offered with additional basic services covering things like the amount of disk space that can be used and a set number of email addresses. It is usually offered in a tiered structure that is fixed. If more resources or features are needed then the next tier offering would be used at a greater cost. It is up to the website developer to decide on the best tier for the hosting when the website is first built.
Dedicated hosting is when you get access to an entire server and do not share it or its resources with anyone else’s website. This is the most expensive option and is chosen when the website is very busy or is for a large corporate, like a bank, who needs complete control of their server. The client is fully responsible for all security, software and maintenance of the dedicated server.
VPS hosting (where the VPS stands for Virtual Private Server) is the middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. Think of it like having an entire floor of your own in the building. You still share resources with others in the building but you are not in an open plan environment where you share the floor space. This option also requires less technical expertise to set up and maintain.
Self-managed hosting or built into the package
If you are building your own website using a service like GoDaddy, Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, or WordPress.com, they will offer hosting built in as part of the website design and development process.
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