How does Web Hosting Work?

How does web hosting work
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Written by Simon

Last Updated 17/12/2023

The PODTech Team is often asked by beginners: What is hosting and how does it work?

A common mistake to make is confusing a domain name with a website hosting. In this guide, we will explore the relationship between domain name & web hosting to see how these two work together to deliver your website.

What Is Web Hosting?

To put it simply, web hosting is like a house for your website’s information. Many hosting providers offer a wide range of services associated with web hosting, but in essence, it is a server. A server is a kind of computer that stores all your website’s important information remotely and sends this to your computer’s browser when you visit a website.

If you’re looking at starting your very own website, web hosting and related terminology can sound like another language. Hopefully, this article will shed some light on some of these nuances. 

How Does A Host Work?

To understand how a web host works, we need to have a basic understanding of domain names and how your information is served from a web server. For more information on this topic, visit our Domain Name for Beginners article linked below.

Recommended Reading: What is a Domain Name?

Web hosting happens when files that make up your website are uploaded from your computer (local computer) onto a ‘web server’. This web server depends on three main resources to serve your website: RAM, hard drive space, and bandwidth. How these resources are allocated and distributed, depends completely on your hosting provider and plans that are available.

What Are The Types Of Web Hosting?

If you reimagine the server as your house, each room has its own pros and cons. Just as the kitchen is better suited for cooking and the living room for relaxing, different servers have features that suit different website such as blogs, e-commerce etc. There are three main options for server types. To understand these better, let’s pretend we’re studying for an exam.

House floor plan drawing comparison to different types of hosting

Shared Hosting 

Think of shared hosting as the loudest, busiest room in your house with people coming in and out constantly. In the same way you’re sharing the space with other websites, their activity in this space will effect your website’s load time.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) 

VPS is the next step up in your pursuit for a room to study in. Think of this server as your very own bedroom. The setup is more suited for your needs, you have a work space and no ones running in and out. There is however, Darren, your noisy younger brother, playing loud music next door. For most medium-sized businesses this is ideal – you have more control on your space and can organise your files how you want.

Dedicated Server 

You’ve signed your lease and the banks have approved the mortgage. Congratulations, you’re a homeowner! Dedicated servers mean you no longer have to share the house with Darren and you have more control over configurations.

Cloud Hosting

The most recent newcomer to the market is Cloud Hosting, and it’s been a hit! This type of hosting operates across many interconnected servers that can offer affordable, scalable and reliable infrastructure. These cloud hosting plans offer unmetered, reliable bandwidth and an infinite amount of disk space for unlimited domains. 

How Do I Choose A Web Host?

When choosing a web host, it’s best to look at what your business needs. Different plans offer a wide range of specifications and often come with free add-ons. For example, all our web hosting plans come with a free SSL certification installed as standard. But ultimately, what it boils down to is the specification coupled with the customer support.

Identify a host that has great server security and won’t restrict your traffic/bandwidth. You need a host that can deliver your site quickly and securely. PODTech knows how important this is which is why we offer top-notch server security, 24/7 uptime, as well as unmetered traffic to all our clients.

Why Pay For Web Hosting When Others Are Free?

The most important thing to remember is that Free Web Hosting Comes At A Cost!

As the overused saying goes:

Nothing in life is free.

Wise Person

I think a more accurate way to put this is that nothing worthwhile in life is free.

Most ‘free’ hosting providers offer a ‘free-of-charge’ hosting plan for their clients. At first this sounds too good to be true…well that’s because it is. What their clients don’t understand is that their website information isn’t strictly theirs and belongs to the hosting provider.

So what you might say? What this means is that you can never transfer the information of their servers. Initially this might not sound like a bad thing, because it’s free, right? Free hosting providers tend to have extremely poor specifications as well as not having features like e-commerce included as part of the ‘free plan’. And you guessed it, once you’ve spent hours building and marketing your site and need to take the next step to e-commerce or need fast reliable speeds, these ‘add-ons’ are now charged over and above the market rate.

What makes things worse is that you now can’t take your data and host it with a more reliable provider that doesn’t charge the earth. So if you ever want to leave your free host, you could lose your domain name and you will have to build your website from scratch.

So why pay for web hosting?

It’s really quite simple:

  • The information is yours
  • You can leave any time after your fixed term
  • Reliability (Uptime)
  • Larger Bandwidth/Traffic allowance
  • PHP, .htaccess, SSH, MySQL, FTP
  • Control Panel
  • Multiple Domains Hosting
  • Cheaper in the long run
  • Professional domain emails
  • Technical support who know what their doing

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