What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is a service that allows businesses and people to upload their own websites to the internet. Providers offer server space that gives individuals and organizations the opportunity to build and share their own websites with users from all around the world. These service providers have the technology and technical expertise to host your site on servers that make it accessible via the internet.
Web hosting allows internet users to enter your web address and easily access your site right away. But web hosting often offers business owners and individuals additional benefits for subscribing to their services. Providers typically offer round-the-clock technical support, site building tools and guidance, and assistance with purchasing a domain name.
If you’re looking to build a site for your online store or business, you’ll first need to find a hosting service that will get your site up and running. Then you can start designing, customizing, and improving your site for a wide audience of prospective customers.
How does Web Hosting Work?
All websites on the internet are hosted on servers. This means that the underlying data that supports each unique site is stored on large physical servers that a service provider manages. When an internet user visits your individual site, their device is connecting to the server that hosts your site. That means web hosting is a critical first step to getting your company’s site out into the world.
Hosting service providers manage the servers that store your site, making sure that your site is accessible in exchange for a monthly or annual fee. When you subscribe to a web hosting service, you are essentially purchasing space on the server instead of having to worry about the maintenance and technical skill required to keep the server running smoothly.
Professional web hosting services allow business owners to leave the technical work to the experts, giving them more time to focus on managing the other aspects of their business. Subscribing to a web hosting service is an essential stage to getting your business’s site accessible on the internet.
When internet users view your site, they must enter a unique domain name that marks your website’s location. Many site owners will register their domain name with a third-party domain host who stores and manages domain names. Third-party domain hosts allow you to create a custom domain name that will make sure users can easily find your site. When you own your own domain name, you can switch hosting providers without as much hassle.
Ultimately, these two services must work together to offer the seamless internet experience we all enjoy. When you register a custom domain name with a domain host, you must then connect it to your hosted site so that viewers will be able to access your page. That means that visitors who type in your unique domain name will now be able to view the content hosted by your web hosting service provider.
How to Pick a Web Host
Selecting a web host depends highly on your business’s individual needs, preferences, and budget. There are fees associated with web hosting that can range depending on the plan or provider you select. Different plans and providers will offer different features and can cater to different site-building experience levels.
Here are some of the key things to keep in mind when choosing a web host:
How much traffic your site gets
Busier sites will need larger storage capacities and higher bandwidth to give customers seamless viewing and shopping experiences. Hosting providers generally determine their fees based on your storage and bandwidth consumption, so you should have a good idea of how much traffic your site typically generates.
Your comfort and experience level with site management
If you’ve never built or managed a website before, it’s important to choose a web host that you can trust with readily available customer support or even site management services so that you’re not on your own with software problems or security issues. If you have some more experience, then you might be able to scale down to a hosting provider that gives you some more flexibility with your site.
The monthly or annual cost to get your site up and running
Web hosting costs can range widely, from a couple dollars a month to hundreds if you need more services. Be sure to evaluate what features you need so that you can stay in your budget.
The type of server a host provider uses
Different servers lead to different performance levels. You’ll need to know which kind of server best matches your expectations for your site so that you can satisfy your customers.
Free web hosting comes with a cost
Some service providers offer free web hosting services for those who are looking to build a site. Many site-builders are excited to start using free web hosting services since they are trying to keep costs low and stay within their budget.
Unfortunately, free web hosting isn’t always what it seems. While some platforms allow you to host your site for free, there are usually other costs that crop up in order to make your site more user-friendly. Paid upgrades are a common requirement if you want some basic features that will help your site run smoothly.
Some common downsides of free web hosting are:
- Low bandwidth (which means longer site loading times for your customers)
- A limited number of pages on your site
- External ads that you don’t necessarily want on your page
- Minimal customer or technical support if there are any issues
Free web hosting is an option, but it might not be the best for your business.
Why pay for web hosting?
If you want a high-quality site that brings customers into your store, you’ll want to pay for your web hosting services. When you subscribe to a web hosting service, you’re ensuring that users will find a smoothly functioning site that can handle traffic.
Luckily, with web hosting, you can scale your service based on what you need. If you have a small business with a tight budget, you can make decisions based on how much bandwidth and storage you really need, which will help you reign in unnecessary expenses. Then you can look forward to faster loading times and a smoother customer experience.
What are Types of Web Hosting?
There are several different types of servers that web host providers can use to get your site on the internet. Here are your main options when you’re ready to select a service provider:
Instead of subscribing to web host service, collocated hosting means you purchase your own server to be stored at a hosting facility. You manage the server and have the freedom to install whatever programs you want. You will, however, have to handle the cost of the server maintenance alone and may not have access to the same degree of technical support if things go wrong.
Cloud-based hosting runs through a network across multiple servers, which reduces the need for extensive computing infrastructure. With cloud-based hosting, resources are scalable, meaning you can purchase and pay for only what you need.
Shared hosting means your site is stored on a shared server. Other site owners share the same server as you, which can help reduce maintenance costs and subscription fees since the fee is split between users. It can also lead to slower loading and processing speeds for your site, though.
With dedicated hosting, you have your own server, without having to share with other users. Since the server is entirely dedicated to your site, you can expect faster processing speeds, but you’ll also have to shoulder the monthly cost alone. If you have an especially elaborate or complex site or expect high volumes of traffic, dedicated hosting might be your best option. Dedicated hosting can also offer more advanced security.