A Beginner’s Guide to Web Hosting

What is web hosting? Whenever you visit a website, what you see on your web browser is essentially just a web page that is downloaded from the web server onto your web browser. In general, a web site is made up of many web pages. And a web page is basically composed of texts and graphic images. All these web pages need to be stored on the web servers so that online users can visit your website.

Therefore, if you plan to own a new website, you will need to host your website on a web server. When your website goes live on the web server, online users can then browse your website on the Internet. Company that provides the web servers to host your website is called web hosting providers.

A well-established web hosting provider sometimes hosts up to thousands of websites. For that reason, a web hosting company needs many web servers (essentially, these are computers) to ‘store’ the website. And all these web servers are connected to the Internet through high speed Internet connection and housed in a physical building called ‘data center’. In order to guarantee all the web servers are safe, secure and fully operational all time, a data center is a physically secure 24/7 environment with fire protection, HVAC temperature control, virus detections, computer data backup, redundant power backup and complete disaster recovery capabilities.

What are the different types of web hosting services? There are numerous web hosting companies out there with different offerings, but mainly they fall under two categories:

Shared Hosting
In shared hosting (also known as virtual web hosting), many websites are sharing the space on the same physical web servers. Depending on the web host, a physical web server can host a few hundred to even thousands of different websites at one time. You may wonder if a physical web server is shared by so many websites will the performance of the web server deteriorate. In fact, web servers are usually equipped with high-end powerful hardware that can support a large number of websites without any problems. But, when the web server is overloaded, you may begin to experience slower response times and your site may even become completely inaccessible for longer periods of time.

However, a reputable and experienced web hosting provider will constantly monitor the performance of its web servers and will add new equipment as necessary. Since the physical hardware, such as hard disks, CPUs, bandwidth and memory, is shared amongst many websites, the web hosting provider can afford to lower its prices. For the same reason, websites on the shared hosting plans are increasingly vulnerable to performance and security problems as compared to dedicated hosting plans.

Dedicated Hosting
Dedicated hosting refers to plans that assign a single customer to a specific web server. Since a dedicated web server is allocated to only a single customer, the customer has the option to host single/multiple web sites, modify the software configuration, handle greater site traffic and scale the bandwidth as necessary. Therefore, dedicated hosting is typically used by high traffic and business critical websites. Since dedicated hosting plans have become very affordable it is prudent for any business that relies at least partly on its website to be operational to purchase a dedicated hosting plan. For additional support and peace of mind it is also advised to purchase a managed services plan to support and maintain the dedicated server and the software it hosts.

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