What is Web Hosting?

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What is Web HostingBefore we start building a blog or website, let’s go through some fundamental knowledge on what is web hosting all about first.

Basically, web hosting is a service offered by hosting companies who help to store your website files on their server(s). This server or special computer is expected to connect 24/7 to the internet every day & night so that internet users can visit your website anytime, anywhere.

Having said that, when comes to creating a website online, web hosting is inseparable from a domain name.

What does that mean?

Think of web hosting as a house and domain name as an address. For visitors to reach our website, we need to have both our house (or website content) built and address (or website URL) registered. Lacking either one would be impossible for the visitors to view our website.

For instance, what you’re reading now is the web content that we stored on our web host (i.e. InMotion Hosting), which connects to our registered domain name at thebloggingtips.com.

In other words, at the very least, we need a web host and a domain name to bring our website online. Is that clear?

Types of Web Hosting Services

Broadly speaking, there are 4 different types of web hosting services available in the market today:

  • Shared Hosting;
  • Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting;
  • Dedicated Hosting; and
  • Cloud Hosting

While all types of web hosting services could bring our website online, they do differ in terms of storage capacity, server speed, level of server controls, technical knowledge requirement and reliability.

Okay, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each web hosting type below.

What is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting simply means all the resources of a server (e.g. operating system, RAM, bandwidth, CPU time etc) are shared among the users under the same hosting plan. Typically, shared hosting plan doesn’t allow root access to the server.

What is Root Access?

Advantages:

  • Low cost;
  • Minimal technical knowledge required for setting up a website as it usually comes with one-click installation feature for popular platforms like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc; and
  • Suitable for new website with low traffic at the start.

Disadvantages:

  • No root access, no controls to the server’s files;
  • Limited ability to handle large amount of traffic or traffic spikes;
  • High numbers of users; and
  • Activities from other sites on the same server can affect your site performance.

What is Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting?

In VPS hosting, the main server is divided into a few partitioned servers which are assigned to the respective users. The main server’s resources are still on a sharing basis but at a lower density environment. Thus, it gives better performance as compared to shared hosting.

Generally, VPS users will have root access to their respective partitioned servers and they can run their own desired operating system.

Advantages:

  • Root access to own partitioned server;
  • Lesser shared users on the same server;
  • A good bridge between shared hosting and dedicated hosting;
  • Less expensive than dedicated hosting;
  • Better security and privacy as it usually comes with unique IP address; and
  • Suitable for users who want dedicated hosting features at a lower scale and cost.

Disadvantages

  • More expensive than shared hosting;
  • Limited ability to handle high level of traffic or traffic spikes; and
  • Activities from other sites on the same server can still affect your site performance.

What is Dedicated Hosting?

In dedicated hosting environment, you rent an entire server from the hosting company and no one else is sharing your server’s resources. Literally, you can do whatever you want on the server as long as it’s legitimate and within the server capacity.

Advantages:

  • Full control to the server;
  • No sharing of server’s resources with other users;
  • It usually comes with unique IP address which gives higher level of security and privacy.
  • Website’s performance and reliability are independent from other users; and
  • Suitable for users who requires full control to the server and better web performance experience.

Disadvantages:

  • High cost as compared to other traditional hosting plans; and
  • Requires extensive technical knowledge and skills to manage the server.

What is Cloud Hosting?

As opposed to traditional hosting services like shared, VPS or dedicated hosting which stores your website on a single server, cloud hosting actually hosts your site on multiple servers instead.

How it works is each server in the cloud will be assigned a particular set of tasks, and in case of failure of any of the server(s) in the cloud, other server(s) will temporarily kick-in as a back-up to render the resources required.

Advantages:

  • High reliability as website is hosted on multiple servers;
  • Easier data backup and recovery;
  • More scalable and flexible to handle huge amount of traffic or traffic spikes; and
  • Suitable for small, medium to large businesses who want to have peace of mind on their server uptime and performance.

Disadvantages:

  • Most cloud hosting setup do not offer root access;
  • Depending on your requirements, it can be higher cost than dedicated hosting; and
  • Prone to attack as your data is scattered around the cloud and would expose to more security risk.

Key Takeaways

Again, there is no one-size-fits-all solution in web hosting. At the end of the day, it’s your hosting needs that determine the type of web hosting services to choose.

By now, you should have grabbed the basic understanding of what is web hosting all about. If you need more guidance, here are some tips for you on how to pick the right host.