Last updated: February 11, 2018
A straightforward explanation of what is web hosting, in spite of the existence of numerous definitions, should articulate that no one could access a web page online without a web host. Web hosting, which can be implemented in-house or provided by a third-party service provider, is used to store the pages of a website and responds to user requests asking to view the content of a web page. Thus, web hosting is about making the sought web page available to end users.
Think of a web host as a computer server that stores multiple web pages and makes them available online.
Most large businesses operate hosts on their servers or use a dedicated hosting service, which makes available an individual server to host their particular website only. However, most websites rely on a shared hosting service where multiple websites are stored, managed, and accessed on a mutually shared server.
Essentials of Web Hosting
In fact, web hosting is a service that comprises files, applications, and hardware and software platforms. All of these elements are required for web hosting to run smoothly.
Before you host your website, you need to create web pages and content for it. The actual web hosting service is made up of two components. First, you must upload content and manage it. Then, your web host will make these pages and content available online using one of the many hardware and software solutions for web hosting.
The management of your website will require a content management system or FTP software. FTP (file transfer protocol) is more suitable for file management, while a CMS (content management service) would be handy if you have a lot of content to manage. Other programs on your side can also be used to communicate with the web hosting server.
What’s the Difference Between a Web Host and a Domain Name?
You use a computer or other device to connect to your host, which stores your files and web pages for you. Understand that your host is not your domain name. The domain name is just a method to tell users where to look to find your website. For example, https://www.webhostingsun.com. That is the domain name.
The website itself is physically stored on a hardware device, and both you and your users need the web hosting service to access the pages.
Another essential component is the presence of connectivity between you and your host since web hosting is about connecting pieces of hardware and software to each other. It may sound obvious, but demonstrates the massive underlying infrastructure behind a web hosting service that stores and allows hundreds or thousands of websites to be online simultaneously.
Components of Web Hosting Services
A web hosting service usually includes the lease of hardware, software, and applications by a service provider to various customers. Most web hosting services offer backup and restore services, free email addresses, and most recently e-commerce functionality. A web hosting service might include a free domain or subdomain. A subdomain address of a website would look like ‘mysubdomain.webhosting.com’ while a proprietary domain name would read ‘mydomain.com.’
A web host can make a website visible online but can also deny access to it.
Most web hosting companies, both free and paid services, introduce limits on the bandwidth your site use, which influences the speed of your site especially if multiple users are accessing it simultaneously. Other limitations may include the number of pages, respectively the size of a website, allowed under a certain web hosting plan. For example, a starter web hosting plan might include storage of only, say, one gigabyte of data used within a website, which can be quite enough for a small personal blog but insufficient for a corporate website or an online store with thousands of products on display.
Usually, an average corporate customer would require a service plan that is beyond the scope of the respective starter plan, which is a bit more expensive that the maintenance of a personal blog on a paid web hosting platform. However, with this, you can take advantage of features like increased server space, higher bandwidth, and additional functionality such as obtaining and using an SSL certificate and secure connection that encrypts the connection between your site and a visitor.
Web Hosting Management
What is web hosting regarding software? The software behind a web host typically includes server platforms like Apache web server, OS X Server, or Windows Server, which are mandatory to install. These and many other required applications exemplify sophisticated and advanced software that should be administered at an expert level even though you can install and manage such software yourself.
Nevertheless, maintaining a website, especially a web server, is a challenging and time-consuming task, especially for individual users and small businesses that lack the technical expertise to handle the complexity of the web host’s underlying hardware and software. Taking into account the rapid growth of the IT technologies and the ever-growing cybersecurity threats, it is highly recommended to use a web hosting service, benefiting from the expert management of your web host.
A managed web hosting service would be a perfect solution for individual users, as well as for small and medium-sized businesses. The managed web hosting allows both individual and corporate customers to manage and control their websites remotely, using various tools such as cPanel, Plesk, or DirectAdmin. Most of these web applications enable the website owner to control various aspects and features of a website, from email configuration to FTP management, to the database and the backup administration of an entire site or multiple websites. Such tools are available for both Windows and Linux-hosted solutions.