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What is web hosting?

Web hosting definition

When a web hosting provider allocates space on a server for a website to store its files, they are in actual fact hosting a website. Web hosting makes the files that comprise a website, code, images, javascript, HTML etc, available for viewing online. Every website you’ve ever visited is hosted on a server.

The amount of space allocated on a server to a website depends on the type of hosting. The main types of hosting are shared, VPS and dedicated, They are differentiated by the kind of technology used for the server, the level of management provided and the additional services on offer.

What is a server?

A server is a computer that connects other web users to your site from anywhere in the world. As the name implies, web hosting service providers have servers, connectivity, and associated services to host websites. By offering a variety of hosting plans, they cover a multitude of hosting needs, from small sites to large organisations.

The precise meaning of “a server” is a computer program or device that provides a service to another computer program and its user, also known as the client. In a data centre, the physical computer that a server program runs on is also frequently referred to as a server. That machine might be a dedicated server or it might be used for other purposes.

Web hosting on servers

If you’re planning on creating a website, reliable web hosting is essential. There are literally thousands of web hosts available providing varieties of web hosting services. Plans range from free with very limited options to expensive web hosting services specialised for business.

The plan you choose will depend primarily on how you plan to use your website and how much you have budgeted for hosting.

Choosing the right hosting plan will mean having access to the right allocation of resources to keep your website loading quickly and reliably for your visitors.

Cheapest not always best

If you’re new to managing a website, web hosting can be confusing. Many beginners think that the cheapest hosting is best, or anything bundled with a domain name is good. In most cases, this is completely false.

Why do I need web hosting?

It is technically possible to serve pages from your own PC or Mac to the Internet. However, this is not practical as a home-based broadband connection is not powerful enough to serve many users at the same time.

This is why web hosting companies exist & have powerful servers that store your website and pages. They connect these web servers to the Internet with very powerful connections in the data centres, enabling many web users to access your web pages at the same time. If you want to have your own website you need web hosting.

The basic types of web hosting

Web hosting comes in different types and qualities believe it or not, but the main types still remain.

Shared hosting

Shared hosting allows multiple websites to utilise a single server. Usually, you’ll have no idea who or what websites you’re sharing the resources of a server with. Each customer will have a limit on the total amount of server resources they can use, but this will be defined by your hosting package provider.

Usual features of shared hosting

  • FTP access
  • Email
  • Autonomous software installation
  • Database implementation & management
  • Website metrics
  • Backups

Shared hosting is the cheapest option in the web hosting world but does have its limitations, so please choose a company you trust.

Advantages of shared hosting
  • Cheapest hosting option available. The usual price for shared hosting range from £1.00 p/m to £15.00 p/m.
  • Most hosting companies have multiple levels of hosting available, so you can upgrade your hosting. This makes shared hosting a great place to start.
  • Shared hosting usually comes with cPanel, which makes it easy to manage your site.
  • No technical maintenance needed by you, as this is usually included in your hosting package.

Shared hosting is the most sensible option for website owners on a small budget, or just to get you started online. You can always upgrade to more powerful hosting packages in time, once the need arises.

Disadvantages of shared hosting
  • The load time can be slower than dedicated servers or VPS servers.
  • The server can become overburdened by other sites that are sharing the resources of the server.
  • As your site begins to receive higher levels of traffic you may notice that your site is a little sluggish.
  • You never quite know who your neighbours are. Although rare, it is possible for other sites on the server to pose a risk to your own site.
  • There’s a lack of customization options to truly get the highest level of performance from your website.

For most people starting online, the advantages of shared hosting will greatly outweigh the disadvantages, especially if you’re trying to get a site up and running as quickly as possible.

Want a great tip to speed up websites on shared hosting? – Learn more.

Recommended shared hosting:

1. Siteground dedicated hosting/servers – visit website
2. Datarealm dedicated servers – visit website

VPS hosting

VPS stands for a virtual private server. A physical server is housed in a data centre, the location of which depends upon the hosting provider. A VPS is a partitioned part of one of these servers that contain its own operating system, bandwidth, and disc space.

These servers will usually be divided into multiple different VPS’s, dedicated, or shared servers. A VPS will be used as a dedicated server and can be customised to any level.

Most shared servers come with an existing hosting environment and certain settings already built-in. A VPS acts like a dedicated server without the cost of having a dedicated server.

Advantages of VPS hosting

Acting as the intermediary between shared and dedicated servers, a VPS can provide a lot of benefits.

  • A higher level of performance for more resource-hungry websites compared to shared hosting.
  • VPS hosting is equipped to handle higher traffic levels right out of the gate. Also, with VPS hosting you will have the ability to scale your resources over time.
  • Improved security if you start to experience more security threats.
  • Great pricing compared to dedicated servers.
  • Greater server access and customisation abilities for your server environment.

Keep in mind that some hosts will also offer managed VPS hosting, which means most of the technical tasks to manage the server will be done for you. This option will free up your time and ensure your server is always fully optimised, but this will be more expensive than an unmanaged VPS.

When compared to shared hosting, its a big upgrade in quality without the huge jump in price.

Disadvantages of VPS hosting
  • VPS hosting is quite cost-effective, especially with all of the features, the pricing can still be steep for some website owners. If a basic shared hosting plan is stretching your budget, then VPS will not be the right option for you.
  • VPS hosting relies upon proper resource allocation. If you’re using a low-quality host, another site that’s on the same physical server may impact your site.
Recommended VPS hosting:

1. Siteground dedicated hosting/servers – visit website

Dedicated hosting

With dedicated hosting, you have the entire server to do what you want with. So will get greater server resources, but you can optimise this server to your website’s own requirements.

Dedicated hosting functions are similar to other styles of hosting, where you’ll still be paying a monthly fee for access to the server. While there are some cheap dedicated server hosting plans available, most are quite expensive, which is why you should look around and do your research before you choose.

Advantages of dedicated servers
  • Dedicated servers provide you with a much-improved performance. This means that your site should have the same level of loading speeds, whether you receive a large amount of traffic or a normal amount of daily visitors. This consistency can be hugely important, as one of the main reasons you’re probably migrating to a dedicated web host is due to the large volume of traffic your site receives.
  • With a dedicated server, you’ll be able to have superior flexibility and control over your website. Your first choice will be choosing between a Linux or Windows operating system. This choice will depend on the configuration that suits your website the best.
  • With custom server setup you’ll be able to install whatever software your website requires to function, plus you’ll be able to allocate resources however you see fit.
  • Dedicated hosting also offers you the added benefit of being incredibly secure. By only having one website across a whole server environment you’re already boosting security. Compared to shared hosting where you’re sharing the server with thousands of other sites.
Disadvantages of dedicated servers
  • The biggest drawback of dedicated hosting is the cost. Since you have an entire server to yourself you’ll have to pay for all of the associated costs.
  • Unmanaged dedicated hosting comes with the issue that you have to manage your own server environment and software.
  • Managed dedicated hosting is where you ask the hosting provider’s technical staff to help, but this will cost more than unmanaged.
Recommended dedicated servers:

1. Siteground dedicated hosting/servers – visit website
2. Datarealm dedicated servers – visit website

Our NVMe web hosting

We use and resell NVMe cloud web hosting, which is essentially some of the fastest hosting in the world right now. NVMe is a relatively new logical storage device interface that offers advantages over legacy protocols.

Benefits of NVMe hosting

  1. Supports multiple Input/Output (I/O) queues
  2. Simultaneous I/O requests
  3. Better energy efficiency
  4. Delivers high bandwidth and low latency simultaneously
  5. Better UX over standard SATA, SSD and HDD hosting solutions

Check out our web hosting plans and let us know down below what you think.

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  • Phil J says:

    A very inciteful article that was a good read. Wish it had a few images though 😉

    • says:

      Thanks, Phil… We try to help with relevant information without all the fluff. In this case, we thought pictures of servers and other web hosting images would be pretty lame. We will look to add some though just for you!

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