If you’re thinking of getting your own website, you’ve likely heard that you need web hosting to do so. But if you’re like many people, you may be left wondering what exactly is web hosting, how it works, and why you need it.
The technology that powers websites on the Internet may seem quite complicated to understand at first. This guide will help you get a better grasp of what web hosting is and how you can use it to create a website so that you can share your message with the rest of the world through the Internet.
Web hosting also called website hosting or just hosting, is a service that allows websites to be accessible to others through the Internet. Every website is composed of several files that work together. In order for these files to be seen by other Internet users, you need to upload them to a remote computer that is publicly accessible. Web hosting companies provide you with the infrastructure to make your website work and enable it to be seen by any other Internet user in the world.
Web hosting can be seen as a service that provides a virtual home where your website will reside. Hosting companies use computers called servers, which can house several websites at a time. Whenever an Internet user types in the address of your website, your web hosting provider will send the files that make up each page of your site to their computer. While there are several different types of web hosting services, ranging from simple ones use by individuals and small businesses, all the way to more complex solutions for large enterprises, they all work on the same basic principles.
Every web page is a file, similar to a word processing document. Your website is made up of several individual files, which require a computer for them to be stored. Web hosting provides you with powerful computers called servers that store all of the files which make up your website. These servers also make them available to individuals who want to see your website.
Servers are made up of the same basic components as a desktop PC, including CPUs, RAM and hard drives, in addition to having a connection to the Internet. However, as they typically host dozens of websites which are accessed by many people at once, they have higher hardware specifications and a much faster Internet connection when compared to a home PC.
Businesses in the web hosting industry provide their customers with a space on their servers that is used to store their website contents, in addition to the network infrastructure and Internet connectivity needed to make them available to the world at all times.
Web hosting is a type of service which houses your website on a server. These servers are owned or leased by the hosting company. A data centre is a facility which stores servers used for web hosting. One way to compare the two would be to think of servers as individual apartments and the data centre as the building itself.
Data centres are specifically designed to house large number of servers and other computing hardware. They provide not only physical storage space, but also electrical power and network connectivity which enables the servers to function. Data centres are used by web hosting companies, as well as large corporations like banks and phone companies, which use a vast number of servers to power their internal applications.
Even though web hosting and domains are closely related, they’re not the same thing. You can think of web hosting as a service which provides a home for your website, while a domain is the address of that home. When an Internet user types in a website’s domain name in their browser, a process behind the scenes redirects them to the IP address of the server where your website is stored.
While web hosting gives a home for your website, it isn’t the website itself. Your website is made up of many different files that contain all of its content. Web hosting provides a space for these files to stay and be seen by the world.
You can think of web hosting as your home, while your website would be its contents, such as your furniture and personal belongings. Just like you can take these and move to a new home, you can generally take your website’s files and transfer them over to another web hosting provider if you need to.
As web hosting is basically a service that lets you use a computer which serves your website to the outside world, you might wonder whether it would be possible to use your home computer to host your website instead of using the services of a professional hosting company. While this can be done, hosting your website on a home PC comes with its own set of challenges and problems.
Here are some disadvantages of self-hosting:
Turning your home PC into a web server is a lot more complicated than it looks. You will need to install and configure an operating system that enables your computer to function as a web server. This will typically be one of the Windows Server versions or a Linux variant. As these operating systems, their components and related software are mostly used by IT professionals, setting them up properly requires knowledge of servers and networking technology.
While you can find some free guides and tutorials that will give you some insight on how to get started, going through them and completing the required tasks can easily take you all day if you’ve never configured a server before. If a problem happens during the setup process or later down the road, you might find yourself scouring through complex technical forums for hours in an effort to find a solution. Simply put, unless you’re planning on a technical career in the IT industry, learning how to set up and run your own server is just not worth the effort.
In order to function efficiently and securely, web servers require that their software components be regularly maintained and updated. This is especially important in today’s world, as new security threats emerge on a regular basis and anyone who runs a web server will have to stay on top of the latest developments in security so they can install the necessary software updates to keep the websites hosted on it secure.
If there’s a problem with your computer’s software or hardware components, you will need to figure out how to make the needed repairs to get it up and running again. During this process, your website will be inaccessible for as long as your PC is down.
If the power goes out at your home, your website will be inaccessible as your computer will be off. This can be a big problem if you host a business website and the power at your home goes out for an extended period, such as during a storm or natural disaster, as you will be losing valuable customers.
Most home Internet connections have relatively slow upload speeds, as individual Internet users typically don’t send large amount of data from their computers to other Internet users. When hosting a website, slow upload speeds mean that your visitors will get a poor experience as they wait a long time for your site to load.
Another problem with the majority of residential Internet services is that they come with a dynamic IP address, which changes on a regular basis. This means that your website will become inaccessible until you update your web server software’s configuration every time the IP address changes.
Internet providers do offer packages with high upload speeds and static IP addresses, but these are mostly aimed at business users and cost several times what a regular home Internet service does. The difference in price is much more expensive than what you would pay for a professional web hosting service.
On the other hand, professional web hosting services offer you these big advantages:
Web hosts make it easier for people with limited technology knowledge to build and maintain a website. They provide a simple web-based interface that lets you upload your website’s file or even build a completely new website from scratch, together with many help resources that explain how the different functions of your hosting service work. If you have questions or run into a problem, web hosting companies have a technical support department that you can contact for help by email, phone or live chat.
Hosting firms use data centers which have generators to keep all of their servers running should their main power supply go down. This backup power source ensures your website will stay up, even during a long power failure.
Web servers used by hosting firms are connected to the Internet through very fast connections, allowing them to ensure optimal performance even if dozens of visitors access your website at once. Their servers have fixed IP addresses, so your website’s address will always point to the right place.
Web hosting companies have a team of technicians and systems engineers responsible for making upgrades and repairs to their server software and hardware components. They possess the needed replacement parts to immediately make needed repairs and contingency plans to move websites to another server should one have to be taken offline for maintenance. On average, customers reputable web hosting companies experience less than a few minutes of website downtime per month.
Self-hosting on a home PC is only suitable for projects that don’t require a website to be seen by the outside world. This can include IT students or individual entrepreneurs aspiring to start a web hosting business learning how web server software works, as well as freelance developers testing websites they built for their clients before they go live. But if you want you want to share information with others through your website, such as when running a site for a small business, using a professional web hosting service is a lot more suitable for your needs.
Web hosting is a service that is necessary for anyone who wants to have a website. Web hosting companies provide powerful computers that store all of the files which make up a website and enable anyone on the Internet to access them. By doing so, they take care of most technical aspects involved in running a website for their customers, who simply need to build it and keep it updated as they wish.
UKHost4u is a company that has been providing high-quality web hosting services to individuals and businesses in the UK for many years. We provide a wide range of hosting products and services to meet the requirements of different types of customers. For more information about our web hosting options, you can contact us by email, phone or through the live chat option on our website.