What Is Web Hosting? (Definition, Benefits And Types)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

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If you are looking to build and host a website for your portfolio, freelance business or organisation, you may consider various web hosting options that are available to you. As business becomes increasingly technology-driven, it is beneficial for individuals and enterprises to establish a strong online presence. Knowing what web hosting is, how it works and why it is important to a site's functionality, accessibility and security can help you make an informed decision to meet hosting requirements. In this article, we examine what web hosting is and how it works, along with the various types of web hosting services you can use to publish your website online.

What Is Web Hosting?

The answer to the question ‘What is web hosting?' is that it is a service that entails setting up a digital archive for a website with all its accompanying files, making the website available to users online and enhancing the website's security. A web hosting service provider or a web host is a firm that sells or rents server space for websites and operates and maintains servers. For your digital venture, you may use web hosting services in a variety of ways, such as a web hosting platform or a service that combines a website builder with hosting infrastructure.

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How Does Web Hosting Work?

This is a basic outline of the operation of a web hosting service:

  • You create a website. You may hire a professional website designer or developer, do the programming and designing yourself or utilise an online website builder for creating a website.

  • You pick a web hosting service. There are several choices available for web hosting, offering a range of basic and distinctive features. Research the features of each option, explore customer reviews and consider taking suggestions from designers and developers.

  • You upload the site files. Submit your CSS and HTML files, database and any additional photos, videos or other materials after choosing a service provider. If you build your website with a website builder, it may automatically save these files on the host site you choose.

  • The hosting service stores the files on its servers. A server is a sizeable computer system that stores data, establishes a website's IP address as a distinct location on the Internet and connects site visitors to those files. To ensure that websites operate efficiently, each server allocates a specific amount of hard drive space, RAM and bandwidth to each website.

A server facilitates access for users in the following way:

  • Users either click on a website from a search engine results page or input the domain name or URL into their browser's address bar.

  • The browser redirects the domain name to the IP address of the host server.

  • By transferring the files to the user's browser, that server grants access to the files on the requested website.

  • The server then delivers data to the appropriate database where the site stores its data when a user submits a request, performs an action or completes a form.

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Benefits Of Using Web Hosting Services

There are many benefits to finding the right web host for your site, including:

  • Large storage capacity: Regardless of the size of a website, e-commerce platform or a business, web hosting service providers typically offer a selection of storage capacities to suit specific requirements.

  • Improved site performance: The speed of a host server affects how quickly visitors can access the material on a website, make requests and engage with content. You can enhance a website's operation and decrease load times with dependable and well-maintained servers.

  • Advanced security measures: Online security measures safeguard businesses and website users from data breaches. Firewalls and other robust security measures that servers of reputed web hosting platforms provide can help mitigate these risks.

  • Technical support: Web hosting platforms also provide technical assistance to guide clients while handling problems with accessibility, file management, security and other aspects of a website. Depending on the nature of the service, a host may offer assistance during certain hours of the day, or throughout the day.

  • Data management: When you choose a reputed web hosting service provider, content management is completely within your control. You can choose the content you want to upload and decide how it appears on a user's screen.

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Types Of Web Hosting Services

Budget and storage requirements are two important considerations while choosing the type of web hosting service that meets your requirements. These are some popular types of web hosting services:

Shared hosting

In this type of hosting mechanism, you may share server space with other websites that are similar in size or purpose. To assure that visitors redirect to the right website and that data sharing remains safe, shared hosting service providers incorporate robust security measures on these servers. For smaller websites like portfolio sites, shared hosting is less expensive than other alternatives. One major disadvantage of this choice is that you can not alter the server's composition or operation mechanisms because you share server space with other websites.

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Virtual private server hosting

Virtual private server hosting or VPS is a type of hosting in which the provider builds a virtual specialised server that works specifically for a client. The VPS may pull its RAM and other resources from multiple physical servers. In such an arrangement, although your site and other sites have access to the same resources, your data is still separate from the data of other sites.

This choice may be more affordable, particularly for medium-sized businesses that require more storage space or have complex website layouts. As the requirements of your website change, you may have the choice of increasing or reducing server resources. The fact that you are required to share resources with other websites is one disadvantage of a VPS.

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Dedicated server hosting

Hosting on a dedicated server entails having a server system all to yourself using none of another website's storage or resources. This can also involve getting your own internal servers and handling their setup, maintenance and management. Large corporate enterprises with heavy web traffic, a requirement for high functionality, quick server response times and better security, can choose this alternative. Some benefits to this option include:

  • Complete control over how the servers work, what security measures are in place and data storage policies

  • Sole ownership of all server space

  • The option to sell or lease server space to others

Some drawbacks to this option include:

  • High costs related to leasing a private server from a host

  • High costs related to investing in server equipment, employing server management teams and security professionals, and procuring utilities for powering server equipment

  • Requirement of a large enough space to store server equipment safely

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Cloud hosting

In cloud hosting, virtual hardware stores all of a website's data and files. You need only pay for the space and resources that you actually put to use with this option, which is one of its key features and advantages. It is a cost-effective choice for websites with fluctuating visitor volumes, since it prevents overspending on resources with minimal utility. Another advantage is that the system immediately switches your website to another operational server if the portion of the cloud server you are using experiences downtime. This ensures that your website remains operational consistently.

Some disadvantages of using cloud hosting include:

  • This unique setup may have those who prefer physical data storage over cloud storage feeling less confident, but using best practices and security policies ensures that security threats are minimal.

  • Some less reliable cloud hosting service providers may see more downtime.

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