It provides a secure place to store online content. The code, images, videos, and text that comprise a website must be stored somewhere. With a stable digital repository, we could consistently access content on the web.
That makes hosting one of the most critical parts of developing an online presence for anyone, from huge companies to small-scale personal accounts.
Web hosting allows users to store content offsite, reducing local storage costs and the associated physical footprint. It also makes building a genuinely durable web presence easier, with built-in advantages like backups for security and support.
Some web hosting happens locally via personal computers or servers, but cloud-based third-party providers are used more frequently. Once you start searching for a hosting service, you should be able to find a wide range of both free and paid options to consider.
For most websites, web hosting is provided by a web hosting company that owns and maintains many servers and essentially allows customers to rent space on them. You pay the web hosting provider either monthly or annually for that space, and, in return, they keep your website up and running.
If spending money continually for your website is frustrating, you may wonder if there’s a way to get around paying someone else for web hosting services. While it’s technically possible for a business or individual to purchase and maintain their private web server, it’s expensive and impractical for most website owners. Servers require maintenance, proper climate control, and advanced skills to manage.
Plus, the bandwidth required to host your website on a server launches you far beyond what most internet plans will allow for an individual or SMB business. Since bandwidth relates directly to speed and uptime, having enough is an important part of keeping your website accessible to visitors.
There are several different types of web hosting.
Depending on the situation of the particular individual or business, their needs will be different.
Shared hosting is typically considered the most basic option for website hosting.
With these plans, server space is shared with other websites and resources will be the same across them too, meaning the hardware components will be identical and cannot be configured.
Shared hosting is best suited to website owners who don’t receive a lot of traffic, as—while affordable—they are more susceptible to slowdowns because of the shared resources
VPS hosting is more appropriate for site owners who need a more customizable option than a shared server.
While technically still shared, VPS replicates the experience of a dedicated server, offering more personalization and better performance for sites that have higher volumes of traffic.
A dedicated server provides the most options in terms of customization, as the website owner controls all the hardware.
The downside is that it requires expertise to operate and maintain it, in addition to upgrades down the line in order to scale it to the site’s needs should they experience growth in traffic and hosted content.
Cloud hosting is probably the most flexible option to run a website.
While it shares similarities to shared hosting in that multiple sites share server resources, it differs in that it can offer magnitudes more power.
This is because rather than several websites sharing one server, instead in a cloud system many servers are “pooled” together, and from there sites run on these shared resources.
This includes the processing power, memory, storage allocated to each site, all derived from a pooling of many (often) powerful servers in a data center housed by the provider.
This means higher performance, better reliability, a substantial amount of control over the virtual machine you are allocated, and better performance as a whole, making it a very popular choice for website owners—particularly businesses.
Managed hosting means cloud hosting needs are taken care of by a provider, whether that’s the vendor or a managed service provider.
In these plans, whoever is managing a hosting plan will be the point of contact and run the administration of ensuring the website is properly resourced.