If you're new to the world of creating websites, you might find yourself asking yourself "What Is Web Hosting?". Maybe you have some idea about what hosting is but you're not too sure. Fortunately this is a relatively easy one to explain (I think!).
Puts your Website on the Internet
Web hosting refers to a service that puts your website on the Internet. In other words, it makes your website available to your users. In general, most websites are intended to be viewed by anyone on the Internet, at any time. If you want anyone on the Internet to be able to view your website at any time, you need to make sure your website is running on a computer which is connected to the Internet 24 hours per day, 7 days per week (24/7).
There are different types of web hosting, however, you have two options when it comes to web hosting.
Option 1: Host the Website Yourself
Hosting the website yourself means that you will need to have the right equipment, including a web server and a permanent connection to the Internet. You would need to ensure that your Internet service provider (ISP) allows this type of usage too. You would also need to have website administration skills such as managing/configuring a web server, patch management, firewalls, virus protection etc
Most people don't do their own website hosting. Even if they have the skills or equipment, it often makes more sense to hand this task to a third party who can monitor the website 24/7.
Option 2: Find a Hosting Provider to Host your Website
This is the most common choice for web hosting. Using a third party hosting provider allows you to concentrate on developing your website (or whatever else it is you may do), and leave the hosting tasks up to a company who (presumably) specializes in web hosting.
A good web hosting company will provide at least the following services:
- 24/7 support
- 24/7 FTP access (so you can update your website)
- A number of email accounts (i.e. yourName@yourDomain.com)
- Online control panel for managing your website
- Online traffic statistics (so you can see how much traffic your website receives)
- A robust database management system, such as MySQL or MS SQL. This is so you can add your own database if required
Once you start looking for a web hosting provider, you will notice there is a very large difference in how much they charge. You will also notice that most web hosts have multiple hosting plans, each at different prices. Any good web host will allow you to upgrade a plan later on if required, so don't feel as though you need to start off on a plan that costs more than you need.
Example of a Hosting Provider
An example of a web hosting company with competitive prices is our partner, ZappyHost.
You'll also find that you can get special deals by bundling your domain name with your hosting (i.e. purchasing both at the same time). If you're on a tight budget, deals like this can really make a difference when starting out with your website.
You can also get a hosting plan with an online website builder included. This is perfect for anyone who doesn't want to learn the technical aspects of creating a website.
OK, so now that we've looked at what web hosting is, let's look at the different types of web hosting.