Web hosting is a necessity in a digital world. If you want a website, you need a web hosting company to host it for you. But what is web hosting exactly, and how does it even affect your website?
Understanding the mechanics behind web hosting gives you a better idea of why it’s such an important part of your online business. Here’s our overview of the process: website hosting is explained so you know what you’re getting yourself into!
What Is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is a service that publishes and makes your website visible to users on the internet. The web hosting service provider owns, operates, and maintains the server, which is a powerful computer that’s connected to the internet 24/7.
Once your website has been designed and developed, you’ll rent space on the server. If a user enters your website’s address, the stored files on the server are delivered and displayed on the user’s screen.
It’s also important to note that the stored files on the server are indexed by search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. This makes the website’s files findable when a user enters a search query. If your product, service, or website has relevant information to the query, your website could be among the websites listed by the search engine.
How Does Web Hosting Work?
Every website consists of multiple files, applications, databases, videos, and images for the specific website’s purpose and design. The web host’s server stores these files so they’re ready to be delivered to browsers at any time. Some of the files that are stored on the web host’s server include:
HTML Files (HyperText Markup Language)
These files contain the text, images, and other content that you see on a web page. It also tells the browser how to display the content on the user’s screen.
CSS Files (Cascading Style Sheets)
CSS controls the colors, fonts, layouts and other visual aspects like headings, paragraphs, images, and buttons on your website, making it visually appealing. It also helps to make your web pages more user-friendly and engaging.
Images are used to add visual interest to web pages and to enhance user experience. These images are stored on the server in a variety of formats, including JPEG, PNG, and GIF.
Video files stored on a server are digital files kept in a centralized location. When you want to watch a video, your device retrieves the file from the server and plays it for you, allowing you to enjoy the content on your screen. These files can be stored on the server as MP4, MOV, and AVI.
The audio files are stored as digital data on the server. They can be stored in formats like MP3, WAV, or AAC. The audio is encoded on the server and is decoded by your device’s audio player, where it’s converted into the sound you hear through headphones or speakers.
Scripts work quietly in the background but play a vital role in making a website more functional and engaging for users. Scripts add versatility to your website as they can perform a variety of tasks like:
- Handling form submissions
- Managing user authentication and security
- Generate dynamic web pages
- Sending emails
- Controlling the flow of a web page
Databases are used to store a variety of information on the server, which includes user accounts, product information, or a user’s order history.
What Happens When a User Wants to Visit a Website?
When a user wants to visit a website, a few things happen:
- The user types the website’s address (URL) into their web browser.
- The search engine translates the domain name into an IP address and sends an HTTP or HTTPS request to the server where the website is stored.
- It then sends a request to that server, asking for the website’s files.
- The server locates those files and sends them back to the user’s web browser allowing the requested web page to load.
- The files are then displayed on the user’s screen.
Types of Web Hosting Services
Fortunately, there are a few different options you can choose from. When you’re looking to choose a web hosting provider, you’ll need to consider the following:
- Amount of traffic your website gets
- The complexity of your website
- Size of your website
- Type of content on your website
- The hosting plan that fits your budget
You’ll be able to choose between the following web hosting options:
Multiple websites share the same server resources, making it an affordable option. It’s suitable for small websites with moderate traffic.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
A virtual server is created within a physical server, providing more control and resources than shared hosting. It offers a balance between affordability and performance.
Dedicated Server Hosting
With this type of hosting, you won’t be sharing the resources of the server with any other websites. The entire server resources are dedicated solely to your website. It offers the highest level of control, performance, and security, but is more expensive.
Websites are hosted on a network of interconnected servers, offering scalability, reliability, and the ability to handle traffic spikes. It provides high uptime and flexibility.
What You Should Expect From Your Web Host Provider
When choosing a web host provider, there are certain expectations you should have. Here are a few key points to consider:
Uptime and Reliability
Your website should be up and running without frequent interruptions or downtime! Look for a web hosting provider that provides an uptime guarantee of 99.9%, which is also considered to be an industry standard.
This will ensure that your website is accessible to users across the globe 24/7, which will help increase your potential revenue.
A good web host provider should offer fast loading times for your website. Your website should load in 2 seconds or less, especially on mobile devices. If your website takes longer to load you’ll find that users will get frustrated and leave, which will increase your bounce rate.
It can also have a negative impact on search engine ranking and it could make your website more vulnerable to security attacks.
Your website’s security is important because it protects your website and its data from unauthorized access, malicious attacks, and data breaches. Your web hosting provider should have strong security measures in place, which should include:
- SSL certificates
- DDoS protection
- Regular security updates
- Regular backups of your website
Having access to reliable customer support is crucial for your website, as you never know when something may go wrong. Make sure to check the type of support the web hosting company is offering.
Ideally, you want a web hosting provider that offers 24/7 support with live chat or phone support. This will give you peace of mind as you’re able to focus on running your business and you know you’ll be able to get support quickly and easily if you need it.
Web hosting might sound complicated, but it’s simpler than most people realize. You’re entrusting your website and all its files to your web host for safekeeping and display. But while it’s not complicated, it’s still important to choose the right kind of web hosting. This company will be looking after your biggest business asset—your digital face, your website.
About the Author Paul Wheeler runs a web design agency that helps small businesses optimize their websites for business success. He aims to educate business owners on all things website-related on his own website, Reviews for Website Hosting.