Are you going to start an online shopping cart, blog, etc? If yes then you must know about what is web hosting and how does it work. Because in every step of your online business, you will encounter this term.
Without having the basic information of it, you would end up paying too many fees to your website developers in the name of web hosting.
Hence I’ve written this web hosting guide which describes it for you in an easy way.
As you know, today the real money is on the internet. If your business is online you can multiply your clients, sales, and authority of your business.
Whether you are going to set up your new startup or you have an existing business, without the presence on the internet you can’t play a long shot.
But the problem is – a big part of us don’t understand the technical part of the internet and hence ended with paying a huge amount of money to agents for just setting up a website.
Well, I’m here to guide you all about the internet technology that you’ll need to run your online business.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we recommended. Read more about Affiliate disclosure here.
In this article, you will get the core knowledge of web hosting that will help you build your website in just a fraction of the money charged by the agents.
But first the definition…
What is Web Hosting
Web hosting is a service in which you are provided with webspace on a webserver to host your website and make it visible by other internet users.
These web servers stay online 24/7 so your website never let down and available for 24 hours. The user only needs a computer or mobile device, an Internet connection, and a web browser to access your website.
From free hosting with limited options to paid web hosting services with unlimited options, there are many types of web hosting services available in the market.
Depending on your website traffic and other factors you can decide to choose the best web hosting service for you.
You read the definition of web hosting above. But web hosting is a vast thing to tie into a definition.
It’s an integral part of any website. If we’ll go, in short, website hosting is an online drive space where you can host your website.
In this technological era, especially after 2010, the online presence is important for any kind of business. If you want to grow your business today, you will have to make your website nor you would face failure.
Although there are several parts and processes of website creation that you have to understand before taking any further step. But there are three important terms you should be familiar with them.
As an entrepreneur you should be familiar with all the three terms as when you come online, often you encounter these terms.
Check out my recommended Tools and Resources which help you in running your online business successfully.
Some More Information About Web Hosting
Web hosting is as important as your domain name. Just think, if you have an office which has its address but there is no carpet area there, then where your visitors come to meet you?
Technically, web hosting is an online web space where you host your website’s files and database. Anyone can access your public files through the internet. The only requirement for them is the DNS or domain name address of your website.
Web hosting and domain name are online services which you have to purchase and pay for them on a recurring basis. When you purchase web hosting from a company, they generally provide you with a space on their server to host your website files for the public. For space provided, they charge from you on a recurring basis.
The size of the web hosting space usually depends upon the size of your website. Some websites have no need to buy much space. On the other hand, some websites have a large file and database size and they need more space on the server.
After purchasing the space in a web server you will get a control panel called cPanel from where you can upload files to your website and control all your website features and future updates.
The web hosting provider gives you a username and password and also the cPanel’s web address from where you can access the cPanel dashboard. Also, they give you FTP (File Transfer Protocol) address and FTP credential for bulk uploading your website files.
Years ago web hosting was very expansive. Fast forward to today, hosting services are quite affordable.
Core Components of Web Hosting
First of all, we should know about the core components of web hosting consists of. If you open the cPanel which is provided by your hosting provider and a gateway to interact with your online property, I bet you will get a feeling of “how and what to do” with that complicated cPanel dashboard.
Thankfully, on Google, there are many tutorials and guides are available about operating the cPanel. You can refer to those guides and tutorials after getting the basic knowledge of web hosting here.
All of you know about the web browser. I have included it here because without a web browser the Internet thing never got that popular. Web browsers are software which acts as a serving platform for websites. You have to install them on your computer, mobiles, tabs, etc and type the web address (Domain name) of the website to the address field to get that particular website’s web pages on your device.
Web browsers are designed to read the web-programming languages (HTML, CSS, PHP, SQL, JAVA, etc) and decode them to provide the required web page to the user.
There are many web browsers are available including Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, etc. different web browsers have different feature but the core function is the same which is decoding and serving the web pages to the users.
Web servers are the remote servers (Remote computers) where web hosting providers provide the space to host your website files. Apart from your local computer, these web servers are always online except for routine maintenance or power failure. So your website is always available for the users.
You can also convert your local computer to a web server. T do this you have to install some software like XAMPP and follow XAMP instructions to host your website on your local computer. But the disadvantage of this approach is you can’t afford your computer always online. Here the need for a remote web server comes into play.
Hosting your website on a remote server is quite affordable as compared to your own server. You can buy a shared hosting package just within $3 a month. There are many hosting providers provide affordable hosting packages for beginners.
If you want to backup or bulk upload your data then you need an FTP server. The FTP server is a part of your web server. It is a file transfer protocol platform. With the help of FTP, you can bulk upload and download your website files on your local computer. When you buy a hosting package, you are provided with an FTP server address and username and password to sign in to the FTP server.
Apart from the cPanel which can access through the web browser, the FTP server needs FTP client software to access. You have to download and install FTP client software on your computer, fill up the username and password area of the FTP server and after few moments you can see all your website files in FTP client’s interface.
From the FTP client interface, you can upload and download all or individual files depending upon your needs.
With the online CMS installation and backup management facilities, the need for the FTP server is has gone down though.
Every business needs business email addresses. Email address is the main tool to interact with your client. Although there are many free email providers are available including Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail, etc they are for personal use. They have their own restrictions and the main thing is that those email addresses are not dedicated to your domain.
See these 2 examples
Which email address looks more professional? Obviously the 2nd one. because it has your domain name which makes it a lot more brandable.
Web hosting providers also provide mail servers to host your desired email address on your domain. You can buy these email servers separately against a nominal monthly fee or can use the cPanel’s email option to create email addresses on your hosting server.
cPanel is the gateway to interact with your web services including website, database, email, domain, subdomain, etc. Each and every core changes on your website is done on cPanel. There are several tools provided to you by cPanel to make changes to your website and other web changes.
Although, if your website built with a content management system like WordPress, then you don’t need to access cPanel frequently as you can apply changes, backup, etc, straight from your CMS dashboard. Even after that, cPanel is an essential tool for a webmaster.
We will discuss cPanel in detail in upcoming posts. For today just keep in mind that cPanel you can’t manage your website in full throttle.
Domains IP address and Subdomains
Domain and IP addresses are actually your website’s online address. A user has to type your website’s domain name or IP address in the address field of the browser to see your website.
Even buying the domain is the very first process to create your website. See the address field of your browser right now. You can see https://www.smartincomesutra.com/ which is the domain name of my website. Just like that, every website has a domain name.
You can also access a website by typing the IP address which is something like 192.168.1.15 or 2001:db8:0:1234:0:567:8:1 a combination of numbers and letters to access the website. These numbers are tough to remember. Hence we are provided by a handy domain name. a domain name masks the IP address and typing the domain name takes you to the same website as IP address.
Here you can ask a question that what is a Subdomain?
A subdomain is a domain name under your parent domain. you can create subdomains easily from the cPanel’ Subdomain feature. Subdomains are looked like,
- forum.yourdomain.com etc
Here blog and forum are subdomains under your main domain. You can use them to create an independent website on your web server.
File manager is a cPanel tool and widely used as an alternative to FTP server. You can use this tool to edit, delete, change permissions, download upload files on your web server.
The only disadvantage of this tool is you can’t bulk upload and download with this. Although, you can use the compress feature to download and upload the files in bulk. You just have to compress the folder, upload, and download the folder on the desired location and extract. I use this feature to manually backup my website files.
If you have a CMS driven website then probably you know about the database. Generally, when installing a CMS on your web server you are prompted to create a database. A database makes us able to create changes on our website without coding each and every page.
It is also helpful if your website updates through user side data. Facebook is a good example of that kind of website.
Well, Database makes it very easy to create changes to our website without beating our head onto the coding like the old days. These important factors make Database an important part of data-driven dynamic websites.
Website editor/ Web design software
Some web hosting services provide drag and drop website creation tools. These tools help clients to create a website without prior knowledge of coding.
You can access these tools under your cPanel account. Some web hosting providers like Wix, Squarespace are specially built for drag and drop website building. But once you created your website with them, you have to be stick with them. This is a kind of disadvantage as you are not free to migrate to another web hosting service.
Alternatively, you can use WordPress CMS which is an award-winning CMS platform and 35% of websites on the internet runs on this CMS. The best thing is that you can migrate your website with some basic knowledge of migrating WordPress. You can also use a paid migration plugin to migrate your website from one server to another.
You can use SSL certificates on your webserver to secure your website for online transactions. Professional SSL certificates are available with some extra bucks yearly on many web hosting services. You can buy them separately or directly from your web hosting account.
In your cPanel dashboard, you can see a separate SSL section where you can install an SSL certificate on your website. When you install an SSL certificate on your website your URL changes to HTTP to HTTPS which propagates end to end protection within you and your user.
Many web hosting providers are now providing free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates. These certificates are valid for 3 months.
Keep a backup of your site is a very very important task. If you don’t do that there are several problems that you could face in the future including the site hacking.
Web hosting service providers provide a facility to back up your site daily, weekly, or custom time basis so that you can restore your site anytime.
Note: I want to add an important note here. Keep your site backup on other remote places also. Many cheap web hosting providers can delete your website without prior notification so keeping an extra backup of your website at another place can help you to retrieve your website anytime.
Software installer – Softaculous etc.
Softaculous is a very cool feature of web hosting cPanel. You can install more than 400 CMS and software on your webserver to power your website.
I always use Softaculous for a fresh installation of WordPress on my webserver. It has a one-click install for all CMS and software which is very easy for a newbie. If you are not developing your website on your local computer then I suggest you use Softaculous for your favorite CMS and software installation.
How Web Hosting Works
In the above section, we discussed the core components of web hosting. Now, its time to know how web hosting works?
There are some sub-questions under that question “how web hosting works?”
- How does a web server work?
- What is the need for Domain Name?
- How does a domain name work?
In this section, I will answer all your all these questions one by one. Just be with me.
Okay, let’s come to the 1st question.
How does a web server work?
Web servers are always online computers, powered with web server applications and programs like cPanel, Apache, PHP, SQL Server, PHP My Admin, etc to host and serve your websites successfully to the users connected to the internet. Every web server has a unique IP address which makes it possible to find out the content of the server on the internet.
When a user types the IP address of the webserver on the address bar of the web browser, it searches for the related web server and if the webserver is connected to the internet, the web browser displays the data saved on the webserver. Here I would like to clear 1 thing that there are two types of data you can store on the webserver. Public data and private or encrypted data.
Public data is accessible by every user but private data is accessible by only those who know the access details.
Why you need a Domain name?
There are 2 reasons behind the need for a domain name. Unique Identity & Branding.
Suppose you have a web server where you host your website with other websites. As the webserver has only one IP address, if somebody types the IP address on his web browser, he would get all the public data stored on the server including your website and others too.
So, to give your website a unique identity on the server, a domain name is used. The server is programmed in such a way that when a user types your domain name on the web browser, and the browser finds the server, the server identifies the domain name and give them access to the data stored on it related to the domain name.
In earlier days, every website hosted on a different server. That process costs a lot of money. Then the concept of shared hosting came in where we can host many websites on one server and every website has its unique identity by the domain name which connects with the hosting. The idea is the same as many flats in an apartment with unique flat numbers.
The second reason for owning a domain name for a website is branding. Apart from the un-handy IP addresses which we can’t remember, domain names are easy to remember and can be used as a brand name for your business.
How does domain name work?
We have to purchase our domain name from domain name providers like Namecheap, Bigrock, etc. We can also purchase a domain name and hosting combo which is far better than purchasing them separately as it will save the domain and web hosting setup time.
After purchasing the domain names we have to connect that to our web hosting server. To do this we have to add the Name Servers in the domain name setting option under the domain name management dashboard. The nameservers are the unique identity of the server and provided by the hosting provider at the time of registration.
After adding the nameservers on the domain name dashboard, wait for 5 min to 24 hours and it will set up. After setting up nameservers anyone can access your website by just typing in your domain name in the browser.
Once the DNS is connected with the domain name, you will see the website files by simply typing the domain name in the address field of the web browser.
See below example.
The format of DNS is just like
Without a domain name, web hosting is like a house without address and without web hosting a domain name is like an address without a physical house. So these both are complementary to each other.
If you want to know how to configure DNS then see my step by step guide on Web address and DNS configuration
Relation of SEO with web hosting
SEO is the short form of search engine optimization. Creating a website is just one side of website making. The other and wast side of this is SEO. When you create your website you have to submit your site to various search engines to crawl your website and index in their database.
After that whenever someone fills a query related to your website category on that search engine, where you have submitted your website, he will get a bunch of results along with your website. But there is very tough competition in every category so it’s a very low chance to show your website in 1st 10 results for that particular query or keyword. Here comes SEO. If you properly SEO your website then there is more chance to show your website on the top.
There are many forms of SEO. One of them is server-side SEO. In this, you have to tweak your server and website files for SEO and one of them is your site loading time.
If your site loads slower then your visitor gets poor experience and never visit again. Due to this your website’s bounce rate will increase and search engines will take you down in search results.
NOTE: Always choose a web hosting provider which has its data center in the country you are targeting. it will definitely speed up your website.
Here I want to tell you that only choose dedicated hosting plans because in shared hosting your website performance depends on the other web site’s traffic and file loads. whenever the server suffers you are in trouble.
So wisely choose your hosting plan if you want to perfectly SEO your website to get maximum benefits of the search engine.
Types of web hosting
Although there are many web hosting plans out there we will discuss here 7 common types of web hosting plans. 4 of them are enough for your website needs.
Shared web hosting means you are sharing the server with other webmasters or other websites.
Let me explain…
When you purchase a shared hosting plan, the hosting provider provides you with a part of the space on that server which has been already sharing space with other websites. This type of server is called a super server and hundreds of thousands of websites hosted on that particular server.
But there is a disadvantage of shared hosting plans. As there are many websites hosted on the same server, the server load is a big problem. If any website which is bigger than other websites, is getting tons of traffic then your website could be down or perform poorly. Due to this, your visitors could have a bad experience.
If you are starting a new website then I suggest starting with the shared server because it’s affordable for anyone. As low as 2$ to 10$ in a month. When your website’s traffic will be increased then you could go with other hosting plans.
If you ask me for the best-shared web hosting provider, I always recommend Bluehost to my readers. It’s a reliable and cheap web hosting provider for those who are just starting their online business.
2. Reseller Web Hosting
Reseller web hosting plans are, especially for web developers. If you are a website developer then you can easily buy a big space from the web hosting companies and sell it to your clients as a part of your web developing process.
It’s also a shared hosting plan. You will get the space on a Super server but with some great extra features and facilities.
Some of them are,
- WHM (Web host manager control panel)
- Free website templates. With that, you can create stunning websites for your clients.
- White label support. Whenever your client has any tech issue, your hosting company handles your customer, behalf of you.
- And the biggest advantage is Private name servers. You can make private name servers telling your customers that your company has its own hosting facility. You can modify the nameservers just like “ns1.yourwebdesigncompany.com”.
You can get a reseller hosting plan from $15 to $100. The price depends on your needs.
With a reseller plan, you can create your own web hosting company and sell online webspace. It’s a great idea for those who want to start a web hosting company but don’t have enough capital initially.
3. Cloud web hosting plans
Cloud web hosting technology is a new technology where hundreds of servers are paired together to make a giant cloud server. It’s just a grid station of different individual servers.
The main advantage of that kind of server is, when your website unusually gets large traffic on an occasion then the cloud server can handle this surge of traffic without shutting down your website. I think it’s the best option for websites to get large traffic. So if you have already a blog or website which is now popular and getting large traffic then it’s time to upgrade your shared hosting plan to cloud hosting.
Its price range depends on your needs. You have to pay for what you want for your website. Usually, plans start at $4.95 per month.
4. Virtual Private Server (VPS)
A virtual private server is a server managed just for your website. After purchasing the VPS plan you will get a virtual server with a dedicated RAM, hard disc space, and CPU.
The main advantage of this plan is there are no other websites on your server for sucking the resources of the server as in shared hosting. If you purchase this plan, hosting companies allocate a virtually-dedicated server with dedicated RAM, space, and CPU for you.
Costing depends on your needs but the minimum cost is $50 per month.
5. Dedicated Web Server
Unlike from Virtual private server, a dedicated web server is a physical server, renting from hosting company. If you rent webserver from hosting company then you will get full control over the server in addition to “root permissions in Linux servers”. Just like a virtual private server or VPS you don’t have to worry about the neighbor websites sucking the resources in shared hosting plans and slowing down your website.
This is the highest form of web hosting where you can get a dedicated physical server with dedicated physical RAM, hard disc space, and CPU. All the big websites that are getting a lot of traffic are using this type of web hosting. Some of them have their own servers and some of them rented the servers from big web hosting companies.
Although it is very costly to manage your own servers, You could rent a dedicated web server from any big hosting companies if you are getting a lot of traffic to your website.
If you want to rent a dedicated server then you have to pay a minimum of $119 per month.
6. Colocation Web hosting plan
When you have a server but you don’t have any space to install it then you can colocate your server renting some space in a data center. You can install your server in the data center and data center authority will allocate the power, cooling, and internet facility to your server.
It means you are responsible for your colocated server’s space CPU and memory and whenever it’s hardware fails, you are responsible to install new hardware to get your server up and running.
In easy words, it’s not for newbies and also for those who are in this field for years. It’s just a rented house for your server.
7. Self-service Web hosting
Self-service hosting is which are using all the giants in online businesses like Facebook, Google, and Amazon. They all use there own data centers where they have installed own servers and serve their website to the world. It’s for them, whose website getting tons of traffic daily and can’t be handled with the above all plans.
If you want to host your website on your own server then you need facilities.
- Datacenter space
- Cooling facility
- Power with a backup power facility
- Internet bandwidth
- System manager
- Datacenter manager
- and more…
8. WordPress hosting plan
If you are a blogger you probably know about WordPress. WordPress is a CMS(content managing system) software which is ideal for blogging websites as well as another type of websites. You will be wondered listening that 19% of websites in the world are created with WordPress.
Today WordPress is huge and this is the reason all the hosting companies provide special WordPress hosting.
In WordPress hosting, companies provide direct installation of WordPress CMS on your server. The installation is one click and takes only 5 minutes. So this type of hosting is for them who don’t know anything about web designing and programming.
Just install WordPress and configure WordPress by installing the particular plugins from its dashboard which type of site you want to make. there are 40,000 free plugins in the WordPress plugin directory for all types of website needs. If you want to create a blog, shopping cart, portfolio. any kind of website is possible in WordPress without any programming skills.
There are many plans companies provide in this category but you will get an entry-level plan in just $5 per month.
Some Other Features to Look in a Web Hosting Service Provider
There are some support features you should look at before choosing a web hosting service provider for your websites.
- A good web host provides 24/7 live support to their customers so always search for a hosting provider that offers this level of service.
- Before choosing any web host first figure out your base business country. Such as if you want to do your business in the US then you must choose a US-based hosting server. In that case, ask the web host if they have a US-based web server? Remember, speed is a very crucial factor for SEO, and a local server transfers data much faster than a server located in some other country.
- A local web hosting company can provide support in local language which is also and added benefit of choosing a home country server.
- If your web hosting company provides live chat or call option then it’s great.
- However, most of the web hosts claim 99.99% uptime, you must check some reviews on the web before going to choose any web host, especially get the insights about uptime.
Free web hosting vs paid web hosting
I strongly recommend you to not go with any free hosting plans. There are many reasons which will answer your why.
Free hosting is not reliable
Free web hosting provider doesn’t let you host your own TLD(Top Level) domain. They usually offer a 2nd level domain for hosting.
Virus attacks are common in free hosting plans.
Do not have all the functionally in Cpanel like paid hosting.
Although there is one advantage of free hosting. If you are a newbie and don’t want to invest in the start then you can use free hosting for learning purposes that how web hosting works. That’s only for learning.
But if you are serious about website development that I suggest you go only with paid hosting.
Best web hosting services for your website
There are many cheap web hosting services out there but who cares about your real needs. Actually, we can count them on fingers.
Here are the 2 best hosting service providers. I recommend you to choose one of them listed here because they give value for your money. They are reliable, provide the best customer support as well as suit your pocket.
Kinsta is in the web hosting field for many years. Although Kinsta is a giant in hosting services if you are a WordPress user then I strongly recommend you purchase your web hosting service from Kinsta. The claims 99.99% uptime guaranty.
And the best thing is, you can start your website with just $3.95/Month.
It’s probably the cheapest hosting service on our planet with just a $2.95 per month plan. But don’t underestimate Bluehost because is one of the biggest companies in the hosting field, serving millions of websites daily.
With one of the best customer support, it is one of my favorite hosting providers in the world.
So you just read the whole detail about what is web hosting. I think this article was cleared your all doubts about web hosting and now you are ready to create your own stunning website.
Best of luck with your new online business. and don’t forget to drop a comment about this article. I am just curious to know how this article helped you and what hosting plan you chose for your new website.
Sign up my newsletter and get informed with the latest useful article which I only write for you guys. If you have any questions regarding this article then the comment box is waiting for you.
Do share this post with others to give them a basic knowledge of web hosting and help them get success online.
You also Like