What is hosting?

Web hosting definition

When a hosting provider allocates space on a web server for a website to store its files, they are hosting a website. Web hosting makes the files that comprise a website (code, images, etc.) available for viewing online. Every website you’ve ever visited is hosted on a server. 

Web hosting is part and parcel of making a website available online. It's not a matter of if you need it, it's more a case of which one to choose.

In a nutshell, web hosting is the process of renting or buying space to house a website on the World Wide Web. Website content such as HTML, CSS, and images has to be housed on a server to be viewable online.

What exactly is a server? A server is a computer that connects other web users to your site from anywhere in the world. As the name implies, web hosting service providers have the servers, connectivity, and associated services to host websites. By offering a variety of hosting plans, they cover the spectrum of hosting needs, from small blogs and large organizations.

If you’re planning on creating an online presence, reliable web hosting is essential. There are literally hundreds of web hosts available today providing thousands of varieties of web hosting services. Plans range from free with limited options to expensive web hosting services specialized for business. The plan you choose will depend primarily on how you plan to use your website and how much you have budgeted for hosting.

Choosing the right hosting plan will mean having access to the right allocation of resources to keep your website loading quickly and reliably for your visitors. Think about how many businesses these days operate primarily online; their sales and business leads come from their website. If someone lands on a website and there's a problem — it takes too long to load or doesn't appear at all — potential customers won't wait around. They'll bounce off that site in search of a one that works correctly and can deliver what they are looking for, seamlessly.

If you’re new to operating a website, web hosting and related lingo can be a puzzling topic. Many a novice website owner has used the cheapest option or anything bundled with their domain name purchase under the mistaken belief that all hosting options are essentially the same.

This can be a costly mistake.

Web hosting happens when the files that make up a website are uploaded from a local computer on to a web server. The server’s resources, (RAM, hard drive space, and bandwidth) are allocated to the websites using it. 

It's important that you select the hosting plan that will provide your site with the power to handle the copious amount of visitors you receive so it won't slow down or crash.

 

Web hosting and domain hosting

Once you’ve purchased a domain name, the files that hold your website’s content (HTML, CSS, images, databases, etc.) need to be stored together in a location connected to the internet — a web server. Once the website’s files are uploaded to a hosting company’s web server, the host is then responsible for delivering the files to users.

We’ve mentioned that hosting makes websites available for people to visit through their web browser, but how does that work exactly? The domain name system (DNS) makes sure that website browser connects to the right computer (server) that stores your website files.

Recommended reading: What is DNS? →

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