Web Hosting Explained
Posted on 4 February 2020
Unsurprisingly not many people know what web hosting is. Specifically non “techy” people. Hopefully after this article you should know a bit more about website hosting and the different technologies used for hosting a website. Most importantly what web hosting is.
There is something that needs to be cleared up before anything. In case you didn’t know the World Wide Web and the Internet are completely different things. The internet was invented in the 1960’s by the US Government and the World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989.
This is important to know as web hosting is usually more than just hosting a website.
What exactly is “hosting a website”?
For a website to live and thrive it needs to reside on a computer (1 or more but we’ll get to that). These computers aren’t normally like your Laptop or Desktop you use for work. They are servers. Computers aimed to be super reliable. They’re normally very loud, cosmetically ugly and feature redundant components such as power supplies and hard drives.
These servers run software that takes the website and serves it up to anyone trying to access it from the rest of the internet.
This means in order for your website to be seen, your web hosting server needs to be switched on and connected to the internet constantly.
Servers need reliability so websites are usually hosted from data centres. Purpose built buildings with reliable high speed internet connections, backup generators, advanced cooling systems and a lot of wires and IT equipment.
The real costs of web hosting
The costs add up. Really fast internet, reliable power, storage, the cost of the server itself, etc… It’s a lot of expenses and this is where we hit a fork in the road. Reason being is, these costs can be distributed. Do you really need all that computing power to yourself? Not all web hosting is the same. You have got:
- Shared hosting
- Cloud hosting
- VPS hosting
- Dedicated hosting
What hosting is suitable for small businesses?
This is a hard question because a lot of our clients are small business, some of these use their site as a reference and will see 1-2 visitors a week whereas others may be getting 100-200 visitors a week or more. Let’s start with going into a little bit more detail about dedicated hosting.
Dedicated hosting is where you rent a server. It’s resources are yours and yours only. For most this is too much. You would be lucky to get a low spec dedicated server for less than £150 per month. You’d be even luckier to get a dedicated server for that much in reliable data centre. If you’re business is using the server for hosting a busy website, this may be one of your only options. A lot of traffic means a lot of resources.
- Resources are 100% your own
- Should be more secure than shared or VPS
- High costs in comparison to other setups
- More responsibilities than shared hosting, cloud hosting and VPS hosting
Colocation is basically the same as dedicated hosting however you take on a lot more responsibilities. You rent the space and the connection. You supply the server. It doesn’t normally work out cheaper than dedicated hosting. Monthly costs may be less but once you work out the cost of the server and then divide this over 5 years it starts adding up. That’s why colocation is only really ideal for special situations where you may need a lot of one component and less of another.
An example of this may be a web server used for storing a lot of files accessed by a fairly small group of people. You don’t particularly want lots of RAM or a fast CPU but you want a lot of TB’s worth of storage available.
- You know exactly what hardware you are using
- Resources are 100% your own
- Can be expensive
- More responsibility than dedicated hosting
VPS hosting is where you have multiple virtual machines sitting on a dedicated server. So your physical server becomes 2 or 3 or 4 or so on. It’s costs are more in the middle but you are now sharing resources but you’ve got allocated resources so you don’t have to worry about someone having a website on a separate VPS and it effecting yours.
The good thing about VPS hosting is that they tend to be scalable because not all of the resources are allocated yet. So if your site grows your hosting and associated costs can grow with it.
- Guaranteed resources
- Not as expensive as Colocation or Dedicated
- Shared hardware
- More expensive than shared
- Usually more responsibility than shared
Shared hosting is where you are sharing resources with other sites. This is the cheapest way of having a website online but does mean that your web host can make or break your site by loading their server up with too many shared hosting accounts or an amount that saves you money but doesn’t have a noticeable effect on performance. For a lot of small businesses this is the answer.
- Low costs
- Low responsibilities – Maintenance is normally managed by the company with control of the server
- Can be problematic with overloaded servers
- Less control over software
Cloud hosting is where you have a cluster of servers, usually virtual servers (VPS) that serve up websites. If one physical server breaks down your site stays up. If the internet connection becomes disconnected your site theoretically should stay up. It’s the most reliable method for web hosting but does come at a cost.
- Low responsibilities – Maintenance is normally managed by the company that controls the cluster
Too long, didn’t read? Well hosting is basically 1 or more computers or part of a computer that you hire which runs software that serves up your website to anyone requesting it.
Why did you need to know about WWW and the Internet being different?
Web hosting usually features more than just hosting a website (the WWW part). Some hosts provide email, some do not. Some provide FTP access, some do not. It’s always a good idea to find out more about what services your website does or does not offer and why. Are they more concerned about additional features? Security? Reliability? These are all important factors and if you’re unsure on how many sites are sharing a server with you, it may be worth asking or doing a reverse IP lookup. You’re better off not being hosted on the same IP as spammy sites.
And that concludes are blog post. For more information on our hosting services please follow the link below and get in touch today.