What Is Web Hosting?

Every website you have ever clicked onto is “hosted” on the internet, but what does that mean, and how do you go about getting a host for your new website? When you visit a website the data you are looking at is stored on a computer somewhere in the world.

So How Do You Get A Website Hosted?

You go to a hosting provider, who will usually maintain a large “bank” of many servers, and pay them to give you an agreed amount of space on one of these computers to store your website. Their job is then to maintain the servers, fixing them if they break down, and keep your website online to the best of their ability.

What Makes A Server Special?

Web hosting servers are not so different from your home computer, but they have a number of small changes to optimize them for the job they do. Stability is hugely important, you want your server to be online without interruption as much as possible. Because of this a lot of web servers run with the operating system Linux because it is more suited to the web hosting environment.

Servers have many of the same key components you will be familiar with as a home desktop user, they have an amount of storage that determines how much “webspace” they can offer to the sites they host, they have RAM which allows them to run smoothly and they have the software installed on them which enables the websites held within to operate more complex features.

Shared Hosting vs. A Dedicated Server

Web hosting can be expensive for larger sites that handle a lot of traffic, shared hosting is a way of bringing down the cost of hosting your website. With a shared hosting account, your website will sit on a single computer along with other websites. Each website hosted on the server is sharing the cost of keeping that server running, so the amount you pay is considerably less. If you are starting out with your first website then shared hosting is a great way to get up and running at a low cost, you can also scale up as you go, so if you are not sure how much web space you will need, you can start small and add more as your site grows.

Shared hosting technology is very secure, however, it is worth remembering that with this kind of shared server access, if another website on your server is infiltrated by a hack or virus, this may also affect your site indirectly.

Large sites that receive a high volume of traffic, or contain a huge volume of data, will run on one or more servers of their own, this is called dedicated hosting. When a website has a server all to itself this can make it load faster, gives you considerably more web space and bandwidth to play with plus more flexibility when customizing server software packages. However, you will be covering the cost of running the server entirely so this is more expensive.

What To Expect As Standard

The following are often includes with any basic level of paid web hosting:

Control Panel Access: You will be given access to your hosting package to maintain and manage it, depending on the control panel your hosting company offers, this can contain many useful free features, including web traffic reports, bandwidth reports, webspace stats, and email management.

Email Addresses: Your domain will have a limited number of email accounts you can create, but you should expect some to be included in any basic hosting account. You can then purchase extra accounts if required.

Backups: It is usual for a web hosting to run scheduled backups or your website on a paid plan, which is good for peace of mind, but you should also make sure you have a local backup which you have access too should you wish to move the site to a new server.

Web Hosting Products You May Need To Pay For

When you purchase web hosting you will be presented with many packages, tiers of quality, and add-ons which will incline in price.

Web Space: This is the physical space that your website will sit on, think of it as space on your computer for storing files. It is important to remember that everything you put online has to be downloaded by the viewer through their internet connection, this means web content is optimized to be smaller in size. The amount of space you require will depend on what you want to do with the site.

Bandwidth: Data transfer is important, think of it like data usage on your phone, if you run out before the end of the month your website can be cur off and will not be live again until the next billing period. Bandwidth is used every time someone visits your site and loads the content on it. Bandwidth can be increased as your website grows, so start small then scale up from there.

PHP: This is a popular server-side programming language used to code complex scripts on the website. Server-side means the code you add to your site will only activate when it runs from the server, so you must ensure your server has PHP installed before adding code to your pages, or it won’t work. PHP is extremely common among paid hosting plans as a default feature, you should not expect to pay additional costs to have this added to your hosting package.

Databases: You may want to store data on your website, either publicly or privately. Almost any advanced web-based platform is going to require the use of a database. A single database can be utilized for multiple projects, so you may only need one, but you should expect to pay an extra fee for use of one or more databases. You may never need to access the database directly yourself if you’re unsure what you will need you should consult your web designer with an outline of what you want to achieve.

Paying For Your Hosting

Web hosting companies usually offer monthly or annual payment terms. Shop around before you buy as there are a huge number of suppliers offering a wide variety of packages. The cheapest provider may not always be the best.

Moving To A New Host

Moving your website from one host to another can be simple, depending on the complexity of your data. For a basic collection of text and image pages, you need only download your complete site and then upload it to your new hosting account, or upload it directly from a local backup on your computer. A web host may be able to help you move your site, so don’t be afraid to ask.


Now that you know a bit more about website hosting and what it entails, Foxx Design is here to assist you with all your requirements when it comes to web hosting.