What Is Web Hosting?

If you want to start a website, whether it is a blog about something that interests you, a showcase for your photography or other work, or a site for your business, there are a few things you will need to get started.

One of these is, of course, a website design, which you can either have done professionally or do yourself using one of the many products out there for this, such as WordPress. While for some simple website projects, like personal blogs that you don't expect to see a huge amount of traffic, you can simply publish with a free blog hosting site like WordPress itself or Blogger, for most sites you will also need a domain name of your own, and somewhere to host your site.

Here, we are going to look at why it is important for sites to have their own hosting and domains, and what is involved in getting your site set up with the right type of hosting for your needs.

Why Does Your Site Need Its Own Host and Domain If Free Options Are Available?

Free options like publishing your website with a WordPress URL restrict you in some ways. One important point is that you will be heavily restricted if you want to monetize your site in any way, as most methods of advertising are not accepted on sites that are hosted in this way, due to the fact the person who owns the site doesn't truly own its space on the web, which can lead to legal issues. If your site is intended to make any money at all. Even from things like Amazon affiliate marketing or Google Ads, you will need to own the domain and have a proper hosting arrangement.

Another factor is that sites simply look more professional when they have their own memorable URL. For the small expense of a domain and hosting, you can show that your site is not an amateur endeavor but something that has been done with some care and commitment. Again, free blog sites are really just designed for people who want to have a small scale personal blog, so that there is no barrier to anybody doing this. They are not designed to be used by professional bloggers or businesses, and this is something that blog readers tend to be aware of.

A third reason why you want professional hosting on your own domain is that it helps your brand be more memorable. Your web address itself can be a memorable piece of branding, and you can be sure that people will be able to find your site easily just by knowing your company name if you are able to use that as your domain name.

So, What Are You Actually Buying When You Arrange for Web Hosting?

When you arrange for your site to be hosted by a web hosting company, you are essentially buying space on their servers or cloud, and their commitment to keep your site up and running at the levels agreed in your contract. All of the maintenance and support needed to keep your site at the agreed high level of uptime becomes the responsibility of your hosting provider, and back-ups and security are also part of the deal. This is the case whatever kind of web hosting you opt for, though how it is done and to what extent depends on the type of hosting you go for and what is in your agreement with your host.

What Are the Different Types of Web Hosting You Can Consider?

There are several different ways sites can be hosted, and which one is right for you depends on a number of factors, although increasingly, cloud based hosting is becoming the best all round option for the vast majority of sites and online enterprises.

The smallest scale kind of web hosting is shared server hosting. This is where your site is housed on a physical server and shares the resources of that server with other websites. This used to be the best choice for people who wanted a cheap option that was suitable for a small website that wasn't expecting to grow in scale very suddenly. There are a lot of downsides to having a site on one physical server, because downtime and limited resources can be a factor when you are limited to just the one machine, shared with other sites that are also drawing on that machine's resources. However, it was a good, cheap way of doing things for non mission critical sites with a limited audience size, like small local business sites or personal blogs.

Another type of hosting is dedicated server hosting. This is where the site is hosted on a physical server, but that server is only used for that website. This is usually the most expensive option, and is usually only best suited to large scale business websites that need that amount of server capacity, for example sites that have to host things like software as a service (SaaS), sites that have large databases at the back end, or sites which have thousands of concurrent sessions with users writing to the server.

Now, these types of hosting are still in use, and there are still cases where they can be the better option. However, in the past few years, cloud web hosting has become pretty much the norm for websites of all sizes - from large scale ecommerce sites through to small business blogs. Cloud hosting is where your site exists on a virtual server, which can draw resources from the cloud - that is, it has access to resources from numerous different machines, which can be supplied to it as and when needed.

The reasons why cloud hosting has proven superior in so many scenarios are many. Firstly, there are no issues when sites suddenly receive a big spike in usage - the site can be supplied with any resources it needs to support its traffic as it happens. Secondly, the site owners are billed for the resources they actually use, making it generally very cost effective (assuming that large spikes in traffic equate to large spikes in revenue!). Thirdly, it offers the best in terms of reliability, as cloud hosting has inherent redundancy and the failure of a machine will not impact the availability of the sites hosted on the cloud it is connected to.

As you can see, web hosting really isn't a complicated thing to organize for your new site, and so if you look for a good cloud hosting package you will be able to publish your site as soon as you are ready to go. Many hosts will also allow you to arrange to buy the domain name you want as part of the package too, which means all you have to do is create your site!

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