As you may have seen, this site talks a lot about webhosting. But what is webhosting actually? Let’s dive into the world of webhosting and use some simple explanations. I will try to keep this a simple as possible, but if you have any questions, drop a comment below!
What is webhosting: the basics
If you are reading this, I bet you either read this on a computer on a mobile device. On this device, you can run various programs, such as Word or Instagram.
A website is actually not so different from an actual program. It’s actually a piece of software that can run in your browser, and you can access it by typing in a certain domain. And there it becomes interesting: this domain is often connected to a computer which in turn is connected to the internet.
As you may know, a computer that is connected to the internet is usually called a server. On this server, special kinds of software exist that make it possible to run a website. And that, my friend, is called web hosting.
A simple metaphor that can help you to understand web hosting is the metaphor of a house and street number. Usually, your house will have a certain address, consisting of a street name and number. And usually, you pay for renting this house, or its mortgage.
This house can be decorated to your liking, as you can often decorate a website to your liking. In the end, this house is linked to an address. This address can be compared to a domain, such as ecosia.org, which is also linked to a server.
Webhosting is basically renting a space on a server, or sometimes a complete server. Like houses, servers can have all kinds of flavors. And at this space, you can set up your website, which in turn is accessible over a domain.
So what is webhosting? Simply said: renting a space on the internet to run a website on.
Different kinds of web hosting
Now that you hopefully understand what web hosting is, it would be good to see what different types of web hosting you can have in general. While there are many shapes and sizes of web hosting, the following four are the most common:
Shared Web hosting
With shared hosting, many sites are placed on one server. Each of these sites shares the resources of the same server, and hence it is called shared hosting.
Shared hosting is often very cheap, but also has limits on the number of files your website can have and how many visitors it can handle. And because you are sharing resources with other websites, it can also be slower. In some cases, it can also be less secure for the same reasons.
VPS is an abbreviation for Virtual Private Server (what is a VPS?). It is actually a virtual computer that is running on a larger, real server. A VPS often has a certain amount of resources such as storage, RAM, CPU cores, and bandwidth available. The storage determines how large your websites can be (and how many pictures you can store on a website), while bandwidth, RAM, and CPU typically influence how many visitors your website can handle.
With VPS hosting, you have your own (virtual) server with your own resources, isolated from other websites. And usually, this is faster than shared hosting but also slightly more expensive. Oddly enough, a VPS still shares its resources with other virtual machines on the same, real server. That means that in some cases, a VPS is having fewer resources than advertised.
VPS hosting can be either managed or unmanaged and often require some technical knowledge to run. There are many hosting providers that offer VPS hosting, and also many tools that make it much easier to manage a VPS yourself
Cloud hosting is a very reliable form of hosting, where your website basically will run on a network of multiple servers. This means that if one server goes down, or storage fails, your website will still be running.
It also means cloud hosting is scalable. When your website gets more visitors it needs to have more power, in other words, more resources. Simply said, for each visitor the server needs to do a small calculation.
Since cloud hosting basically runs on a network of servers, resources can automatically increase. That is particularly helpful if you, for example, get a lot of visitors which require more calculations, and thus more computing resources. And that’s what meant with scalable.
Cloud hosting is usually more expensive than shared or VPS hosting, but has a big advantage: resources are not fixed and you only need to pay for the resources you use.
Cloud and VPS hosting are sometimes used interchangeably as terms but aren’t similar. Multiple VPSes can be used to set-up Cloud hosting, but cloud hosting is not similar to VPS hosting.
Dedicated hosting is actually similar to renting a real computer, or server, from a hosting company. When you order dedicated hosting, a hosting company will set up a computer with certain characteristics; and make that computer accessible over the internet. Which, as I said, makes it a server.
And on these servers, all kinds of applications, such as websites, can be run. Similar to a VPS, dedicated servers have a certain amount of storage, RAM, CPU, and bandwidth. But with a dedicated server, these resources are guaranteed.
Dedicated servers can be really powerful, but also expensive and are not as scalable as cloud hosting.
A lot of larger companies also have their own dedicated servers and staff to manage these.
Web hosting for WordPress
A lot of companies provide hosting that is specialized for hosting WordPress, one of the most popular CMSes worldwide. Technically, this is often in one of the four forms I described before (from shared to dedicated hosting).
As this website is mainly about WordPress, there is a dedicated section to compare WordPress Hosting. In addition, there is also an amazing 5000-word article that helps you out picking the best WordPress hosting company.
If you are going to use WordPress, a hosting provider that is specialized in WordPress is a good idea, as they can also help you with WordPress related issues.
What is webhosting: the summary
So, what is webhosting? It’s renting (space on) a computer connected to the internet, on which you can run a website. This space can be easily accessed using a domain. Nothing more, nothing less.