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What Is Web Hosting? Your Ultimate Guide To Web Hosting Services

Web hosting. You’ve probably heard of it, and everyone agrees it’s important – but what actually is it?

Without hosting, your website can’t go live on the internet. Hosting providers give you the tools and server space you need to get your site hosted, live, and ready for visitors!

We’ve done the research, and we can tell you right now the best hosting providers are:

  • HostGator
  • Bluehost
  • GoDaddy Hosting

If hosting is like your website’s house, hosting providers like these are your construction team. But how do you choose a web host? Are there different types of hosting? You’re in the right place to find out.

What Is Web Hosting? A Beginner’s Definition

Web hosting is a service that lets you publish your website live on the internet. Just as you need somewhere to live, your website does too!

hosting provider is an organization that supplies the tech you need to get your site hosted. They’re a bit like housebuilders in the real world.

These web hosts provide the servers that deliver your site to your users. To simplify things, servers are computers that deliver web pages. They act as a storehouse for data that connects your website with browsers.

Website builders like Wix sort out hosting for you, so you can publish your website without worrying about hosting at all. But in all other cases, you will need a website host to get your website live.

Luckily, the hardest part is choosing your hosting provider – then they take care of the rest! So don’t worry if you’re not technical. Web hosting companies manage the technical side of keeping your site running for you. What’s important at this stage is understanding whyyou need a hosting provider.

Without the server supplied by a hosting provider, nobody could connect to your website. Basically, your website is delivered to visitors from your hosting provider’s server. So your website gets sent to the user’s computer when they search your website’s address.

For those of you wondering just how people find your website, here’s a quick summary. Servers come with IP Addresses: a series of numbers that identify a particular computer.

Here’s an example of a made-up IP Address: 88.348.88.1.

Not the easiest thing to remember! Which is why domains exist. A domain is your website’s personalized address, such as www.websitebuilderexpert.com or www.google.com. A custom domain helps to identify your website and inspires trust in your visitors! So it’s worth getting a custom domain that reflects your website and is easy to remember.

Domains convert IP Addresses into easy-to-remember words. They work like the street name and number of your website’s ‘house’.

domain name example
Your domain name identifies your site. Here’s our domain name highlighted in the URL bar.

You need a domain name and hosting if you want to run a website.

You can buy your domain name and your hosting from the same provider, making it easier to manage, connect and renew. Or, you can buy your domain from somewhere like Namecheap, then simply connect it to your chosen hosting provider.

For example, if you’ve built a website on WordPress, you will need a hosting provider and a domain name. Without a server, nobody will be able to find or connect to your website.

Domain Names And Changing Your Hosting Provider

Once you’ve secured your domain name, you don’t want to lose it, right? After all, a domain name is like a brand name. It’s how your users know you.

If you’re asking, ‘what is web hosting?’, you’re probably also worried about losing your domain name if you switch hosting provider.

Moving hosting provider does not mean you will lose your website’s name.

With a registered domain name, you have the right to transfer the name wherever you want. You just need to transfer your site’s files and data (your hosting provider will help you here, it’s easier than it sounds!), then edit your domain settings and direct them to your new hosting provider.

Think of your domain name as like your phone number: you can move network provider but still keep your number. In the same way, you can move hosting provider but keep your domain name.

A big part of ‘what is hosting?’ is: how much does hosting cost?

This is a difficult one to answer – it’s not like asking how much a can of cola costs.Your hosting bill will depend on your provider and the plan you choose: the better the plan, the more dollars you’ll need to spend.

Decent shared hosting packages typically start from as little as $2-10/month. HostGator’s Hatchling plan, for example, costs just $2.75/month – less than a Starbucks latte.

If your website needs more hosting firepower, you can expect to pay $100+ a month for a dedicated plan. HostGator’s Pro dedicated hosting plan, for example, comes in at $129/month. Some dedicated server pricing plans are over $2,000 monthly. Only large sites or established brands will need an advanced, dedicated hosting plan, though.

Somewhere between shared and dedicated hosting, VPS (Virtual Private Server) packages will set you back between $20 and $50 a month.

Confused about dedicated and shared hosting? Wondering which web hosting service is right for you?
Stick around, we’re covering that next.

Different Web Hosting Options

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at different hosting options and how to pick the right one for you.

The main types of hosting plans are:

  • Website builder
  • Shared hosting
  • Dedicated hosting
  • VPS hosting
  • Cloud hosting

Which hosting option is right for you will depend on budget, ambitions for your site, and the service offered by the web hoster.

Website Builders and Hosting

One of the simplest ways to sort out hosting is through a website builder. As part of your plan, all the technical maintenance of your website is taken care of, including hosting.

It’s why website builders are among the quickest and easiest ways to build your online presence.

They’re also one of the most cost-effective. Many website builders have free plans, with premium options available for under $20/month. For instance, Wix’s Unlimited plan only costs $14 a month, has no cap on bandwidth, and offers a solid 10GB of storage. This matches up respectably with the market’s best web hosting services.

Plus, with website builders, you get a host of features to help grow your site. Popular website builders include Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly.

Having the hosting included leaves you free to focus on designing and running your website. All you need to do is create your site, hit publish, and your pages are live on the internet. Simple as that!

Best for: people without much tech experience or looking to get a website up fast.

Shared Web Hosting

So what is hosting when it’s shared? The clue’s in the name: you use the same server as a bunch of other websites (they’re a bit like flatmates). Because you split the server, it’s the cheapest hosting option around.

The main downside is that your website’s performance can be affected by the sites you share a server with. If they use up too much technical resource, your site can slow down.

But don’t worry! Your hosting provider will monitor this to make sure each site is getting the best out of this plan. This is one of the reasons it’s important to choose a good provider, so you can trust them to manage your website’s plan well.

Most hosting brands offer this type of hosting. In fact, the only provider that doesn’t provide shared hosting is InMotion. HostGator, Bluehost, SiteGround, and GoDaddy Hosting are all popular providers who can give you a shared hosting plan.

Best for: your first steps. If you are just launching your small business or web page online, or run a small website with modest traffic,shared web hosting is a great option to keep costs down.

Dedicated Web Hosting

A dedicated web hosting service is where you are the sole tenant of a server. Your site’s performance won’t be affected negatively by other websites. You also get more tailored features and better security.

This is a step up in hosting plan, and it shows: for one thing, dedicated hosting packages cost more than shared ones.

Dedicated hosting is used for a higher level of control, because that server is yours alone rather than shared. Better security and uptime are other perks of this hosting type!

Dedicated hosting is perfect if you need lots of disk space (if you’ve got a big email database, for example).

While iPage and HostPapa don’t offer dedicated hosting, all the other brands in our top list do! GoDaddy Hosting offers competitive prices starting from $55.99.

Best for: fast growing websites! The key for this is having a good level of traffic to your website. If you’re a business or online store, dedicated hosting is the right call if you’re generating solid virtual footfall and sales.

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