Navigating the world of web hosting could be a bit like figuring out taxes for the first time.
It gets confusing.
There are all these terms you don’t know and all these types of web hosting you might not understand.
How are you supposed to begin building your dream website, then?
Don’t worry, we’re here to help you out.
Today, we will be talking about all things web hosting.
What is web hosting?
Why do you need web hosting?
What on earth is it for, and why are there so many types?
Stick around, we’ll answer all of your questions and more.
Once we’re through, hopefully, you’ll know exactly which web hosting type you need.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is a service provided by companies that let you put your website out into the world.
It works by putting your files on servers, making them available to anyone online as long as they have your domain or IP address.
Think of it as renting a virtual space on the web to put up shop.
Without web hosting, your ideas and files will remain sitting in that computer folder, hidden from anyone.
Who needs Web Hosting?
Everyone who has ever thought of putting up a website needs web hosting.
Heck, every website on earth needs web hosting.
You’re reading this article right now on a website that uses web hosting.
Without web hosting, your favorite websites would not exist.
You might think websites are as simple as typing their domain name and clicking a few links.
Everything looks easy for the customer on the surface, but there are a lot of complex, crazy things happening with just one click online.
And all of that crazy is managed by web hosting plans and providers.
Glossary: Common Web Hosting Terms
Web hosting is a topic that can easily make anyone’s head spin -- especially beginners.
In part, it’s because the jargon could be a bit intimidating at first.
But don’t worry, we totally get you.
We won’t let you drown in all these terms!
We’ve put together a short glossary of terms with their definitions.
The next time you encounter these in your quest for the best web hosting, you’ll finally know what they mean.
Bandwidth: Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred over the internet at any given time. This happens when people visit your site, browse, and upload or download files.
CMS: This stands for Content Management Systems, a software that helps organize and manage website content efficiently. You won’t have to code it since most CMS can be done in one-click installs. Some popular CMS are WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
Control Panel: A control panel (or Cpanel) lets you manage all your web hosting accounts and websites in one place. It allows you to manage emails, do one-click installs, backup your website, install applications, etc.
Disk space/Storage: Disk space is the maximum amount of files and data your server allocation lets you store. Aside from images and videos, it enables you to keep emails, pages, and more. The amount of disk space varies from one hosting plan to another.
Domain name: Your domain name is what people will type on the URL to visit your website. Think of your website as a house and your domain name as your address. For example, the website you’re reading now has the domain name comparehostingsites.com. You can register any domain you’d like as long as it is available.
IP address: Internet Protocol address or IP address is a numerical label unique to your computer/device/website. The string of numbers identifies your server location.
RAM: This stands for Random Access Memory. It temporarily stores data when your website is running multiple processes. Think of a dinner table you set up when you need to eat. The plates, cups, and utensils are only there during the meal, and they’re stored away after. The bigger the table, the more space for you and your family to move around. Therefore, the larger your web hosting’s RAM is, the better your site performance will be.
Scalability: Scalability is a factor that helps your website grow. It allows you to effortlessly add resources like bandwidth and disk space to meet your website’s ever-growing need.
SSL: Every good web hosting plan, no matter how basic, should come with a Secure Sockets Layer or SSL. It encrypts transactions on your website, ensuring any sensitive information, such as credit card info, is secure. Websites with SSL start with “HTTPS.”
Uptime/Downtime: Uptime is the amount of time your website can be accessed uninterrupted. Downtime is the opposite. Good web host providers should be able to offer a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
Website migration: The process of transferring all your website’s files and data to another web host. Website migration happens if customers want to change their domain name, switch to another provider, or upgrade/downgrade servers.
Web Hosting vs Website Builder: What’s the Difference?
Based on everything we’ve talked about so far, we know that web hosting is a service that puts your files on servers to be accessed online.
What are website builders, then?
First off, they are not the same.
As its name suggests, website builders is a software tool that lets you easily build a website.
Its main advantages are:
- Website building in a few clicks without the effort of coding
- Customized themes and hundreds of templates to choose from
- Easy-to-use drag and drop features that even the most beginner of beginners can figure out
- Resumes, portfolios, and profiles in just a few minutes
Website builders almost sound perfect but their main disadvantage is that it’s limited.
You can only create a few pages, enough for a small profile, and that’s it.
Simply put, web hosting is essential in starting any website since it lets your website exist on the internet.
On the other hand, website builders are in charge of making your web design look appealing to your visitors.
Some great website builders you can use are Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.
So which one is better?
We recommend going for web hosting which gives you better control over your website.
Web hosting lets you purchase your own domain, create multiple sites, emails, and scale your resources.
You should only go for website builders if you only need a few pages for your resume, profile, or business.
Types of Web Hosting
Web hosting isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, they come in different types for different circumstances.
You shouldn’t be choosing the same web hosting for a high-traffic eCommerce site and a low-traffic personal portfolio.
Each hosting type gives you varying limits when it comes to resources like disk space, bandwidth, and RAM.
Lucky for us, there aren’t hundreds of types to choose from.
Let’s take a closer look at the four main types of web hosting:
Shared hosting is the most basic type of hosting, and many prefer it for its affordability.
You can get a website up and running for as low as $2.75/month, sometimes even lower, thanks to promos and discounts.
Why is it so cheap?
As its name implies, shared hosting works by housing hundreds, sometimes up to thousands, of websites on a single physical server.
All these websites share the same pool of resources such as RAM, bandwidth, and storage space.
But while it’s cheap and affordable, shared hosting’s limited resources put a cap on what you can do.
You can’t accommodate moderate to high website traffic, or you’ll risk slowing your website down.
Since you’re sharing a single server, you’re more vulnerable to online threats too.
If one of the other websites gets hacked or loaded with a virus, not only would it slow your site down, it could also put your sensitive information in danger.
However, shared hosting is still the best choice for those with little to no knowledge of servers and hosting.
Your web host provider will take care of your needs from website maintenance, security updates, and even easy, pre-made website templates.
Here are our top web host provider recommendations for shared hosting:
Virtual Private Server, or VPS hosting, is what you choose once you’ve outgrown the limits of shared hosting.
Let’s say your website traffic picks up. Plus, you need a little more room to control your server.
VPS hosting is a powerful middle ground that acts like dedicated hosting minus the price.
With VPS hosting, you’re still housed on a physical server with other websites, but you’re separated with virtual partition technology this time.
The partition lets you own a chunk of the server and gives you dedicated resources.
That means you get better portions for RAM, bandwidth, storage space, and more.
Since you’ve got an independent space, you also won’t have to fear security breaches caused by other websites.
And if you’ve reached your resource limit, VPS hosting is so scalable you can add more with just one click.
The downside is that you have to have technical knowledge to maintain your portion of the server and customize it.
Otherwise, you can’t maximize the full potential of VPS hosting.
Here are our top web host provider recommendations for VPS hosting:
The most expensive type of hosting is dedicated hosting.
This works by letting you rent a single physical server all to yourself.
Just how expensive, you ask?
Dedicated hosting plans can start anywhere between $70 to $100/month.
Why should you consider paying such a huge sum?
You’ve got no website neighbors, no sharing of resources -- everything is dedicated to you.
You’re all alone on that server, and you can reap its benefits: dedicated resources, the best website performance, and total control.
You get to customize any part of the server to fit your websites better.
This includes adding security software to make sure all your sensitive information is guarded.
Of course, if you’re renting a dedicated server, you would need someone on your team with the proper technical expertise.
Otherwise, you’d have to get someone from your web hosting provider to maintain your server for you, and that’s even more expensive.
Here are our top web host provider recommendations for dedicated hosting:
The fourth main type of hosting is cloud hosting.
Many compare it to VPS hosting, but cloud hosting is actually in a league of its own.
It uses interconnected virtual servers called ‘the cloud’ to store your files.
You won’t have to rely on one physical server or a portion of it.
When one of your virtual servers goes down in cloud hosting, the others will cover for it and keep your site up and running.
This is why many prefer cloud hosting for its impressive uptime rates.
Cloud hosting also saves your money by letting you pay for resources on demand.
But since it’s internet-based, this type of hosting is more vulnerable to online threats.
You have to build your security software for peace of mind.
Overall, cloud hosting is an excellent choice for websites experiencing moderate to heavy traffic.
Here are our top web host provider recommendations for cloud hosting:
Other types of Web Hosting
Apart from the four main types, you might also come across other types of web hosting such as:
WordPress Hosting: As its name suggests, WordPress hosting is a type of hosting optimized for WordPress. It gets you the latest version plus hundreds of one-click installs to make your site look better.
Reseller Hosting: This type of hosting is a business unto itself. It works by letting a person or a company buy the web hosting wholesale to sell it to customers with profit. Think of it as purchasing apartments and letting other people rent them with added cost.
Business Hosting: Business hosting is the middle ground between shared hosting and VPS hosting. It gives you the benefits of VPS hosting minus the part where you have to manage the server yourself. It’s perfect for business owners who want to focus more on their businesses over maintaining the site.
How to Choose the Right Hosting for Your Website
So now that you’ve learned all the web hosting types and brushed up on the web hosting jargon, it’s time for you to decide.
Which web hosting is suitable for your site?
Here’s the thing, we can’t give you a specific answer.
In the end, you’ll have to decide for yourself which web hosting perfectly fits your site.
If you’re still confused, here are a few guide questions that will push you in the right direction:
- What kind of website are you building? Is it a personal low-traffic blog, a moderate-traffic company site, or a high-traffic eCommerce website?
- What are your goals for this website? Do you have plans to turn it into a high-traffic site in the future? If yes, you’ll need scalable hosting.
- Do you know anything about building a website? Most web hosting types need you to get your hands busy customizing the server.
- What’s your budget? It all boils down to the pricing and if you can afford the renewal rates.
Elements to Consider For a Great Web Hosting Provider
You now have a clear answer for which web hosting type to go for after answering the guide questions.
Now, you get to choose a web hosting provider to meet all your website needs.
Web host providers come in different kinds and sizes (not to mention prices), so how will you know which is the best one?
Keep these elements to a great web host in mind:
Reliability and Performance: Everyone hates slow websites. Slow websites frustrate your customers, so they’ll bounce from your site and go to your competitor’s. A reliable web host provider should be able to support your website’s speed and uptimes. Look for that 99.9% uptime guarantee and a history to back it up.
Pricing: Initial rates for web hosting plans are attractive but watch out for the renewal rates. They tend to triple once your first term ends. Tip: Calculate your expenses using the renewal rate to see if you can afford it.
Security: Online threats abound, so make sure that your web hosting provider has got your back covered. It should come with SSL certificates, at the least. They should also offer solid firewalls and protection against hackers and malware.
Bandwidth and storage: Your bandwidth and storage will depend on the website you’re planning. If it’s heavy on images and videos, you might want to get plans with higher storage. The same goes for bandwidth if you’re expecting website traffic to pick up in a few months. Watch out for “unlimited” bandwidth and storage since, technically, these aren’t really unlimited. You might find yourself paying a hefty fee or a penalty once you go overboard.
Upgrade options: You want to be sure you have room to grow. Choose a web hosting type that lets you scale on resources if you need it in the future.
Customer support: Look for a web host provider that will give you access to 24/7 expert customer service. This will be a huge help when you’ve hit snags on the road.
Read up on the Best Web Hosting Providers 2023.
And there you have it!
That’s almost everything you need to know as a beginner on web hosting.
You can now confidently differentiate the types of web hosting and determine how to choose the right one for your website.
Now that you know you need web hosting, the next step is to actually choose a type and a provider.
But don’t be intimidated by the task.
Take your time to slowly build your knowledge on web hosting until you’re confident.
Do you have an answer now?
Let us know which web hosting type you’re going to go for!