For anyone starting out with their first website, one of the foundations which need to be in place for that website to exist, or more accurately for anyone to be able to visit that website, is a website hosting service. If this is the first time you have planned to launch a website, the functions and jargon that applies to web hosting might not all be clear, and thus we thought it would be useful if we offered some basic guidelines for beginners.
We must make clear that what you are about to read is as generic as we could make it so the information should apply to most of the web hosting services you might be considering. For details on the specific hosting services any provider offers, you will need to speak to them directly, especially if they have various plans available which offer different options.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is the means by which all the files that constitute the design, structure, and functions of your website can be stored and made available for internet users to visit online. A simple analogy would be to see your domain name as comparable with your home address and just as your house is the place where all your belongings are kept, your hosting service is where the files for your website are stored.
What Is Bandwidth?
Bandwidth is a measure of how much data can flow between visitors and your website. Think of it as a type of flow regulator, in the same way you adjust the flow of water from a garden hose that has an adjustable nozzle. The higher your bandwidth allowance the faster your website will load, and the better the experience will be for visitors.
What Is Disc Space?
This is simply the amount of storage space that your hosting provider has allocated for your website on their server. This will include all the files that actually are used to produce your website, such as the graphics, the software, and the content. Obviously the larger and more use there is of larger files, such as videos, the more disc space you will need.
What is Uptime?
Uptime is normally measured as a percentage rather than in hours and minutes, and most hosting services offer a minimum uptime guarantee, which, for the better hosting providers is 99.99%. As a website owner, you want your website to be live as much as possible and uptime is critical to that.
Different Types Of Web Hosting
There are several different types of web hosting services, although unless you have a large business or organisation, it is unlikely that you will ever use more than one of these.
Shared Hosting: This is the most common, and also the cheapest form of web hosting. It means your website’s files are on a server that also hosts other websites.
Virtual Private Server (VPS): This more suited to medium-sized businesses and is the next step up from shared hosting. With VPS your website is still on a shared server, but the number of other websites using that specific server is far fewer. This provides greater performance for your websites such as enhanced load speeds and uptime.
Dedicated Hosting: This form of hosting is suited to large companies and organisations who require the best possible website performance, and who may have significant levels of internet traffic. As the name suggests the website is hosted on a single dedicated server, meaning no other websites share it.
WordPress Hosting: For those websites which are built using WordPress then WordPress hosting is often the most sensible option. It provides enhanced security for WordPress websites and is a relatively inexpensive option.
Cloud Hosting: This one of the newer types of hosting and is a form of VPS hosting that often costs less. It utilises a number of remote servers that each facilitate a different aspect of the hosting process. As a result website reliability and load speeds are extremely high.