When it comes to Internet lingo and terminology, few concepts are thrown around more and understood less than the idea of web hosting. You’d be surprised at how few people actually understand how web hosting works on any kind of deep level. While it’s not critical for the average layman to know the ins and outs of web hosting, we believe that it’s important to at least comprehend the fundamentals. Fortunately, web hosting isn’t as complicated as you might think. Here’s a quick primer on the absolute essentials.
What Is Web Hosting?
In the simplest terms, web hosting is a way to give content a “home” online. That content can take the form of text, images or multimedia stored in a variety of file formats. Think of a website as a postal address of sorts. From that address, you can send and receive data. That digital cyberspace address needs to have a physical home, which is typically a special type of computer known as a server. Files reside on servers much as they would on your home PC.
How Web Hosting Works
Much like your home desktop or laptop computers, servers store a variety of files in a structured arrangement on their hard drives. The trick is getting HTML files and web resources from those servers when you type a website URL into a browser’s address bar. In order to do so, websites use the Domain Name System to associate a domain like “examplesite.com” with a particular server machine. Once a domain name is associated with a site, anyone can request files from that server from any location.
Why Do I Need It?
If you plan on launching and administering any kind of website, whether it’s a static page for a business or a dynamic site like a blog, you’ll need hosting of some kind. Theoretically, you could host a website from your home. However, that’s not really the best option. For one thing, your ISP may not allow you to do so. Even if they do, it’s less hassle to simply pay a web host for storage space. Furthermore, there are SEO benefits that come with using a fast, reputable web host to run your site.
Common Hosting Options
There are basically two ways to host content on the web. You can either rely on an established website to host your content or you can create your own domain and hosting account. The former option is commonly associated with sites like WordPress, Blogger, Svbtle and Medium which allow anyone to create simple blogs without having to pay for a domain name, storage space or bandwidth. More commonly, webmasters rent space from companies like Web Hosting Canada or GreenGeeks. Rudimentary web hosting can be had for as little as $5 per month.
The Right Hosting for You
Understanding the basics of web hosting is just the tip of the iceberg. Selecting the appropriate solution for your own particular needs is another matter. If you want to publish a community page or online bulletin board, free hosting is probably the best choice. For every other scenario, you’ll want to get a hosting account of your own over which you have total control. It won’t cost much and you’ll have peace of mind that the data you store online is truly in your hands.