What is Website Hosting?

May 11, 2008 business
This post is more than 18 months old. Since technology changes too rapidly, this content may be out of date (but that's not always the case). Please remember to verify any technical or programming information with the current release.

What is website hosting and why do you need it? Those are two very important questions.

Web Sites are Hosted on Computers

Every website resides on a computer somewhere. This is where the term hosting comes from – because these computers host the website.

These usually are special types of computers in specific configurations to host websites. They may not have the same operating system you’re used to (like Windows, for example), may have different parts, might not even have monitors and keyboards!

They usually are in a data center that has back up power in case the power goes out in that location. They’re also connected to the internet via super-fast internet connections that are always connected and available.

These computers usually have a specific method of connecting to them remotely so that files can be added to be part of your website. This way, it is not necessary for your web firm to be physically in front of the computer they’re working with for you.

What Types of Website Hosting are Available?

Because of the various different configuration options and quality of service, there are many different options when choosing website hosting.

Physically, these computers are usually pretty big and powerful generally. Because of that, they can provide service for more sites than just yours. This is called shared hosting.

For very busy websites or ones with very specific configuration options, dedicated servers are available. This usually is a computer that hosts only your website for a much higher fee. There are generally more opportunities to customize this type of server. For most users, this is overkill.

There are also free web services, but they usually have advertisements, are slow, could be insecure, or are for special interest websites only. Some don’t allow domain names to point to the website and instead require you to use theirs. Unless you’re just testing out an idea yourself, I would suggest against acquiring free hosting.

Along with different types of hosting, there are different services for each type. Some may be suitable for hosting HTML only pages. Some might allow for dynamic programming including PHP or MySQL. (For more help on these acronyms, check out this article here.) Depending on the extra services offered, the fee may be different for each hosting solution.

Why Can’t I Host it Myself? Why do I Need to Buy This?

Technically, depending on your internet service provider, you could host your own website. You could purchase a web server, or even use your home computer. However, there are a bunch of reasons why you should buy service instead of trying to host it yourself.

It may be against your Internet Service Provider’s terms of service to provide a hosting service on your internet connection. They do this for both quality of service and security reasons.

Your connection probably is not fast enough or might not always be on. Your internet connection may seem blazingly fast for you, but imagine 10 or 20 of you using the same connection? This is what would happen if you served your own website. All that traffic could slow down your connection. Web hosts have drastically larger capacities.

Your computer would always have to be on. Do you have a gas generator? Do you have an additional computer that you can just leave on all the time? All of this is handled by the host.

Are you a computer administrator? Do you know about all the various security holes and compromises? In the same way that personal computers have threats from viruses, servers have different threats. Since these computers are always on and usually unmanned, keeping up with all of these changes can easily get out of control – unless you’re a skilled admin.

You do need to have website hosting for your website. Once you know the requirements of your website, your firm should be able to help you acquire hosting. Fees may vary – and it is OK to shop around. However, as always, fees sometimes do correlate to the level of quality (you’d hate to purchase web hosting and then find out that the webhost goes down and offline often!).

If you’re working on a project with 102 Degrees, we can offer hosting for you.

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