Many newcomers ask: what is website hosting?
It would be theoretically possible for you to host your website on your own home computer and connect it to the internet. But this is impractical for most of us for two main reasons:
- You’d have to leave it turned on all the time so people could see your website.
- If you got a rush of traffic one day it could easily crash your computer and disconnect your website from the internet!
This is why nearly every internet marketer uses other website hosting services.
What Website Hosts Do
Website hosts provide an essential part of the fabric of the internet. Their job is to “host” people’s websites so that they are constantly available on the internet. Then millions of surfers worldwide can call up those websites using their internet browsers.
The best website hosting companies have thousands of powerful computer servers arranged in air conditioned factory racks, stuffed full of websites. These are all connected to the Internet.
If you rent space on one of these servers you can “host” your own website, or websites, on that space.
Free Website Hosting Services
If you do not rent space on one of these servers – by having a website hosting account – you can use a free blog service – such as Blogger, WordPress.com, or Squidoo. You can create free blogs on these sites which will have their own servers to host them.
One advantage of a free blog service is that you may have access to a community of fellow bloggers who can be a source of traffic. BUT the main disadvantage is that you never own your content which is a distinct disadvantage long term.
The free-blog-site you love this year may have changed out of all recognition – or even gone out of business – in a few years time.
“Shared Hosting” – The Way to Start
For their starting off point in hosting most people will get “shared hosting”. This means you will share a powerful computer server with several hundred other people.
This is perfectly satisfactory for most people to start, as you are unlikely to have much traffic. However, you do have to be cautious before jumping into a contract with big hosts such as Hostgator, Bluehost or Justhost. (And did you know that, in spite of appearances, these are actually all part of the same massive company?) Why? Because they jam too many users onto the same computer – and can dramatically cut down your bandwidth.
As your site becomes more (hopefully) popular, you will want better website hosting service – more “bandwidth”, or power to serve up your pages faster. You’ll probably want to invest in a better package where you share a server with fewer people.
What is Website Hosting with “Unlimited Data”
Some of the entry-level website hosts promise you “unlimited data”.
This suggests you can send as much traffic as you like to your little bit of shared space on the servers hard drive. This is “sales talk” – exaggeration.
You can be sure that if, for any reason, you use more resources than your fellows on the same server the host will have something to say about it.
The website hosting companies monitor everyone’s usage of resources – especially how much of the computer’s CPU (central processing unit) is being used by each person. If anyone uses more than their fair share the host will take action pretty quickly to stop it. They will either contact you directly, or may just “throttle” your access – slow it down and say nothing.
You can monitor this by regularly checking the speed of your site using a service such as Yslow.
Costs of Website Hosting Services
If you choose paid hosting rather than free, the actual costs can be extremely reasonable. For 4, 5 or 6 dollars a month’s you can easily find a company to host your one website – or even a dozen of them if you have that many.
The best website hosting companies offering this entry level type of hosting include:
This level of hosting will be perfectly adequate for you until one of your site starts getting a lot of traffic. You will then find that your share of the servers hard disk is not enough for you – it’s too slow.
That’s when you need to consider a more powerful package which might cost you more like $20-30 a month. (For example, Stablehost’s “Enterprise” Hosting, for $19.95 a month. In fact, this is much better than the entry level hosting because you get 24/7 phone support. With the entry-level hosting you only get email support – albeit, it’s also 24/7.)
Choosing Hosting Is Tricky
It is hard finding the best website hosting. And it’s complicated by the fact that a huge company called EIG (Endurance International Group) has hoovered up very many of the web hosts around and made a speciality out of:
- Shoehorning as many users as possible onto each server (thus reducing quality), and:
- Paying really high commissions to affiliates to encourage them to sell the low quality service.
This is how Hostgator, Bluehost, and Justhost have become so big – when their quality of service doesn’t deserve it.
So be careful when choosing your web host – and seriously consider the hosts I listed above, who provide a much better service and don’t tempt affiliates with super-high commissions.
So, What is Website Hosting?
You asked “what is website hosting?” And I may have given you a longer answer than you anticipated! It’s because there is a lot to know about hosting and you need to take great care if you want to end up with a quality package. This article should help you to make a more informed choice.