Web hosting or website hosting refers to the way in which you store your website for the rest of the world to access.
Much like any other computer file, such as music or images or word documents or excel spreadsheets a website needs to be stored on a hard drive somewhere, so that people can access it, via the internet. If you think about it a website is always available, 24/7, 365 days a year. This is possible because the server the website is hosted on is functional 24/7, 365 days.
Why use a web hosting server?
Firstly, you could theoretically host your website on your own computer at home or in your business. But this is not ideal for a number of reasons – changing IP addresses, slow transfer speeds, high electricity costs – to name a few. Plus, because website hosting is incredibly cost effective these days it is hard to justify why you would host yourself.
Secondly, depending on your circumstances, you can either share a server with others or you can have an entire server dedicated to your website. For most businesses a shared server is both a cost effective and suitable option. Server resources are attributed to your website as demand or traffic increases and is then reversed as traffic decreases. This is effective for both the customer (you) and the web hosting provider as they can offer the fastest service to all of their customers without having to dedicate resources on a per user basis.
Finally, how much does a server cost. This is entirely dependent on the type of web host you lease from, how much storage your website requires, how much memory your website requires and how many users will be using your site throughout the day. Server costs can start as low as $10 per month, but will generally be more based on usage and demand.
How do domain names and web hosting work?
Basically a domain name is an address that then points to an IP address of the web host server.
So, you find a domain name you like, register it and then ‘point’ it to the webhost’s IP address. Pretty simple stuff. Importantly, you don’t need to host your website with the same provider you registered your domain name with.
Say for example you registered your website with Awesome Domain Names and you have an UnderCtrl web hosting service. You would log in to Awesome Domain Names and then point your domain name to the UnderCtrl web host IP address. This web host would be where your website files are kept, in a secure and backed-up environment, and where people could access your website.
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