As a new blogger or webmaster, you could be curious about, what is web hosting and how does it work to serve the website to local computer? 10 years ago when I had just entered in the web designing field, I had the same question in my mind.
Those days the internet was not a such informative as today. So I place that question to my IT teachers and got some satisfactory answer. But not in detail. So I referenced some IT books and finally got the answer in detail. In this article, you will get each and every little thing about web hosting. But first the definition.
What is Web Hosting
Web hosting is a service in which you are provided with web space on a web server to host your website and make it visible by others on the Internet. These web servers stay online 24/7 so your website never let down and available for users 24 hours. The user only needs a computer or mobile device, an Internet connection, and a web browser to access your website.
There are many types of web hosting services available in the market from free hosting with limited options to paid web hosting services with unlimited options. Depending on your website traffic and other factors you can decide to choose the best web hosting service for you.
You read the definition of web hosting above. But web hosting is a vast thing to squeeze into a definition.
Well, be with me, I will cover all the details related to web hosting including from the basic knowledge to advanced. This article is very helpful for you if you are starting your blogging or online business career. You should know web hosting as without the knowledge of these basic things you won’t succeed in your online business.
Let’s dive into the details.
Core Components of Web Hosting
First of all, we should know about the core components web hosting consists of. If you open the cPanel which is provided by your hosting provider and a gateway to interact with your online property, I bet you will get a feeling of “how and what to do” with that complicated cPanel dashboard.
Thankfully, on Google, there are many tutorials and guides are available about operating the cPanel. You can refer to those guides and tutorials after getting the basic knowledge of web hosting here.
All of you know about the web browser. I have included it here because without a web browser the Internet thing never got that popular. Web browsers are software which acts as a serving platform for websites. You have to install them on your computer, mobiles, tabs etc and type the web address (Domain name) of the website to the address field to get that particular website’s web pages on your device.
Web browsers are designed to read the web-programming languages (HTML, CSS, PHP, SQL, JAVA etc) and decode them to provide the required web page to the user.
There are many web browsers are available including Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, FireFox, Opera etc. different web browsers have different feature but the core function is same which is decoding and serving the web pages to the users.
Web servers are the remote servers (Remote computers) where web hosting providers provide the space to host your website files. Apart from your local computer, these web servers are always online except routine maintenance or power failure. So your website is always available for the users.
You can also convert your local computer to a web server. T do this you have to install some software like XAMPP and follow XAMP instructions to host your website on your local computer. But the disadvantage of this approach is you can’t afford your computer always online. Here the need of a remote web server comes into play.
Hosting your website on a remote server is quite affordable as compared to your own server. You can buy a shared hosting package just within $3 a month. There are many hosting providers provide affordable hosting packages for beginners.
But I always recommend Hostgator $3 monthly unlimited hosting bundle where you get unlimited hosting, domain name, and professional email ID with just 3 bucks in a month. This is a special offer which I get from Hostgator only for my website users. Hostgator is reputed and one of the biggest hosting provider in the world and I have have been with them for the last 4 years without any hassle.
If you want to backup or bulk upload your data then you need FTP server. FTP server is a part of your web server. It is a file transfer protocol platform. With the help of FTP, you can bulk upload and download your website files on your local computer. When you buy a hosting package, you are provided with FTP server address and username and password to sign in to the FTP server.
Apart from the cPanel which can access through web browser, FTP server needs FTP client software to access. You have to download and install FTP client software on your computer, fill up the username and password area of the FTP server and after few moments you can see all your website files in FTP client’s interface.
From the FTP client interface, you can upload and download all or individual files depending upon your needs.
With the online CMS installation and backup management facilities, the need of FTP server is has gone down though.
Every business needs business email addresses. Email address is the main tool to interact with your client. Although there are many free email providers are available including Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail etc they are for personal use. They have their own restrictions and the main thing is that those email addresses are not dedicated to your domain.
See these 2 examples
Which email address looks more professional? Obviously the 2nd one. because it has your domain name which makes it a lot more brandable.
Web hosting providers also provide mail servers to host your desired email address on your domain. You can buy these email servers separately against a nominal monthly fee or can use the cPanel’s email option to create email addresses on your hosting server.
cPanel is the gateway to interact with your web services including website, database, email, domain, subdomain etc. Each and every core changes on your website is done on cPanel. There are several tools provided to you by cPanel to make changes to your website and other web changes.
Although, if your website built with content management system like WordPress then you don’t need to access cPanel frequently as you can apply changes, backup etc straight from your CMS dashboard. Even after that, cPanel is a very important tool for a webmaster.
We will discuss cPanel in detail on upcoming posts. For today just keep in mind that cPanel you can’t manage your website in full throttle.
Domains IP address and Subdomains
Domain and IP addresses are actually your website’s online address. A user has to type your website’s domain name or IP address in the address field of the browser to see your website.
Even buying the domain is the very first process to create your website. See the address field of your browser right now. You can see https://www.mambuzz.com/ which is the domain name of my website. Just like that, every website has a domain name.
You can also access a website by typing the IP address which is something like 192.168.1.15 or 2001:db8:0:1234:0:567:8:1 a combination of numbers and letters to access the website. These numbers are really hard to remember hence we are provided by a handy domain name. domain name masks the IP address and typing the domain name take you to the same website as IP address.
Here you can ask a question that what is a Subdomain?
A subdomain is a domain name under your parent domain. you can create subdomains easily from the cPanel’ Subdomain feature. Subdomains are looked like,
- forum.yourdomain.com etc
Here blog and forum are subdomains under your main domain. You can use them to create an independent website on your web server.
File manager is a cPanel tool and widely used to as an alternative to FTP server. You can use this tool to edit, delete, change permissions, download upload files on your web server.
The only disadvantage of this tool is you can’t bulk upload and download with this. Although, you can use the compress feature to download and upload the files in bulk. You just have to compress the folder, upload and download the folder on desired location and extract. I use this feature to manually backup my website files.
If you have a CMS driven website then probably you know about the database. Generally, when installing a CMS on your web server you are prompted to create a database. A database makes us able to create changes on our website without coding each and every page.
It is also helpful if your website updates through user side data. Facebook is a good example of that kind of website.
Well, Database makes it very easy to create changes to our website without beating our head onto the coding like old days. These important factors make Database an important part of data-driven dynamic websites.
Website editor/ Web design software
Some web hosting services provide drag and drop website creation tools. These tools help clients to create a website without prior knowledge of coding.
You can access these tools under your cPanel account. Some web hosting providers like Wix, Squarespace are specially built for drag and drop website building. But once you created your website with them, you have to be stick with them. This is a kind of disadvantage as you are not free to migrate to another web hosting service.
Alternatively, you can use WordPress CMS which is an award-winning CMS platform and 30% of websites on the internet runs on this CMS. The best thing is that you can migrate your website with some basic knowledge of migrating WordPress. You can also use a paid migration plugin to migrate your website from one server to another.
You can use SSL certificates on your web server to secure your website for online transactions. Professional SSL certificates are available with some extra bucks yearly on many web hosting services. You can buy them separately or directly from your web hosting account.
In your cPanel dashboard, you can see a separate SSL section where you can install SSL certificate on your website. When you install SSL certificate on your website your URL changes to HTTP to HTTPS which propagates end to end protection within you and your user.
Many web hosting providers are now providing free Let’s encrypt SSL certificates. These certificates are valid for 3
Keep a backup of your site is a very very important task. If you don’t do that there are several problems that you could face in future including the site hacking.
Web hosting service providers provide a facility to back up your site daily, weekly or custom time basis so that you can restore your site anytime.
Software installer – Softaculous etc.
Softaculous is a very cool feature of web hosting cPanel. You can install more than 400 CMS and software on your web server to power your website.
I always use Softaculous for a fresh installation of WordPress on my web server. It has one-click install for all CMS and software which is very easy for a newbie. If you are not developing your website on your local computer then I suggest you use Softaculous for your favorite CMS and software installation.
How Web Hosting Works
In the above section, we discussed the core components of web hosting. Now, its time to know how web hosting works?
There are some sub-questions under that question “how web hosting works?”
- How does a web server work?
- What is the need of Domain Name?
- How does domain name work?
In this section, I will answer all your all these questions one by one. Just be with me.
Okay, let’s come to the 1st question.
How does a web server work?
Web servers are always online computers, powered with web server applications and programs like cPanel, Apache, PHP, SQL server, PHP My admin etc to host and serve your websites successfully to the users connected to the internet. Every web server has a unique IP address which makes it possible to find out the content of the server on the internet.
When a user types the IP address of the web server on the address bar of the web browser, it searches for the related web server and if the web server is connected to the internet, the web browser displays the data saved on the web server. Here I would like to clear 1 thing that there are two types of data you can store on the web server. Public data and private or encrypted data.
Public data is accessible by every user but private data is accessible by only those who know the access details.
Why you need a Domain name?
There are 2 reasons behind the need for a domain name. Unique Identity & Branding.
Suppose you have a web server where you host your website with other websites. As the web server has only one IP address, if somebody types the IP address on his web browser, he would get all the public data stored on the server including your website and others too.
So, to give your website a unique identity on the server, a domain name is used. The server is programmed in such a way that when a user types your domain name on the web browser, and the browser finds the server, the server identifies the domain name and give the access to the data stored on it related to the domain name.
In earlier days, every website hosted on a different server. That process costs a lot of money. Then the concept of shared hosting came in where we can host many websites on one server and every website has its unique identity by the domain name which connects with the hosting. The idea is same like many flats in an apartment with unique flat numbers.
The second reason for owning a domain name for a website is branding. Apart from the un-handy IP addresses which we can’t remember, domain names are easy to remember and can be used as a brand name for your business.
How does domain name work?
We have to purchase our domain name from domain name provider like Namecheap, Bigrock etc. We can also purchase a domain name and hosting combo which is far better than purchasing them separately as it will save the domain and web hosting setup time.
After purchasing the domain names we have to connect that to our web hosting server. To do this we have to add the Name Servers in the domain name setting option under domain name management dashboard. The nameservers are unique identity of the server and provided by the hosting provider at the time of registration.
After adding the nameservers on the domain name dashboard, wait for 5 min to 24 hours and it will set up. After setting up nameservers anyone can access your website by just typing in your domain name in the browser.
Types of Web Hosting
There are man types of web hosting services available out there. Let’s have a look at some most used services.
Shared Web Hosting
Shared web hosting service is the most used and affordable hosting service. As I told above, providing a dedicated server for each website is much more costly, So the webmasters got the concept of shared hosting where a single web server can serve many websites. The server cost divided all the websites and hence significantly low as compared to the dedicated server.
But shared hosting is not for big websites as it can’t handle huge traffic. So, when your traffic grows, migrate to the dedicated or VPS server.
VPS hosting is same as shared hosting but it has a unique IP address. The full name of VPS hosting is Virtual Private Server. When you sign up for a VPS hosting, you are provided with a virtual unique IP address and bigger space, RAM, bandwidth etc. These facilities make your website more powerful to handle huge traffic.
Obviously, VPS hosting is more costly than shared hosting.
Dedicated hosting is an older approach where you are provided with a separate server with unique ID and hardware. This is the most powerful form of web hosting and can handle huge traffic. As well as you will get physical RAM and Harddisc power which makes your website lightning fast.
Dedicated hosting costs much more than other types of hosting as you have to pay for one physical server which you rent from the providers.
Cloud hosting is a new form of hosting where many separate servers from all over the world used to create a giant server. It has a special program which collects the resources of all the servers connected to the system.
This is a very powerful form of web hosting. The main advantage of this type of hosting is, you never experience a downtime as the servers are powered by different power sources in different locations.
It is also a costly web hosting service but very reliable.
As WordPress is now the backbone of the internet. more than 30% of websites are running on the CMS WordPress, web hosting providers took that as an opportunity and formed a new type of hosting called WordPress hosting.
The main advantage of this hosting is you get one-click WordPress install, perfect for newbies they don’t have ay technical knowledge of cPanel etc.
At the end
Well, here you read, what is web hosting and how does it work? I think this information would be helpful for you on the way to creating your websites and blogs.
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