Over the years, we have been asked the same question over and over again – What is a web host? This is usually followed by – Do I need one? In almost every case, the answer is: Yes, you do need one. In fact, anybody that wants or has a website has some form of web host because without a web host your website couldn’t exist on the Internet.
A web host basically provides server space for people’s websites to reside on, it gives a website an IP address so that people can visit that website (find a definition of IP and other Internet terms here). It really is similar to a housing landlord, as you are paying ‘rent’ for their property.
Okay, so that’s the first bit of the puzzle. What we haven’t mentioned yet is that there are a number of different types of web hosts, as well as many, many different web host providers. Sound complicated? That’s probably because it is pretty hard to get your head around it!
However, we can give you a quick summary of the types of web hosts that are offered in the market and describe the differences because we’re helpful like that.
This is the most popular type of paid hosting as costs are kept low, due to the fact that you are sharing server space with lots of other website owners like yourself. The downside of this is that your website may perform slower, due to all of the traffic that the server is carrying. Due to the fact that it sits on a shared server, there is also less security compared to some of the other types of hosting. Shared hosting is generally selected by smaller businesses who don’t have huge amounts of visitors and don’t need to have a high level of security.
If performance of the website is important to you, Dedicated hosting will provide faster page loading as you will have your very own server. Another key benefit is that it is a more secure option, so if you don’t want to take the increased risk of viruses and cyber fraudsters, then this is probably the option that you need. It is not just the big companies that fall foul to these problems and the Government are urging people to invest more in cyber security due to the high levels of risk. The only real catch with Dedicated hosting is that the cost is much higher, so you have to weigh up what is most important for your business.
On the other end of the cost spectrum, is Free hosting. Whilst this at first sounds like a great option if you are trying to keep expenditure to a minimum, it does of course have a number of drawbacks. Firstly, if you want to use your own domain, you will generally have to pay for the pleasure. There is usually also a limited amount of storage space, so if you expand in the future you may well struggle to and need to move onto a different type of host. You also have pretty much no control over how they use your website so you might see unwanted ads spring up all over your website.
If you are new to owning a website and don’t want the responsibility for hardware, operating system, security etc. then this can all be taken care of if you select the more costly Managed hosting.