What is web hosting?

Web hosting is a service that stores your website or web application and makes it easily accessible across different devices such as desktop, mobile, and tablets. Any web application or website is typically made of many files, such as images, videos, text, and code, that you need to store on special computers called servers. The web hosting service provider maintains, configures, and runs physical servers that you can rent for your files. Web site and web application hosting services also provide additional support, such as security, website backup, and website performance, which free up your time so that you can focus on the core functions of your website.

Why is web hosting important?

Hosting your business website on an internal server can be n an internal server can be time-consuming and expensive. Web hosting providers offer the following benefits.

Performance

A web hosting company that manages hardware resources for multiple websites has greater purchasing power. It invests in cutting-edge technology so that you get high-performing web servers with processing power, internal memory, and other computing resources. This improves website performance, and your visitors can load pages quickly.

Reliability

Web hosting service providers take away the stress of ongoing server maintenance. They perform regular system upgrades to maintain high security standards. By doing so, they free up your IT resources so that you can focus on application delivery instead of server management.

Technical support

Most web hosting services offer comprehensive support for troubleshooting performance issues. They also streamline website monitoring and analytics, data backup and recovery, and other similar features that make your website run more smoothly.

Security and compliance

Web hosting services use an end-to-end approach to secure infrastructure, including physical, operational, and software measures that meet all compliance requirements.

What are the features of web hosting?

Most web hosting companies provide different hosting packages and plans. Your monthly web hosting cost can range from free to paid, depending on factors such as the following:

  • Size of your website.
  • Number of daily website visitors.
  • Peak time website or webpage traffic.
  • Web hosting features that you require.

Before selecting a web hosting service, explore the different features that various services provide. The following are the main features generally provided.

Disk space

Your website will require storage space for emails, web files, images, and databases. While you are estimating your storage requirements, also consider future website growth and website traffic. Low disk space impacts user experience, so it is an important factor in the selection of a web hosting service.

Bandwidth and data transfer

In the web hosting industry, the terms bandwidth and data transfer are often used interchangeably. However, they are two different things. Bandwidth is the amount of data that your website can transfer to visitors at one time. Data transfer is the actual amount of data that it transfers.

You can think of bandwidth as a pipe. The bigger the pipe, the more the water can pass through it. However, for various reasons, you might not use the total capacity of the pipe. Data transfer is like the actual amount of water that goes through the pipe in a given time period.

Email accounts

Many web hosting plans include an email account. You can link your email address to your website name. For example, if your website name is example.com, your email address will be yourname@example.com. The following are the main types of email accounts.

POP3

POP3 accounts give you server space to store your emails, which you can access directly or by using your email client program.

Forwarding mail

Forwarding mail accounts redirect emails to another email address. This account could be a personal email account with an email service provider or a third-party account that manages your website emails for you.

Aliases

Some web hosts have emails plans that you can use to create several aliases or email account names without creating a full POP3 account. For example, you might want to display sales@, support@, and orders@ addresses on different pages of you website. Instead of having multiple POP3 accounts that need to be checked and administered, you could redirect everything to a single inbox.

FTP access

FTP refers to website file transfer and sharing. Many websites have documents, such as PDF files or image files, that they want internet users to download. The web hosting company uses FTP access to provide this service.

What is the difference between web hosting and a domain name?

Web hosting gives your website or web application a server or a machine on the internet. But a domain name gives your applications an address so that your users can find you.

Domain name

On the internet, every machine has a unique number, called an IP address. Users use this IP address to find the machine and the website or resources on that machine. IP addresses can be hard to remember. That is why domain name registries use a Domain Name System (DNS) to map IP addresses to easy-to-remember website names. These registries map the website names, which are called domain names, to the web hosting servers’ IP addresses.

To visit any website, you enter its domain name into the browser. For example, the domain name for the AWS website is aws.amazon.com.

Domain name registration

To make your site accessible on the World Wide Web, you require both a web hosting service account and a registered domain name. You can choose the name, but you need to pay a small fee to register it with the domain name registry. You can then link your web hosting account to your registered domain name as your official website address.

How does web hosting work?

When you create an account with your web hosting provider, your provider allocates some space for your website or web application on its server. You can access and manage this space from your hosting account dashboard. You will also get access to other resources, such as random access memory (RAM), central processing unit (CPU), and bandwidth. The percentage of server resources you receive depends on the type of web hosting service you select.

Choosing a web hosting plan is similar to renting an office space. The least expensive option is to lease a coworking space. As your company grows, you can expand to leasing an entire office or even an entire building. Similarly, you can start with free web hosting on a server that you share with several other websites or web applications. Eventually, you might want to upgrade to more exclusive web server access or even rent the entire server!

What are the types of web hosting services?

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Shared hosting

Shared hosting service providers give you shared access to their web server. You get access to your directory or folder for website files, but you share server resources, including disk space, CPU power, and RAM. Shared hosting providers can have hundreds of websites or web applications using the same server. However, other websites will not see your internal data because no user gets access to the main or root directory.

Shared hosting is suitable for these kinds of cases: 

  • New businesses or small businesses
  • Personal websites and blogs
  • Sole traders and owner-operator webpages

Benefits of shared hosting

A shared hosting plan provides several web hosting benefits:

  • Low monthly fees.
  • Built-in features such as site builder and database software.
  • Ease of setup and start.
  • Ability to host multiple websites on a single account.

Limitations of shared hosting

The following are some of the limitations of shared web hosting services:

  • If another website on your server experiences a traffic spike, it will affect your website’s performance.
  • You have less control of the server configuration, which limits your website features as well. For example, you cannot install third-party software, such as an accounts system, to integrate with your website.
  • Costs may increase substantially as users and traffic growth increases.

VPS hosting

Virtual private server (VPS) hosting providers use a virtual private server to give you more exclusive access to server resources. VPS hosting technology partitions the physical server to create small virtual servers that you can lease. With virtual private servers, you have exclusive access to both space and computing resources, such as memory and processing power, on the physical server. You can install an operating system on your virtual server and have greater control of your server environment.

VPS hosting is suitable for these cases:

  • Medium-sized businesses with increasing traffic.
  • Complex websites that require installation of other business software on the server.

Benefits of VPS hosting

VPS hosting provides several benefits:

  • Complete control over your virtual server configuration.
  • Ease of scaling and customization.
  • Greater control of website performance.

Limitations of VPS hosting

VPS hosting typically requires you to have some in-house technical expertise and server configuration knowledge. You can choose a managed hosting service that takes care of ongoing server maintenance to overcome this limitation.

Dedicated hosting

Dedicated hosting providers give you access to the complete physical server. You have exclusive access to a dedicated server for only your website. You can optimize and control the environment as it suits your requirements. You can partition this server yourself to host multiple domains on the same physical server.

A dedicated hosting plan is suitable for these cases:

  • Large enterprises and businesses.
  • Business owners with multiple domains.
  • Complex web applications that require large amounts of processing power.

Benefits of dedicated hosting

Dedicated servers for web hosting provide several benefits:

  • Greater reliability and security
  • Greater server optimization capabilities
  • Full customization of server configuration

Limitations of dedicated hosting

A dedicated server is expensive to lease and maintain. You must also have in-house technical capabilities. Therefore, organizations that have scaled up sufficiently usually find that dedicated hosting is a better fit.

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Java plugin establishes a connection between popular browsers and the Java platform so that you can run your website applets within a desktop browser.

Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting providers use resource sharing and scale to drive down web hosting costs and improve website performance. You get shared access to a cluster of servers, and the cloud hosting provider automatically replicates your website files across several servers. If one of the cloud servers is busy, the hosting provider automatically routes your traffic to another server. This greatly improves website performance without adding to your ongoing costs. 

You can choose from shared hosting, VPS hosting, or dedicated cloud hosting plans. What differentiates them is the underlying physical server management. 

Because you have several options in cloud hosting, it is suitable for all types of businesses, including the following:

  • Small and medium businesses.
  • Ecommerce and complex web applications.
  • Government and nongovernmental organizations.
  • Large enterprises with several domains.

Benefits of cloud hosting

Cloud hosting provides several benefits as a web hosting option:

  • Greater availability and reliability for your website users.
  • Automatically scales up or down as your requirements change.
  • Increased security that meets the highest compliance standards.
  • Automatic data backup and redundancy.
  • High flexibility—you pay for only what you use.

What are the requirements of modern web hosting?

Today's web and mobile apps are expected to be available from anywhere in the world. Customers are looking to modernize their web applications to do the following:

  • Create feature-rich applications that deliver compelling user experiences for all types of use cases, such as static web or server-side-rendered applications, a mobile app landing page, or a progressive application.
  • Deliver the lowest possible latency to end users globally.
  • Scale to meet peak workloads and spikes in traffic.
  • Deliver applications that work on hundreds of different desktop browsers and mobile devices.
  • Continually monitor applications to identify problems before they impact customer experience.
  • Increase agility, innovate faster, and get to market faster.
  • Avoid managing physical servers.
  • Lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
  • Build secure applications.

Which web hosting services does AWS provide?

AWS offers cloud hosting solutions for start-ups, small and midsize businesses (SMBs), enterprises, nonprofits, and government organizations to deliver their websites and web applications in low-cost ways. AWS provides a wide range of modern web hosting options for marketing, blogs, landing pages, rich media, websites, ecommerce, and all types of web applications.

  • Amazon Lightsail is a streamlined way to launch and manage a web server using AWS. Lightsail includes everything you need to start your website at a low, predictable price.
  • AWS Amplify Hosting is a scalable, fully managed CI/CD and hosting service for static websites and server-side-rendered web applications. 
  • Amazon S3 provides storage options that you can use to upload files for web hosting.
  • Amazon EC2 provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. You can use it to host enterprise and other application-heavy websites.

Get started with web hosting on AWS by creating an account today.

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