Web hosting is an essential part of the structure of the internet. Every website has to be hosted by a physical server somewhere which is connected to an internet service provider who connects them to the rest of the internet. The amount of data available to a website and the speed it loads at are determined by the physical hardware which stores the data and the network infrastructure between the host and the website visitors.
What types of web hosting are available?
There are 4 main types of web hosting which differ in how they function and how users engage with them. Businesses determine which type of service they require based on their budget and their needs. The types available are:
Free web hosting is generally not used by serious businesses. These services are typically paid for by advertising which is served through the end website and as businesses do not have control over what is advertised, they typically do not engage these services. Individuals who are creating a hobby website or something personal may find that these services are appropriate for them to avoid paying for a website which does not generate income.
Shared servers are utilised by multiple website owners who both use the same physical server and software platform. The price of these services are lower, as the operating costs are shared across multiple website operators. The trade-off is that these services offer less bandwidth, because multiple websites are sharing the physical hardware. This can result in a slower service.
Dedicated hosting is the most common business web hosting service. With this option, businesses have an entire web server dedicated to their website. The result of this is that the website has more bandwidth and usually more space, resulting in a faster website with greater capabilities. The downside is that the business is solely responsible for the cost of operation and therefore these services are more expensive than shared options.
In a dedicated hosting environment, you have the entire web server to yourself. This allows for faster performance, as you have all the server’s resources entirely, without sharing with other website owners. However, this also means that you will be responsible for the cost of server operation entirely. This is a good choice for websites that requires a lot of system resources, or need a higher level of security.
Collocated hosting is useful for websites who need complete control over their servers to install new or custom software and scripts. With this solution, businesses purchase their server outright and house it in a web host’s facilities. The greater control gives huge flexibility to businesses who have complicated website needs.
How is the host accessed?
Each computer on the Internet is assigned an IP address, which is a unique numerical identifier. These addresses allow other users and websites to access a specific server, but they are difficult to remember for website users. For this reason, Domain Name Servers (DNS) assign websites URL’s such as ‘www.example.com.au’, which link to an IP address. This makes websites easier to find and access.