What is Web Hosting? Beginner’s Guide For 2022

Updated Oct 14, 2022.

Before picking the right web hosting company for your needs, you need to know the basics. Here are the five best web hosting providers:

Bluehost icon

Bluehost

A top and easy-to-use web hosting provider for starting a blog or personal site using WordPress with pricing starting at $2.95/month
Hostinger icon

Hostinger

An affordable “almost free” web hosting platform suitable for individuals and small businesses with pricing starting at $2.99/month
SiteGround icon

SiteGround

A reliable web hosting provider ideal for blogs and personal websites that offers free migration with pricing starting at $2.99/month
A2 Hosting Icon

A2 Hosting

A developer-friendly web hosting platform for small business websites experiencing high traffic with pricing starting at $2.99/month
DreamHost icon

DreamHost

A cheap web host that provides web development services for developers and agencies with super low pricing starting at $2.95/month

Our work is supported by affiliate commissions.

Despite the widespread use of the internet globally, many do not know the web mechanism that keeps websites and web pages running. 

Thanks to website builders and web hosting services, online business owners can create and host their websites on the internet without understanding its behind-the-scenes workings.

Whether you want to run a blog, online store, personal or business website, or another website type, you need to sign up for a hosting account with your preferred web host to make it available online.

This article teaches the basics of web hosting, the types of web hosting, and the best web hosting services for your website. 

What is Web Hosting?

Getting the right web hosting definition is essential. Web hosting provides storage space to website owners or any application that requires a virtual dedicated server on the internet.

Using a website builder to create a website is not enough to establish your online presence. You need open an active hosting account with a web hosting service provider to make your website accessible online.

By allocating storage space on its server for a website to store its web files, hosting providers host a website. The space given to a website depends mainly on which types of web hosting are to be used.

Web hosting functions by making all website files, code, and images available to be accessed online. All websites require a server to host them.

A majority of web hosting companies require website owners to own their domain for them to be able to enjoy hosting services with them.

What are Web Hosting Services?

Web hosting services are simply the services that hosting providers afford an individual or organization to host a website on the internet. Apart from the digital aspect of websites, websites require dedicated resources in the form of web servers to perform optimally.

A web server holds all website files that make up your website while serving as the physical space where your website is hosted. It is this web server that your website visitors are connected to when they have direct access to your website.

A good web hosting service provider aims to keep your website running optimally and prevent its crash by ensuring the time your server is online or the uptime is kept close to the 100% mark.

Security is another reason to buy into using a hosting web service, as they offer multiple layers of security to shore up the security of your website, both internal and external.

Market Share of Hosting Providers by Country
Source: 99Firms

How Does Web Hosting Work

Hosting a website is possible through web hosts, simply hosting companies that offer their services and technologies to help individuals and organizations get their sites hosted on the internet. 

Web hosting begins when the files that comprise a website are uploaded to a dedicated server. All the server's resources in Ram, disk space, and bandwidth are then allocated to the website for use. 

The server resources division largely depends on the different hosting packages the web hosting provider has available for you. 

Once your website has been successfully hosted, you can access it by simply inputting your website address or domain name in your browser's address bar

Their internet-connected device then connects them to the server which hosts your website, which provides access to the files stored for display.

Types of Web Hosting

Although all categories of web hosting services provide storage space for your website, they all vary in their features, such as the amount of storage capacity, technical knowledge requirement, server speed, and a load of other qualities. 

Here are the types of web hosting you are like to come across in your search for a web host.

1. Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is perfect for new entry-level users. It allows for a single server to be shared among multiple users. This web hosting type is the cheapest option for businesses with a small, simple site with traffic.

With a shared hosting plan, all domains that use shared hosting share the same server resources in RAM and CPU. 

Newbies into the website world would find shared hosting as the simplest of all the other types of web hosting in making their website available and accessible on the web. 

This web hosting type comes with unique tools such as website builders and WordPress hosting for beginners to ease their way to a successful website. You can email prospective clients with a shared hosting plan.

Shared hosting plans work best for website owners that do not have a large amount of web traffic. Sharing a server with multiple websites causes a surge in usage that can affect your site's user experience.

The Pros and Cons of Shared Hosting
Source: WPMU DEV

The best-shared web hosting services include Bluehost, Hostinger, DreamHost, A2 Hosting, and InMotion.

2. Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

In the case of VPS hosting, a single physical server is broken down into multiple virtual private servers, which are then used for hosting individual websites. 

Businesses with large and high-traffic websites with no budgetary cap for additional resources are best suited for VPS hosting. 

This web hosting type borders between a shared server hosting and a dedicated server hosting because it is great for website owners needing more control but not necessarily a dedicated server. 

VPS hosting is unique because it offers storage space within its own to host each website while a physical server is shared with other users. 

While you get more customization and storage space, VPS hosting does not significantly deal with high traffic and spike in usage, which means your site's performance can be substantially affected by other sites on the same server.

3. Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting gives website owners absolute control over the server their site is stored on as a server is rented to a single customer. 

You get entire root and admin access over the server on which your site runs to control the security and operating system infrastructure. 

Dedicated hosting is great for businesses with large and high-traffic websites that use many resources and can pay a high fee. With a dedicated hosting plan, you do not share the server with others but get your own server. 

However, all these numerous benefits come with a cost. Dedicated server costs are among the most expensive web hosting options available. 

This web hosting type requires a high level of technical expertise for its installation and continuous management of the server. 

The best-dedicated web hosting services include Bluehost, Liquid Web, InMotion Hosting, HostGator, and DreamHost. 

4. Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting consists of several computers interconnected to run applications using a pool of combined computing resources. It is an example of a virtual server that runs in a cloud-based computing environment, storing data across a vast network of servers. 

This web hosting service is for you if you run a small or medium-sized website that needs more server resources than shared hosting can afford. 

Cloud hosting works through a network of virtual servers, enabling companies to use computing resources like it was an essential utility. Users get access to many resources without the need to build and maintain their computing infrastructure. 

This web hosting type is very scalable and allows your website to use as many resources as it grows over time. The best part is you only have to pay for what you need. 

Liquid Web - Shared, VPS, Dedicated, Cloud
Source: LiquidWeb

The best cloud web hosting services include SiteGround, A2 Hosting, Cloudways, Kamatera, and Hostwinds.

5. Managed Hosting

Many web hosting packages on display online fall under the managed hosting category of hosting types. 

Managed hosting is the comprehensive day-to-day management of hardware and operating systems and all other standardized processes comprising technical services, support, updates, and monitoring of your website.

In managed hosting, a service provider offers dedicated servers and hardware associated with it to a single customer who manages those systems on behalf of the customer.

Unmanaged Hosting vs Managed Hosting
Source: WebScout

6. Reseller Hosting

Reseller hosting allows you to purchase server space and break the purchased area into smaller units to resell to other customers. 

Most reseller hosting users already have the technical knowledge of this hosting type and use it extensively to earn money from reselling server space to other customers. 

Essential Web Hosting Features

Web hosting is only complete and helpful to you if it consists of specific features that are tailored to give your website the most effective look. Combining these essential features boost your website’s performance.

Here are some essential web hosting features to be on the lookout for.

1. Domain Name Registration

Every website is distinct by the uniqueness of its domain name. Although you can register for your domain name separately with a domain hosting provider, many website and domain hosting service providers offer domain name registration with your hosting plan. 

You get to save money and additional fees associated with registering your domain name by choosing a hosting service provider that helps you register your domain name. 

Domain registrars like Bluehost, Domain.com, and NameCheap can help you get a free domain name.

2. Speed

Speed is a vital feature of web hosting. How fast your website loads is a direct determinant of the success of your site. 

Your customer's overall experience is closely linked to your site's speed and response and directly affects the site's performance.

If you're going big on speed for your site, consider choosing a hosting service company that uses Solid-State Drivers (SSD) and a Content Delivery Network (CDN) with multiple servers in distinct locations as they directly impact speed.

3. Storage

There is a limit to the capacity servers can offer for storing files. With this in mind, you want to choose a type of web hosting that can cater to your storage needs and have the capabilities to accommodate your site's size. 

Consider opting for shared hosting if your site is likely to use rich text. A virtual private or dedicated server may be perfect for your required storage if you operate a more significant site with high-resolution images and streaming media.

4. Bandwidth

Like storage, bandwidth varies with the type of site and requirements. Websites with a high daily troop of visitors would require more bandwidth than websites with fewer visitors.

Most web hosting service providers usually pitch unlimited bandwidth to their customers with the knowledge that websites do not come close to hitting their bandwidth limits, especially in their early stages.

Some web hosts penalize customers that use more than the agreed and allocated bandwidth, so you must play it safe.

5. Scalability

The best way to head-on issues of storage and bandwidth limitations is scalability. Cloud and other hosting types allow scalability as you can increase resources as needed.

Hosting service providers allow you to choose from several types of hosting, enabling you to connect from your shared hosting to a dedicated or VPS hosting when your storage limit has been met or there are limitations on your capacity.

6. Uptime

The uptime of a website refers to how fast and efficient your website is running. A good web host ensures that a website is running optimally.

Your website’s uptime is usually expressed as a percentage. The closer a site's uptime is to the 100 percent mark, the more optimally and efficiently the site is running.

If you have doubts about a web hosting company's claim about their uptime, you can verify independently through a third-party site.

7. Email Accounts

Allocate dedicated email accounts to your domain name to give your business a more professional and authoritative feel. 

Several hosting packages come with several email accounts per website for you to choose from. Determine your business needs and what you feel they should be, and select a hosting plan that is designed and structured to meet all of your unique needs. 

8. Support

Technical support that is reliable and readily accessible from your web hosting provider goes a long way in ensuring your website's smooth and effective running. 

Suppose trouble is experienced by you or potential customers on your site. In that case, you must resolve those issues as quickly as possible to reduce the likelihood of losing potential customers due to a non-responsive website. 

You should tailor your search for a web hosting service company around one that offers 24/7 technical support. 

Web Hosting Terms

Like every industry or area of specialization, there are specific unique terms that characterize web hosting. 

Some of the most widely used terms associated with web hosting include: 

1. Hosting Service Provider

A hosting service provider consists of web hosting companies that provide web hosting services. Hosting service providers are the owners and sole operators of servers you need to host your website by renting out spaces to its clients. 

2. Server

A server is a computer that provides data to other related computers depending on the server type and specific software they run on. There are different types of servers: cloud servers and physical servers. 

3. Internet Protocol (IP) Address

An IP address is a unique numerical address that distinguishes your website and provides the platform for visitors to access your website files.

4. Domain Name

The domain name of a website is the unique name entered into the browser's address bar that grants users access to your website. Your website must go through domain registration services to prevent multiple websites from having the same domain name. 

Although most web hosting service providers include domain registration as a critical part of their web hosting services, domain names can be registered independently. 

5. Uptime

A website's uptime is the average time a server is up and running. Uptime is expressed as a percentage, and the closer your site's uptime is to the 100% mark, the more optimal your site is running.

6. Bandwidth

The bandwidth measures the rate data flows through a connection. Bandwidth is essential as it can negatively affect the speed and accessibility of your website. 

7. Control Panel

The Control panel used in websites uses a Linux-based graphical interface to publish and organize your site. 

8. WordPress

WordPress is the most widely-used website platform in the world. This content management system (CMS) lets users create websites that several hosting service providers use for hosting WordPress-specific sites. 

Compare Web Hosting Plans 

Having reliable web hosting comes in handy if you want to create a solid and formidable online presence for your website. Many web hosts provide various web hosting services distinct by their web hosting plans.

Web hosting cost varies. You have a wide range of options, from free web hosting services with limited options to the more expensive web hosting services tailored for your online business and personal websites. 

Your choice of web hosting plans would be determined by the intended use of your website, as the features you seek would drive the project you go for and the budget for hosting options. 

Choosing the right hosting plan provides you access to dedicated resources to improve the performance of your website and keep it loading optimally for your intended visitors. 

Determine your hosting plan by the estimated number of visitors to your site, especially when you run a business that carries out most of its operations online. 

A problem on your site or a slow responsive site makes your business lose potential customers. Going for the best affordable web hosting plan that offers you the best features is your best bet. 

Best Overall

Bluehost

A top and easy-to-use web hosting provider for starting a blog or personal site using WordPress with pricing starting at $2.95/month
Best Budget Hosting

Hostinger

An affordable “almost free” web hosting platform suitable for individuals and small businesses with pricing starting at $2.99/month
Best Customer Support

SiteGround

A reliable web hosting provider ideal for blogs and personal websites that offers free migration with pricing starting at $2.99/month
Best Hosting for Speed

A2 Hosting

A developer-friendly web hosting platform for small business websites experiencing high traffic with pricing starting at $2.99/month
Best Shared Hosting

DreamHost

A cheap web host that provides web development services for developers and agencies with pricing starting at $2.95/month

If you are still undecided on which web hosting provider to choose, here are some resources to help.

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Martin Luenendonk

Editor at FounderJar

Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.