Reading over our collection of Knowledgebase articles we were struck by a thought. It's all well and good to introduce and explain the more advanced aspects of web hosting and websites, but what if you, the reader, were completely new to this world? You may have never considered owning and running your own website....and a domain! What on earth is a domain in the first place?!
This article sets out to give a brief introduction to the uninitiated amongst our readers. We'll do our best to include some of the key topics we feel would be useful to a beginner/novice and include some distinctions between different areas of web hosting. By the end of the article, we hope that we have been of some help and that some of the aspects you were unsure of have become a little clearer. Without further ado......
So....what is web hosting?
Imagine that a website was a shop within a large retail centre, within this retail centre are many other shops. Each shop pays rent to the owner of the retail centre for the pleasure of being there and are generally being looked after by the owner. Within this analogy the 'owner' of the retail centre is actually the web host and the 'retail centre' is actually the server! A web host provides a client with server space in which to keep their website (or to be more exact - the files of their website).The example given just now roughly equates to what we would call 'Shared' hosting. I'll go on to explain a little more about other types of web hosting below, however, shared hosting is when multiple website files (websites) are stored on a single server. This this method of hosting is very common and is one of the cheaper hosting options available. As well as being reasonably cheap, they generally perform particularly well for businesses, and the setup is suited to newcomers to web hosting.
As we mentioned above shared hosting is one of the more commonly available hosting packages. This option offers a high performance product in the lower price range in terms of hosting fees. As well as being cheap, it is also easy to use and is perfectly suited to those just starting out in the world of hosting. As with all things, there are some negatives thrown into the mix along with the positives! As shared hosting relies on everyone using the same server, security can be more easily compromised with this type of hosting. Going back to the 'shopping centre' analogy above - shared hosting can be thought of as renting a single unit within the shopping centre.
'Reseller' hosting, is an alternative arrangement, whereby a host (reseller), buys up a part of a server then rents smaller pieces to clients. Going back to the shopping centre analogy, this can be thought of as a host renting one large area of the centre. The owner of the shopping centre would still own this rented area (and be responsible for the security!) but any store owners within this area would pay 'rent' to the reseller rather than the owner.The reseller would be responsible for any clients who rent from him (in terms of assistance and technical support) and would be in charge of the size of the 'unit' that is rented by the client.The size of a unit (package) rented out to a client, is totally at the discretion of the reseller. The only limitation being the amount of server space that has been purchased by the reseller.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
VPS hosting essentially 'splits up' a physical server into several virtual servers. Each of these virtual servers are then assigned to a client. In essence, this means that a client has their own server, but at the same time they are actually sharing a physical server with other clients. This type of hosting can be thought of as being somewhere between shared hosting and dedicated hosting (which we will come to soon). In general, there is more security offered by this type of hosting, although a website can still be affected by issues that would be encountered at a shared host level (traffic spikes, slow speed due to influxes of users etc).
Dedicated Server Hosting
In a nutshell, dedicated server hosting can be described at the 'Rolls Royce' of the hosting world. As it 'says on the tin', each website within DS hosting has its own server. Using the shopping centre analogy, this would be equal to one shop having its own personal shopping centre. As you can guess, the performance aspect of DS hosting is second to none, but comes at a price. This area of hosting tends to be on the expensive side when compared to the other methods mentioned earlier.
Cloud hosting involves the use of multiple servers (a cloud), teaming together to host a group of websites. In terms of performance, cloud hosting is one of the best hosting methods available. This is mainly due to the availability of the cloud of servers. This eliminates the effect of traffic spikes and rapid traffic influxes. It does this by diverting the traffic through a network of servers, rather than only having one server to work with. In terms of price, this method of hosting is slightly more expensive than shared hosting, but is a lot cheaper than dedicated server hosting.
The explanations of each hosting type are very brief, there's much more to each as you can imagine! The type of hosting that you choose to use is entirely based on how much you are looking to spend. Important factors when choosing a type of hosting are, 'what the purpose of your website is' (business? pleasure?), and 'how experienced you are within the world of hosting/websites'. In the next part of this series of articles, we will go on to explain a little more about domains and some other aspects around web hosting.
Please feel free to get in touch should you wish to provide a back link to this article.....(or if you just fancy a chat), you can contact us by launching a support ticket (open a ticket) with our hosting department - we will try to get back to you as soon as we can!