Web hosting is a service that allows anyone to essentially rent space on the internet, and websites must have web hosting to be accessible online. Some content management systems (CMS), such as Squarespace and Wix, include web hosting as part of their monthly fee, whereas if you’re building a site on WordPress, you’ll need to purchase web hosting from a web hosting provider, such as MochaHost or IONOS. Discover here more about what web hosting is.
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How does web hosting work?
Think of web hosting as the process of finding your website a home. The contents of your website – the domain name, HTML code, images, text and so on – all need a place to live. Web hosting provides a place for this content to live on a server.
In short, a server is a computer that connects users to your website. In other words, the server is like a large condo building or office building and web hosting is the process of renting office space or buying a condo in that building.
Web hosting vs. domain hosting
Before you can find a home for your website via web hosting, you first need a domain name. While related, web hosting and domain hosting are very different services. Web hosting is the process of connecting your website to a server, whereas domain hosting is the process of securing a domain name or web address for your website.
Following our earlier analogy, if web hosting is akin to renting space in a building then domain hosting is like putting a nameplate outside your door with your name and address. The domain is what people use to navigate to your address on the Internet.
Many service providers provide both domain hosting and web hosting, which can provide one-stop-shop convenience but, depending on your needs, you may want to consider separating the services. Regardless, before you can even consider web hosting, you first need a domain name via a domain registrar.
How to choose the best web hosting service for you
When choosing the best web hosting service, consider factors such as pricing, storage space and bandwidth limits, customer service, server location options, security features and whether it has automatic backups. Another thing you need to consider is its scalability.
Migrating a website, even when a web hosting service does it for you, isn’t an easy task. Does the host offer a wide range of options that will scale with your site? Additionally, how easy is your web host to use?
Essential web hosting features
We recommend that you look for a web hosting provider with the following key features, regardless of your specific website needs:
- Reliability and performance: Look for a hosting provider with good uptime, preferably 99.9% or higher so your site won’t experience outages. Most hosts provide a contractual guarantee where they’ll reimburse you part of your premium for outages
- Security: Make sure your web host has DDoS protection, SSL certificates and other security features so your site is safe from malicious attacks
- Customer service: Look for a host with 24/7 customer support, so you can easily get help if something goes wrong. What support options are available? Chat, phone, ticket and email support are typical for web hosts
- Storage and bandwidth: Storage and unmetered bandwidth are two of the most important factors to consider when choosing a web host. The more storage you have, the more content you can store, such as videos and images. Bandwidth affects how quickly your website loads and how much data is transferred when visitors view your site. Look for a host that provides unlimited storage and bandwidth
- Backups: It’s important to have regular backups of your website, so make sure the web host you choose offers automatic backups. If a hosting provider doesn’t automatically back up your website, consider investing in a third-party backup service.
Ease of use
Look for a web hosting provider with an intuitive user interface and control panel. This will save you time in the long run if you need to make changes or updates to your website. A good web host should offer one-click installations for popular content management systems (CMS), such as WordPress or Drupal, and a drag-and-drop website builder if you’re not comfortable with coding.
Finally, it’s important to consider scalability when choosing a web hosting service. How will you grow your website in the future? Will your host’s services be able to keep up with your growth? Does the host offer an easy way to scale up, such as offering VPS and dedicated hosting options? A good web host should be able to handle the growth of your website. Similarly, if you’re taking a break for a while, can you drop to a lower-tiered plan?
Types of web hosting
There are several different types of web hosting available. While there may be a tendency to favor the cheapest option, depending on your needs, this can lead to problems down the road. For this reason, it’s important to look not just at cost but customer service, security, speed and customisation options as well.
Shared hosting is most popular with small businesses and websites that don’t need a lot of customisation or expect a lot of traffic. Shared hosting provides space for several websites – dozens, hundreds or thousands – on one server.
Because the costs are relatively low, it is an economical option, but there could be service disruptions or slower connection speeds because several clients/websites are all accessing the same server’s resources, including disk space, RAM and central processing unit (CPU) power.
Virtual private server (VPS) hosting
A step up from shared hosting is VPS hosting. Similar to shared hosting, various websites are all housed on the same server, but each website’s files and content are housed in its own dedicated space on the server.
You will pay a little more than with shared hosting, but you also have your own section of the server isolated from other clients on the server. For this reason, VPS hosting is more secure. Additionally, VPS hosting is scalable to your needs and you’ll be able to modify the server and install any software that you need.
VPS hosting can be managed or unmanaged. If you choose managed VPS hosting, the host will provide all maintenance and services necessary to keep the website and server up and running. You’ll pay a little more for managed VPS hosting but you won’t be responsible for maintenance.
Conversely, using unmanaged VPS hosting will mean you are responsible for configuring and maintaining the server yourself, monitoring security threats, installing software upgrades and backing up your data. Unmanaged VPS hosting is a good option for website developers, businesses with a dedicated IT department and individuals with a technology background.
WordPress managed hosting
Because WordPress is such a popular content management system, many web hosting providers offer WordPress-specific hosting. In addition to web hosting, these providers also offer services such as technical support and software updates specific to WordPress.
It offers advantages like scalability, speed and security but it comes at a price with a cost of about £1 to £17 per month. Additionally, there are fewer customisation options since it is limited to WordPress features.
Cloud hosting houses your website on multiple servers for maximum performance and connection speeds. It is more expensive than shared hosting but it will minimise any connection or speed issues because it can handle traffic surges with ease.
Cloud hosting also offers scalability, backups and disaster recovery. These additional services come with a price, however, and the pricing models of cloud hosting providers can be confusing, depending on customisation of the plan.
Dedicated web hosting is when a website has sole use of the entire server. Because you have your own dedicated server, you minimise security and connection issues. But it comes at a price.
The costs may be justified, however, in a few situations. For instance, if you expect your website traffic to increase significantly, service disruptions and slow connection speeds could be detrimental to your business.
In this case, the cost of a dedicated server would be worth it because it will provide uninterrupted service and quick connection speeds. A dedicated server will also provide additional security, which will be helpful if you are dealing with personal information like credit card information.
Web hosting cost
Web hosting can range from a few pounds to hundreds of pounds a month, so it’s important to find a plan that fits your budget. Consider the renewal cost of the hosting plan as well since some providers offer a lower rate for the first term and then significantly increase the price when it’s time to renew.
Additionally, keep in mind that there may be some hosting features that you don’t need or can live without, so look for a plan that offers the best value.
For example, a cheaper plan doesn’t usually include a domain name and often includes just one website. A more expensive plan may include multiple domains, more storage and bandwidth and other features.
Average cost by hosting type
Pricing varies significantly between various types of web hosting services. Even within each type, there can be price differences between service providers depending on the level of customer service and the length of service plan chosen. In general, prices range as follows:
- Shared web hosting: up to £19 per month
- VPS web hosting: £1 to £30 per month
- WordPress managed hosting: £1 to £17 per month
- Cloud hosting: £4 to £60 per month
- Dedicated server hosting: £60 to several hundred pounds per month
Website hosting cost factors
There are several factors that go into the cost of website hosting. These include:
- Storage: The amount of data storage your hosting plan allows
- Bandwidth: How much traffic you can have on your website without interruption or slow speeds
- Number of websites: Depending on the plan, you may be able to host multiple websites with one account
- IP addresses: If you need a static IP address with your hosting plan, you may have to pay an additional cost
- SSL certificate: An SSL certificate keeps your website secure and safe from hackers. Some hosting plans offer a free SSL certificate but others may require you to purchase one in addition to the hosting plan
- Customer service: Some hosting companies offer 24/7 customer service while others may only provide limited support. Others will charge a premium but will walk you through fixing things that break on your site
- Customisation options: Hosting plans that allow for customisation and add-ons, such as databases or web servers, will usually cost more.
Fees & add-ons
Your web hosting provider may also charge additional fees, such as setup fees (often waived when signing a contract and paying up-front), domain registration fees or monthly support fees. Additionally, there may be add-on services you can purchase to enhance your website, such as SEO optimisation or extra security features. Be sure to read the fine print of your contract and thoroughly understand what is included in your hosting plan before signing up.
Do I need a web host?
Having a website for your business or personal use is essential in today’s digital world. You can choose to build and host your site yourself, or you may opt for an all-in-one website builder that includes hosting. However, if you want more control over your site and access to additional features, using a separate web hosting service might be the better choice.
Beyond hosting: other website setup considerations
In addition to hosting, there are a few other items you may want to consider when setting up your website. These include website builders, domain registration, email hosting and ecommerce functionality.
Website builders are tools or programs that allow you to create a website without the need for coding. They provide a variety of drag-and-drop templates and often include hosting, so you don’t need to purchase a separate plan.
Your domain name is the URL or web address that users type in to access your website. You can usually purchase and register a domain name when signing up for hosting, though many web hosting companies have an additional fee for domain registration. A domain name is important for businesses as it helps to create a professional online presence.
Having a dedicated email address is essential if you want to build customer trust. You can usually purchase email hosting from your web host or use a separate service such as Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite). Other web hosts include email hosting for free in their hosting plans.
If you plan to sell products or services online, then you’ll need to look for a hosting plan that offers ecommerce functionality. Hosts usually offer ecommerce hosting tools such as payment gateways, shopping carts and secure checkout pages to help you get started.
2023 web hosting trends
As the internet continues to grow and develop at an astounding rate, the web hosting industry has adapted to increased demands and greater expectations. These adaptations are apparent in the major 2023 web hosting trends we are seeing as we move into the new year.
Fewer on-site data centers
Similar to everywhere else, the cloud is becoming the number one choice for consumers in the web hosting industry. Companies are moving away from dedicated on-site servers and instead choose to base operations out of third-party, cloud-hosted servers.
Servers that operate in the cloud provide a tremendous number of benefits, including increased scaling potential, more flexibility, lower costs, the ability to create backups, improved security, regular maintenance and better software capability. Cloud computing is here to stay, and we expect more entities to move operations onto the cloud in 2023.
Multicloud hosting refers to the practice of delegating a site’s computing tasks to two or more different cloud computing platforms. Essentially, some functions of a site are performed by one vendor and other functions by another.
Multicloud hosting has become increasingly popular in recent years. By using this model, a company is not dependent on a single vendor for all its needs, and it can take advantage of the unique benefits and areas of strength each host offers. We expect to see multicloud hosting becoming an even more popular choice in 2023 as companies try to stay competitive in the virtual world.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the best web hosting company?
If you’re searching for a web host that can support and grow your business website, IONOS is the perfect solution. With all of their plans, you’ll receive one year of complimentary domain name registration, an SSL certificate free-of-charge as well as 24/7 customer service should any unforeseen issues arise.
HostGator has earned a place in our list of the best web hosting services due to its impressive value for money and dependable performance, as well as its abundant features tailored specifically to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). It provides limitless disk space, unlimited bandwidths and even boasts a 99% uptime guarantee.
Bluehost stands out as one of the most popular web hosting solutions, and there’s a reason why. It provides users with an impressive array of features at budget-friendly prices – perfect for novices in need of reliable web hosting.
How do I transfer my site from one host to another?
If you are planning to transfer your website from one host to another, the process is relatively straightforward but can vary depending on your current web hosting provider. Generally, you will need to create a backup of your website, download it from your current host and then upload it to the new hosting provider. You should also update your domain name record to point to the new server. Your web hosting provider may be able to help you or provide assistance with this process.
What is bandwidth in web hosting?
If you want to ensure efficiency and reliability for your website, be sure to select a web hosting plan with an adequate amount of bandwidth. Bandwidth is the measure of data that can be transmitted between your site and its visitors, typically in megabytes or gigabytes per second. The higher it is, the more guests you can accommodate on your page without lagging speeds. Many hosts offer numerous levels of bandwidth so make sure to pick one tailored toward fulfilling all needs pertaining to your website!
What is web hosting and why do I need it?
Web hosting is a service that allows anyone to essentially rent space on the internet, and websites must have web hosting to be accessible online. Some content management systems (CMS), such as Squarespace and Wix, include web hosting as part of their monthly fee, whereas if you’re building a site on WordPress, you’ll need to purchase web hosting from a web hosting provider, such as IONOS or HostGator.
What are the different types of web hosting services?
There are a number of different web hosting services but the most common are shared, VPS (virtual private server) and dedicated. Shared is the most popular choice as it’s also the most affordable. However, VPS and dedicated hosting offer more site security and enhanced website performance, making them a more popular choice amongst large and well-established websites.
How do I choose the best web hosting services?
When choosing the best web hosting services for your business, you’ll need to consider a variety of factors. The most important include your website’s size, traffic and goals. You’ll also want to consider the type of hosting you need – shared, VPS or dedicated hosting. And finally, factors such as which come with the extras you need (e.g., a domain name or business email) and support in your preferred contact method (e.g., live chat, phone or email) should influence your decision.
What is the cheapest way to host a website?
There are some web hosts offering free hosting and domain names but you shouldn’t use them as a business. This is because you’ll have the web host’s domain after yours (mycoolsite.webhostname.com). Shared hosting is your cheapest option, and we have a list of the best cheap web hosting services to consider.
Why is website hosting so expensive?
Website hosting can be expensive because it’s a competitive market. Most web hosts offer similar features and resources, so the best way to stand out is to offer more features, which often come at an additional cost. Web hosts also have to pay for the servers and infrastructure that power their websites, as well as 24/7 customer support.
Can I host my own website?
Yes, you can host your own website but, for most, this doesn’t make the most sense. It will be more costly and time-consuming than using a web hosting company because you’ll need your own servers and software as well as the knowledge of how to maintain them.
What is the difference between shared and VPS hosting?
Shared hosting is the most affordable type of web hosting as multiple websites are hosted on the same server, thus sharing resources and reducing costs. VPS hosting is a more secure type of hosting as each website is hosted on a virtual private server with its own resources. This setup allows for more control over the server, making it ideal for larger and more established websites. However, VPS hosting is more expensive than shared hosting.
What does unlimited bandwidth mean?
Unlimited bandwidth means that your web hosting service doesn’t limit the amount of data you can use. Does this mean you can use as much bandwidth as you want? Not necessarily. Most hosting companies have fair usage policies, so while they may not limit the amount of data being used, they will monitor your usage and may ask you to upgrade if it becomes excessive.