The Internet is one of those things that we all use, but few of us actually understand.
If you ask the average person how the Internet works, you’re likely to receive a blank stare. Ask them, “How does web hosting work?” and the blank stare will intensify.
Web hosting is something that sounds very complicated. In reality, though, once you know the lingo and structure, web hosting is easy to understand.
Here’s a beginner’s guide to web hosting and how it works.
What is a Web Host?
Before you can take steps to build a website, you first need to find a web host.
A web host is a place where people store their websites. You can think of it as a house, but rather than storing furniture, you’re storing computer files.
There are different types of web hosting (more on that later). In general, a web host will “rent out” their servers to store your website and provide the connectivity you need for users to find your site.
Domain Name vs. Web Hosting
A common misconception is that web hosting is the same as a domain name.
A domain name is the actual name of your website: www.websitenamehere.com. Think of it as the mailing address for the house (web host) that stores your site.
Before you can set up your website, you first need to choose your domain name. Once you make sure that it’s available to use, you can purchase and register it.
How Does Web Hosting Work?
Let’s say someone types your domain name into their Internet browser. What happens next?
First, your web host will receive the request via their servers (computers). The server responds to the request for your web page and sends it to the user via the Internet. All this happens in a matter of seconds.
Think of the server like a hard drive that stores all your website pages, files, and images. This is similar to you moving into a rented house and paying your landlord to live there.
Because the server is “hosting” your site, you need to pay a monthly or yearly hosting charge. It’s the same concept as paying rent on a physical house, except you’re paying for a slice of virtual property.
You could theoretically set up your own server at home, but this requires a huge amount of knowledge and time. Paying a hosting service is a better solution, as it provides more freedom for you and reliability for your website.
What Kind of Web Hosting is Right For Me?
This depends on what type of website you’re setting up.
Certain platforms, like Shopify and Squarespace, provide automatic hosting through the company.
More often than not, though, you’ll set up your website through a self-hosted site like WordPress. In fact, WordPress powers around 75 million sites, or 25% of the world’s websites.
If you use WordPress or a similar self-hosted program, you’ll need to find a hosting site (server space) to place them on.
Do you know how to respond the next time someone asks you, “How does web hosting work?”
After reading our beginner’s guide, you should have a much clearer answer to that question.
For more expert tips, be sure to check our recent posts on website creation.