A point by point explanation of how web hosting works:
- Web hosting is the service that gives your website a place to live on the Internet for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Your website has to be housed on a computer somewhere that is always connected to the Internet. This computer on which your website will live is called a Web Server and is owned by your web hosting company.
- Web hosting is in essence a subscription service.
In order to continually make sure that your website has a place to live you will have to pay recurring amounts: either monthly or yearly. These amounts are used to maintain the computer (or web server) your site is on, pay salaries for the team looking after it, pay for the space and connection to the internet.
- Some big websites and companies – such as Google and Ebay – do their own web hosting. This is the exception rather than the rule.
It is usually the best bet to let another organisation do the hosting for your site. Here are some of the reasons why:Uptime. If your website goes down in the middle of the night for any reason someone else takes care of the problem for you. Generally you won’t even know that the site was down. With most web hosting companies your site will have at least 98% or better uptime.
Salary Expense. In order to make sure that the computer your site is on is running smoothly at all times you will have to hire a full time employee called a Systems Administrator. When you use a web hosting company then the cost of the skills are spread across all their clients.
Security. There are hackers out there who enjoy causing havoc. A web hosting company will generally have experience in ensuring their client’s websites are as secure as possible.
- The specific computer on which your website lives is called a web server.
Generally speaking, if the web server that your website is hosted on goes down, your website goes down.
- A web server typically hosts many websites.
Just because your website is stored on a computer does not mean it is the only one on the web server. Generally there are many websites on one web server to produce economies of scale which enable you to get affordable web hosting.
- An established web hosting company will generally own many web servers which in turn host many websites.
Each web server the hosting company owns will typically host hundreds of individual websites and domain names. A bigger web hosting company will typically own hundreds of web servers.
- Across the world there are many more websites than there are web servers because it is possible to host thousands of small websites on one web server.
- If you sign up with a web hosting company, your website will be assigned to one of their web servers.
- Your domain name will be assigned to one of their name servers.
A name server is a computer which will connect your domain name (www.YourDomain.co.za) to the web server where your website lives.
- Your name server and a web server work together to get visitors from all over the world to your website.
- This is how it works:
Your visitor types your domain name in his browser. Based on information provided by your hosting company’s name server, your website is found to live on the specific web server where it was originally assigned to by your web hosting company.
A single page of your website is sent to the visitor’s browser by the web server.
The process repeats when your visitor goes to the next page of your website.
- NOT ALL WEB HOSTING COMPANIES ARE CREATED EQUAL.
There are many companies to choose from. It’s probably best to start with an inexpensive host. If you don’t like the service, you can always move.