Web Hosting refers to storing the files of your website or blog at a location which is accessible universally on the World Wide Web. That location is called a Web Server. Web Servers are just high capacity CPUs, with appropriate Server software installed. Such web servers usually have a static IP address, so that the files stored on them can be easily accessed by any internet user, by just being referred to a file location on the server, through the IP address. For the files to be accessed conveniently, you need to specify a Domain Name, which is another name representing an IP address pointing to a folder on the Web Server.
Thus, using multiple folders corresponding to multiple domains, a single Web Server can Host multiple websites. The sub-Domains of a domain again point to sub-directories on the Web Server.
For normal internet usage, we use home-based computers, Laptops, mobiles or other devices. However, these devices cannot normally be used as Web Servers. The reasons are :
- They don’t have a dedicated IP address, thus no file location is permanently accessible on the Internet.
- They usually do not have a high file-handling capacity and processor capacity, as is required when thousands of people access the same files simultaneously.
- They do not have a highly stable and reliable power supply, for 24×7 access by people on the Internet.
Thus, we need to purchase space on Web Servers owned by other individuals and companies in order to have a website which can be accessed by others over the internet. Web Hosting services vary in terms of :
- Web Server space
- File-handling capacity or Bandwidth
- Processor Speed
- Number of simultaneous connections to the SQL Databases
- Security of the files stored, including protection from vicious hackers
- Dedicated IP addresses for domain names
- SQL Database space allowed
- Server Uptime (should be >99%)
…and the list continues.
Thus, with hundreds of web hosting companies and thousands of service plans to choose from, it becomes a pretty tough task to select the most reliable, cost-effective as well as powerful web hosting service.