If you want to establish an online presence, it’s essential to understand what web hosting is. Whether you’re building a website yourself or like to learn more about the topic, we’re here to help you with everything you need to know about how web hosting works.
Let’s dive right in!
What Is Web Hosting and How Does It Work?
Web hosting is the process of purchasing online space to store your website on the internet. Signing up for a web hosting service empowers you to publish your website online.
When you create a WordPress website, you need two things: a domain name and a hosting option.
WordPress, the world’s top content management system (CMS), is free to use but requires a web host — which serves and stores your website files — and a domain name, which is your website’s address.
Websites are made up of different files such as HTML, CSS, and images, which are needed to display your content online. These files are uploaded from your computer and stored in the web server’s online space.
A web server is a physical computer that connects other users to your website. Whenever someone types your website’s address into their browser, your host transfers all the files needed to fulfill that request.
Besides storing and delivering files, hosting services usually help you with website maintenance too, such as backups, security, and uptime. Since hosting providers’ features and prices can vary widely, choosing a hosting plan that fits your needs is crucial.
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Web Hosting and Domain Name System
We mentioned that WordPress websites require a host and domain name.
When users want to access your website, they type your domain name into their browser. Their computer sends a request to connect to the web server keeping your files.
Before reaching your web server, the request passes through a network of name servers, which make up the domain name system (DNS). At the DNS, the request looks up the server’s IP addresses and forwards the request to them.
In short, the DNS makes sure the browser connects to the correct server.
You can think of the web server as the location of your home, and the domain name as its address. Your home can be anywhere globally, but the domain name allows people to locate you.
The DNS was born because websites communicate through IP addresses, strings of numbers that are hard to memorize. Tying an easy-to-remember domain name to a website’s IP address makes navigating the web simpler.
Website owners can buy domain names from domain name registrars.
Types of Web Hosting
Now that you know what web hosting is, we’ll look at the different types of web hosting plans out there.
Different clients have different needs. An online business that uses multiple media files and receives numerous visitors has more hosting requirements than a personal website used for blogging.
Hosting providers consider speed, storage space, and price for their hosting plan offerings. Each option has different payoffs.
Let’s look at the most popular options available.
Shared WordPress hosting
As you learn what web hosting is, you’ll likely hear about shared web hosting. Shared hosting is best for entry-level functions. Because it’s targeted at beginners, shared hosting packages often come with website builders, templates, and email features.
With shared hosting, you share server resources such as disk space and bandwidth with other websites, making it the most affordable option. However, because you share space with multiple websites on one server, risks are involved.
Shared hosting can affect website performance. For example, if one of the other websites experiences heavy traffic, it will slow down your website. There are also security risks with shared hosting that could lead to a hacked website.
Websites on a shared host also share an IP address. If a neighboring website performs an illegal activity, your IP address will be blocked, preventing users or even Google from accessing your website.
Best for: New websites that receive minimal web traffic, such as small business websites.
- Pre-configured server options
- Requires little to no technical knowledge
- Host takes care of server maintenance
- Shared resources with other websites can affect security and speed
- Shared IP address
- Little to no control over server configuration
Dedicated WordPress hosting
Dedicated hosting is on the opposite end of shared hosting. It’s usually the most expensive type of hosting because it gives website owners the most control over their servers.
With dedicated hosting, you rent the whole server, so you’re in charge of everything from choosing its operating system to maintain.
Best for: Website owners who have high traffic levels or need control over their servers.
- Dedicated server space
- Faster website speed
- Scalable and customizable
- Most expensive type of hosting
- Requires technical expertise
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is the middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting.
VPS hosting mimics dedicated hosting because each website has its own space on the server, but websites on VPS hosting still share server space with others.
Best for: Website owners who require more control over their servers but don’t necessarily need a dedicated server.
- Provides dedicated server space without the hefty price tag
- Website owners can configure their server space
- Doesn’t require much technical knowledge
- Unable to handle high traffic levels or spikes
- Performance is still affected by other websites on the server
What is web hosting’s most reliable option? Cloud hosting. Unlike regular hosting, which takes a centralized approach by storing multiple websites’ data on a physical server, cloud hosting operates on virtualization.
With virtualization, data appears to be stored on one server, but multiple storage devices share the physical server’s capacity. Because data is stored in various locations, it can be easily backed up and retrieved. It’s also more flexible since it’s easier to add storage space.
Best for: High-traffic websites that need plenty of processing power, bandwidth, and disk space, such as ecommerce stores.
- Little to no downtime
- Resources scale to users’ needs
- Difficult to estimate actual costs because it varies monthly
- Dependent on the internet
Web hosting is often comprised of one of those four plans, but hosting packages also cater to specific markets.
Managed WordPress hosting (or simply WordPress hosting) is a type of shared hosting for WordPress users.
Servers are configured specifically for WordPress, so your website runs faster and more smoothly. WordPress hosting plans also include special features, such as:
- Pre-installed plugins.
- One-click WordPress
- Pre-designed WordPress
- Drag-and-drop builders.
- Customer support team knowledgeable with WordPress.
Kinsta’s WooCommerce hosting page
With the prevalence of ecommerce shops, hosting providers have introduced ecommerce hosting.
Like WordPress hosting, ecommerce hosting offers unique features tailored to the business. These often include:
WooCommerce hosting is a subtype of ecommerce hosting that you may want to consider if your site features a WooCommerce-powered shop.
What to Consider Before Signing Up for Web Hosting
Now that we’ve covered what web hosting is and the different hosting plans, we’ll weigh in on each feature to help you choose the right web hosting service provider — and why Kinsta is the best choice over other web hosts.
Choosing the right hosting plan and company is essential to ensure your business’s success. Both affect your website’s speed, security, scalability, and usability.
Here are some standard features hosting plans offer and what to look for when choosing a host.
1. Disk Space
What is web hosting without disk space?
All hosting plans offer a certain amount of disk space that you can use to store your files.
We recommend determining your website’s storage requirements before choosing a hosting plan. By doing so, you can better estimate which plan to use.
Different websites have different storage requirements. If your website is media-rich, invest in a plan with extra storage, as those files take up a lot of space.
If you can’t estimate your storage requirements yet, plan for growth by choosing a hosting provider that lets you buy more disk space.
The Kinsta Advantage: Add-On Disk Space
At Kinsta, not only do we offer multiple hosting plans, but you also have the option to purchase add-on disk space — which not all hosting companies do.
Purchasing disk space at Kinsta is simple: You have to sign up for additional disk space from your MyKinsta dashboard. You can also monitor billing and disk space usage through MyKinsta.
A web hosting service isn’t complete without bandwidth.
Bandwidth allowance (also loosely referred to as “data transfer” or “traffic”) is the measure of a server’s capacity to transfer data within a specific time frame. It’s expressed in megabytes per second (MB/s) or gigabytes per second (GB/s).
Bandwidth is a critical feature if you want your website to run faster, because bandwidth size determines the maximum amount of data transmitted from your site to your users.
If you want higher bandwidth, you need your server, or one that shares its resources with fewer websites. But remember, higher bandwidth comes at a higher price, since there are fewer users to split the cost of renting the server.
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Hosting packages offer a set amount of bandwidth per month. Before choosing a hosting plan, determine the suitable bandwidth for your website by estimating your website’s size and the number of visitors.
As you learn what web hosting is, you’ll sometimes see hosts advertising unlimited bandwidth… but it’s impossible to have unlimited bandwidth. There will always be a maximum speed limit due to physical constraints.
The Kinsta Advantage: Visitor-Based Pricing Model
Unlike most web hosting companies, Kinsta doesn’t offer bandwidth-based plans. Instead, we switched to a visitor-based pricing model because it’s easier for our customers to understand and calculate.
While we’ve moved away from a bandwidth-based model, you can still track both bandwidth and visitor count data on your MyKinsta dashboard.
Our customers choose to host with us because we’re awesome — not because we bill by bandwidth.
3. Uptime and Downtime
The best web hosting can run without downtime or interruption, so your website is always available to visit.
If the server does fail, high-performance hosting plans can get it back up and running quickly.
Uptime measures the percentage of time your website is up and available to visitors — the closer to 100% uptime, the better. Kinsta offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee because we’re hosted on the Google Cloud Platform.
The Kinsta Advantage: Private Cloud Hosting
Kinsta’s entire infrastructure is built on the Google Cloud Platform, which allows our physical server’s capacity to be shared by multiple storage devices. Because data is stored in various locations, should the server hosting your website go down, your website will be back up in no time.
4. Website Speed
Users expect websites to load in five seconds or less.
Besides affecting user experience, website speed also impacts SEO. Not all web hosting companies can guarantee quick website speeds.
One of the things that makes Kinsta’s WordPress hosting plans stand out is that we don’t fall in any of the traditional hosting categories. Instead, our web hosting is built on Google Cloud and Cloudflare, allowing every website hosted on our platform to run in an isolated software container that contains all the software needed to run your website (Linux, NGINX, PHP, MySQL).
The isolated software container ensures each software is 100% private and not shared even between your websites. Besides the security benefits, customers have reported a 50% decrease in website load speeds — resulting in a churn rate under 5%.
The Kinsta Advantage: Multiple Global Data Centers
Kinsta ensures website speeds by letting you choose between different Google Cloud data center locations for your WordPress websites. That enables you to place your website close to your visitors, ensuring low latency and time to first byte (TTFB) and fast load times.
All these features combined with HTTP/2 CDN and the latest versions of PHP 7 ensure you’ve got the best performance stack in the industry.
Kinsta offers secure web hosting plans
Website security is no laughing matter.
Besides disk space and bandwidth, websites also need the security offered by hosting providers.
Although WordPress is secure, its popularity has made it a target for data breaches.
We recommend comparing each hosting plan’s default security features if you’re not tech-savvy. Many cheap or free web hosting plans may provide some default security features but offer advanced features as add-ons.
All websites hosted on Kinsta come with a free SSL certificate. We also support two-factor authentication and IP geolocation blocking. We enforce strong passwords for all new installs and automatically ban IP addresses that have more than six failed login attempts in a minute.
We even offer a hack-free guarantee. If your website gets compromised, we’ll fix it for free.
And because no website is 100% hack-proof, we also automatically create two weeks’ worth of backups.
The Kinsta Advantage: Cloudflare’s Enterprise-Level Firewall
Kinsta leverages Cloudflare’s enterprise-level firewall to protect customer websites. Cloudflare’s firewall lets us block malicious traffic, and our Cloudflare integration includes free distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection. That means better protection for your WordPress site.
6. Control Panel
While it doesn’t directly affect website performance, you should also look into your hosting account’s control panel.
Control panels enable you to control server processes. You can find different tools to:
- Upload and manage web pages, domains, and subdomains
- Manage privacy and security
- Redirect visitors to another location
- Install applications
- Create and manage email accounts
- Back up data
- Protect directories
Control panels also allow you to access the file transfer protocol (FTP), which transfers files between your computer and an online server.
When you shop around for hosting plans, don’t forget to read reviews on the usability of the company’s control panel. You won’t be able to explore or maximize your website’s functions if it’s complicated or confusing to use.
The Kinsta Advantage: MyKinsta
MyKinsta landing page. (Image source: Kinsta)
MyKinsta is Kinsta’s control panel. It was developed as an alternative to cPanel or Plesk with WordPress in mind.
MyKinsta empowers you to:
- Easily manage multiple WordPress websites
- Pre-install plugins
- Migrate your WordPress website
- Clone your existing sites
- Add and manage domains
- Track performance and analytics
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Now that you know what web hosting is, the different types, and what to consider before you sign up for a plan, it’s time to build your website.
Whether you plan to create a personal website or run an agency, Kinsta has the perfect plan for you. All of Kinsta’s WordPress plans include:
- Free WordPress installation
- Free SSL certificates
- Enterprise Cloudflare integrations
- One-click staging environments
- 24/7 uptime monitoring
- Technical support
Get all that and much more with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Check out our happy customers or contact us to find the right plan for you.The post What Is Web Hosting? And How Does It Work? appeared first on Kinsta®.