A Definitive Guide To Web Hosting, Server and Their Types (2021)

This is a complete definitive guide to web hosting for beginners. In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • Definition of server
  • What are web hosting, and their types?
  • Best Service Providers.
  • How to host a website?
  • And a lot more.

Clarity: I’m not going to throw random data at you to make things complicated. This article contains the right information that you need to understand the types of web host without getting too complex.

Alright, let’s start learning.

a definitive guide to web hosting

What is Web Hosting?

Web Hosting Meaning: Hosting is made up of the word ‘Host‘ which simply means to ‘store‘. Therefore, web hosting is a virtual or physical hard disk that stores the various components of a website. It is the building backbone of a website. It helps us to put a webpage live on the internet.

The elements of a website are script files like PHP, HTML, JS, CSS, etc. and multimedia files such as Text, Image, Audio, Video, etc. A website also contains folders and database tables. So, a host provides a storage facility to keep all these parts in one place.

The company or organization that supplies such packages or services is known as a web hosting provider. They have built heavy large-sized computers and CPUs in terms of memory to run the system.

Similarly, a server is a portal, gateway, or door that works like a computer program and provides access to the centralized storage point. It may use the medium of internet, wires, or Local Area Network (LAN) to transmit the data.

Moreover, a client might be a desktop computer, program, software, game, or web browser that requests the data from the server. It displays the output when the main host agrees to transfer files through the server. In simple words, the browser that you are using to display and read this page is a client.

At last, a web browser is an operating system based software or program whose task is to load data from the server and display websites. For example, Microsoft Edge, Opera, Google Chrome, Brave, Netscape Navigator, Mozilla Firefox, etc.

Types of Web Hosting – Based on Technology Used

1. Linux Hosting

Linux Hosting is the most popular form of web hosting whose server is built on the Linux Operating System. About 96.3% of the top 1 million ranked websites on Alexa are using the Linux OS.

Since Linux is an open-source OS since 1991, these types of hosts are relatively cheaper. Open Source describes a royalty-free program and software. We can modify and redistribute their source code legally without having to purchase the copyright license, 100% free of cost.

2. Windows Hosting

Windows Hosting is a type of host that is built in the Windows OS. It helps to produce dynamic web-pages using frameworks like ASP.NET (Active Server Pages) and MS Frontpage.

We can easily integrate any Microsoft applications, products, and cross-browser scripts into our websites using Windows Hosting. It utilizes MS Access, Index Server, Visual Basic scripts, and SQL databases to run.

3. Difference Between Linux and Windows Hosting

The following are the key differences between Linux and Windows hosting:

Linux HostingWindows Hosting
More Popular.Less Popular.
Operating System is Open-Source.The license is owned by Microsoft.
Cheaper & Affordable.Expensive.
Good for simple blogs and websites that run on CMSs like WordPress.Best to run complex websites and windows specific applications like ASP.NET.
Supports Web Host Manager (WHM), Plesk, and cPanel control panels.Supports Plesk and WebsitePanel control panel
Case sensitive file names. For example, Root.html and root.html are different.File names are not case sensitive. Example: Root.html, root.html, etc. are the same.
Supports iptables, pam, and tcp_wrapper for higher security.It has a firewall only for security.
Uses the MySQL database system.Uses MSSQL.
It contains a ModSecurity firewall for application protection.Applications are at high risk due to the absence of lower-level security phases.
Higher chances of getting support from the hosting provider.Fewer chances of getting support since it’s not used everywhere.

Please Note: Your working computer operating system does not have to be running on either of the above OS. You can access the hosting backend through a web browser. Only the provider has to install such equipment in their servers.

Types of Hosting – Based on Service & Distribution

1. Cloud Hosting

When we listen to the word cloud, our mind starts imagining the white cloud in the sky, fog, mist, and haze. It’s not that what we imagine in our brain when it comes to ‘cloud hosting‘.

When multiple servers located at several different parts of the world are connected into one, it forms a new server which is known as a ‘cloud server‘. The hosting supported by such a server is known as ‘Cloud Hosting‘.

The advantage of cloud hosting is that it stores our website data on every server located in multiple parts of the world, not just one. Let’s say, you are running a site from Nepal, and purchased hosting from a local seller. Now, if a user from Africa wants to get our data, their client will browse through the nearest server location in Africa to get the data instead of routing directly to Nepal. This saves time and improves website loading speed by 10x.

Since cloud hosting is made by combining multiple computers, CPUs, and data centres into one, it is very powerful. Based on the investment made, your website won’t break even if you receive 10K to 100K real-time visitors. They are good for sites that are receiving a decent amount of users every day, also suitable for big projects.

Fact: Big companies like  Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. run servers in their own cloud hosting platforms.

2. Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is a cheaper form of the web host in which a single server stores data from multiple users. They share the same resources, hard disks, computers, Operating System, and CPU with every customer. Since the physical components used are the same for all, it costs less money.

This is good for beginners, learners, and websites/applications with low traffic, aka fewer visitors. As hundreds or even thousands of users are sharing the same hardware, this server is relatively slow in comparison.

3. Dedicated Server

dedicated server is a type of web hosting package that shares specific resources with one customer only. It does not supply one hard disk or CPU with multiple users. By which means, only your website and content will be hosted, no other customers or applications are allowed.

A dedicated server is required when the traffic starts to grow at a rapid rate. Like it may increase up to 100k real-time users, or at least if you are expecting that in the near future. In this case, other shared servers fail to handle the request. They have low bandwidth capabilities and resource limitations. As a result, your website might go down. So, to prevent the overloading for heavy-trafficked sites, we use dedicated servers.

Dedicated hosting gives us full control over all the features of the server. Since you are the only one posting contents on it, there are fewer security threats and an increase in loading speed. It’s also good if you run an e-commerce store because your personal and credit card information remains safe unless there’s a serious cyber attack.

In a nutshell, you need a dedicated server when there’re higher security risks and an increase in website traffic. It has numerous types, most of which (the most important ones) are described here.

4. VPS Hosting

VPS (Virtual Private Server) is a type of shared web hosting that gives the root level of access and creates a Virtual Machine (VM) to act as a dedicated host. In short, VPS is a combination of both shared and dedicated hosting but with virtualization.

Every customer that has purchased a VPS is provided with their own VM to provide a dedicated server experience. So this is cheap since no real hardware is used up and saves our money if we’re unaware that we need a full dedicated server.

You need a VPS hosting when your traffic reaches beyond the capacity of a shared server but is still not big enough to buy a dedicated server. It provides better speed, security, and performance than shared hosting.

5. Managed Hosting

Managed Hosting is a type of dedicated hosting in which the provider manages the hardware and administration on your behalf. But it still gives us full control over the performance. You also have the option to choose the Operating System.

The company configures software and application setup, does system maintenance, provides technical support, and automatic updates. Such services can be customized and are available in the form of add-ons accessed through a web-based interface.

Managed hosting is also available for cloud, shared, and VPS. It saves us money required for maintenance costs, security system installation, backup, recovery, and troubleshooting errors.

6. Colocation

Colocation is a type of web hosting in which the content host has their own hardware without leasing from anyone. Instead, they try to increase their performance and bandwidth by hiring server space from a data centre. It’s like owning a car but renting some area in your neighbourhood garage to park it.

To run a colocation host, we must build our own necessary hardware and server at first. Then, connect those infrastructures with the storage space taken in rent from a data centre. It gives us the highest level of control than the cloud, VPS, or any other hosting.

How to host a website in 4 easy steps

The process to host a website is quite simple. But before starting, you must have a domain name owned. After that, follow these steps:

  1. Find DNS (Domain Name Server) information by visiting the web host control panel, or by asking your provider for information.
  2. Login to your domain’s administrator area, and replace the DNS correctly. Some companies immediately resolve the DNS, while some take up to 48 hours. You need to wait until the domain correctly points to the appropriate server.
  3. Once resolved, open the hosting file manager and start uploading content. You can use an FTP client if direct uploading is not possible.
  4. If you don’t know to code and want to host websites made on platforms like WordPress, there must be a one-click installation option for it (depends upon the company). If it is not available, follow step 3 after downloading the WP Files from their official store. Learn from this guide.

Some of the best web hosting services companies in the world (paid) are as follows:

  • Blue Host
  • HostGator
  • Dream Host
  • A2 Hosting
  • Hostinger
  • iPage, etc.

The following is a list of best free Web Hosting Sites in 2020:

  • Infinity Free Hosting
  • 000webhost
  • Freehostia
  • Sites.Google.com
  • AwardSpace
  • FreeHosting.com

Please note: We are not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned here.

Your Turn: Since I have described so much here, it is your time to explain now. Which web hosting type are you going to select for your next project? Let me know quickly in the comments below.

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