What is website hosting?

What is website hosting? This is a question we hear a lot from our customers, especially new, who are not conversant with matters website. It prompted us to come up with this post, and below, we give a lowdown on the topic.

For many of us, the Internet is just one of those things. We use it every day, but we cannot really tell about its actual workings. As long as the Wi-Fi is functioning and we can access our favorite websites, that’s it, job done.

This also goes for website owners. A good deal of them don’t really have a grasp of what happens behind the scenes to ensure their websites can be seen on displays the world over.

If you asked us, we think it is a good idea to have at least a little understanding of how your website manages to exist if you are planning to have one, double so if it is a business website.

Not to worry, though, that’s why we are here.

The aim of this post is to shed a light on what is website hosting and the different options that exist, revealing the pros and cons of each hosting type. And we will be breaking it down in a language that is easy to understand for those not particularly adept at this game.

So, without much ado…

What is Website Hosting exactly?

First things first, the Internet is a global system comprising interconnected networks that communicate using standardized communication protocols.

Now, every single website on the Internet has to be stored some place, and that is where hosting comes into the picture.

In plain English, website hosting is a service that allows website owners to store their website information (code, texts, images, videos, emails and databases) where people can access that information. This is made possible through the help of servers whose job is to hold, or rather store, all that stuff on the Internet that people consume.

A server is basically a computer connected to the Internet 24/7/365. Think the CPU portion sans the monitor, keyboard and mouse, albeit much more powerful.

Sure, you could host your website from your own computer if you wanted to. But the computers used for professional hosting (servers rather) are awfully powerful, loaded with numerous hard disks and memory, and specially optimized to ensure they deliver website files to thousands, if not millions, of users at the same time.

That is a feat a computer sitting in your bedroom would have trouble achieving.

Servers are designed to hold huge amounts of traffic. They have backup systems in place in the event one of them or a part of it shuts down (as is likely to), and they are configured to curb information leaks, block attacks and so on.

In order to have your website hosted, all you need to do is talk to a hosting provider to sell you server space based on your needs – number of visitors who frequent your website, desired site load speed, security and privacy, server management and more.

Website Hosting vs. Domain Hosting and Email Hosting

While we are still on the subject, it is worth pointing out that web hosting is not the same as domain hosting and email hosting, two services that might be a little murky for those not very conversant with the subject, especially the former.

Domain hosting has to do with your website domain, what some may know as the website address (for example, www.thisismywebsite.com). Web hosting and domain go hand in hand, but in essence, the domain is essentially a distinct entity from your actual website, and it too has to be “hosted” somewhere.

This happens by simply purchasing a domain name from a domain name registrar (GoDaddy, for example), but it is a service rendered by most web hosting companies. Matter of fact, it is much more convenient to have both your website and domain name hosted at the same location.

Email hosting, on the other hand, is a service often bundled together by some webhosts as part of their web hosting offering. However, it is possible to get standalone email hosting from the hosting company or use an external email provider like Google’s G Suite or Microsoft’s Outlook servers.

Types of Website Hosting

There are different types of website hosting which can be placed into four distinct categories:

  • Shared hosting
  • VPS hosting
  • Dedicated hosting
  • Cloud hosting

These categories are mostly based on the technology used for the hosting server.

Let’s delve into each briefly.

  1. Shared Website Hosting

This form of website hosting is the most common, and often the cheapest. This is because it involves sharing the same hosting environment among a large number of people (and by large it could be more than 1,000 website owners) therefore spreading the costs around.

As its name implies, shared hosting involves sharing a hosting environment.

But it’s more than that really.

Scratch beneath the surface and you find that all these websites share a single server’s resources. While this contributes to the low hosting costs, a notable problem associated with this is slow site speed because every website is competing for the server’s resources.

A server may be incredibly powerful, but even it has its limitations. This is especially when you consider the said 1,000 website owners could have multiple sites hosted on a shared environment, which could more than double or triple the 1,000 websites.

As well, a shared hosting environment is prone to what is called the “bad neighbor effect”. This is whereby if one website has a problematic code or attracts a large stream of visitors, it could consume a large chunk of the server’s memory, say 40%, thus leaving the thousands of other websites competing for the remaining 60%.

That is not ideal, unless you are a business starting out or hosting a blog where site uptime is not a big issue.

  1. VPS Website Hosting

VPS stands for virtual private server. It is a tad costly compared to shared web hosting, but it offers greater control and flexibility, with additional perks to boot.

Just so it’s clear, a VPS server is still a shared environment, although the sharing is a bit different in this case.

For one, a VPS server is mostly restricted to only about 10 and 20 users. That in itself is a huge plus. But the added bonus that comes with VPS hosting is that each website is allocated equal resources (say 150GB hard drive space and 10GB of RAM) such that when one website hits its allotted limit, it will only affect itself without impacting on the others.

This is made possible by what is called a hypervisor, a function that oversees this separation with the aim of curbing the bad neighbor effect.

Business owners, or anyone else for that matter, who expects their websites to grow will find this option a great choice as it is highly scalable. It is extremely easy to bump up the amount of resources assigned to websites should the need to scale up your website come up.

VPS hosting is akin to dedicated hosting, only that it is cheaper because the cost is spread out amongst several users.

  1. Dedicated Website Hosting

Dedicated hosting is the most personal and flexible option out there because it gives the website owner full control over the server.

Full control in this case implies you can reboot the server and install whatever you want, whenever you want because no other accounts are hosted on your server. Think of it as renting the server: the hardware remains in the custody of the host provider, but all handling of software is within your control.

This is what is known as unmanaged dedicated hosting and is best suited for businesses with their own system administrators due to the complexities involved.

However, you could also opt for a managed dedicated hosting solution if you don’t have an advanced user or system administrator on site. The host provider will take some tasks off your hands, but still, there are some things you will need to do on your own.

Dedicated website hosting is mostly ideal for websites that attract a huge amount of visitors (upwards of 100K visits a month), and is the best choice from a security standpoint.

On the downside, apart from the technical knowhow required to keep a dedicated server in shape, this solution is, expectedly, crazy expensive.

  1. Cloud Website Hosting

Cloud computing is all the rage these days, so it is only apt that web hosting join in on the fun as well.

Cloud hosting works in just the same way as cloud computing where data and documents are stored not in local storage, but in a virtual storage system instead.

In this case, the cloud hosting service basically provides the website owner with a place to store data, but rather than store this data on a physical server, all the action happens on a virtual partition. The cloud makes use of underlying physical services to draw resources from, and these then go on to support the data on the cloud.

The “service” aspect in this case means your hosting provider will help you manage the hosting for you, which some may deem an advantage.

Again, just as in cloud computing, cloud hosting allows you to tap into the resources you need, whenever you need them. This absolves you of the need to pay for features you don’t frequently use, let alone use at all.

Cloud computing is typically associated with scalability, and it is no different with cloud hosting. This form of web hosting guarantees the most scalability with no maximum hardware capacity really. Cloud hosting also provides robust security thanks to its large network which is extensive enough to withstand hacker attacks better than any single-server system could.

Cloud hosting is being embraced not just by individual website owners, but also hosting providers who are shifting operations on giant cloud-based architectures offered by the likes of Google and Amazon.


While these are but basic descriptions of the main types of web hosting based on server technology, we do hope they help bring better clarity on each idea.

In closing, allow us to say that choosing the type of hosting service best suited for you or your business is only half the battle. The other half revolves around choosing a good web hosting company.

Ideally, you want a provider who can guarantee, first and foremost, reliable server uptime. The provider should also be always on hand to provide around-the-clock technical and customer support. The provider should be able to offer an array of hosting packages, and at a reasonable price at that.

As well, the web host should offer flexible payment plans. Some website owners are comfortable with a month-by-month subscription, others 3-6 months, for instance, while there are those who would rather an annual subscription. These should all be catered for without throwing a blanket solution on offerings.

Lastly, a good hosting company should also be one you can grow with as your website or business scales without the need to migrate your website to a different provider just because your current one cannot comfortably accommodate your needs. That’s a pickle you don’t want to get yourself into.


If you still need more information on what is website hosting, feel free to get in touch and we will be happy to address any issues revolving around the subject.