What is web hosting? Whenever you visit a website, what you see on your web browser is essentially just a web page that is downloaded from web server onto your web browser. In general, a web site is made up of many web pages. And a web page is basically composed of texts and graphic images. All these web pages need to be stored on web servers so that online users can visit your website.
Therefore, if you plan to own a new website, you will need to host your website on a web server. When your website goes live on web server, online users can then browse your website on Internet. Company that provides web servers to host your website is called web hosting providers.
A well-established web hosting provider sometimes hosts up to thousands of websites. For example, ‘Best Web Host of Year 2003’ award winner, iPowerWeb, is a web hosting company that hosts more than 200,000 websites. For that reason, a web hosting company need many web servers (essentially, these are computers) to ‘store’ website. And all these web servers are connected to Internet through high speed Internet connection and housed in a physical building called ‘data center’. In order to guarantee all web servers are safe, secure and fully operational all time, a data center is a physically secure 24/7 environment with fire protection, HVAC temperature control, virus detections, computer data backup, redundant power backup and complete disaster recovery capabilities.
What are different types of web hosting? There are different kinds of web hosting companies out there with different characteristics. The main types of web hosts can be organized into following categories:
a. Shared Hosting
In shared hosting (also known as virtual web hosting), many websites are sharing space on same physical web servers. Depending on web host, a physical web server can hosts a few hundred to even thousand of different websites at one time. You may wonder if a physical web server is shared by so many websites, will performance of web server deteriorate? In fact, web servers are usually equipped with high-end powerful computer, therefore it can support up to a certain number of websites without any problem. But when web server is overloaded and exceeded reasonable number of websites that it can support, then you will begin to experience a slower response from web server.
However, a reputable and experience web hosting provider will constantly monitor performance of web server and will add new web servers when deem necessary without sacrificing benefits of website owners. Since a physical web server is shared (diskspace, computer processing power, bandwidth, memory) by many websites, web hosting provider can therefore afford to offer a lower hosting price. For same reason, websites on shared hosting would have to accept slower server response time. Typically, shared hosting plans start at $5 - $20 per month.
b. Dedicated Hosting
In contrast to shared hosting, dedicated hosting assigned a specific web server to be used only by one customer. Since a dedicated web server is allocated to only a single customer, customer has option to host single/multiple web sites, modify software configuration, handle greater site traffic and scale bandwidth as necessary. Therefore, dedicated hosting commands a higher premium and typically starts at $50 per month and can range up to $200 - $500 per month. As a result, dedicated hosting is regularly used by high traffic and extremely important website.
c. Co-location hosting
In dedicated hosting, web server belongs to web hosting providers and customers only rent web server during hosting period. While in co-location hosting, customer owns web server hardware and only housed their web server within web hosting provider’s secure data center. In this way, customer has full control over their web server and simultaneously benefit from 24/7 server monitoring and maintenance provided by secure data center. Depending on monthly bandwidth and rack space required, typically co-location hosting range from $500 - $1000 per month.