How does Website Hosting Work?
Website hosting is a vital aspect of the internet and online world. Without website hosting, we would not be able to access our favorite websites such as YouTube and Facebook. One little-known fact concerning web hosting is how it actually works. What is involved in the hosting process? What components are required to
The three phases of Web Hosting
Phase 1 – Domain Names
A domain name is essential for web hosting. A domain name is your website address i.e. http://www.google.com. Domain names are registered and controlled through ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and you must usually purchase a domain name so that users have an address they can attempt to connect too. A domain name essentially acts like a postcode/zip code and will direct a user to the web hosting server.
Phase 2 – DNS or Nameservers
Now that we have a domain name (or our address), how does a user’s web browser know where this address points too? Without a DNS it doesn’t. DNS effectively says that X domain name points to Y location. For example, http://www.google.com may point to the IP address 18.104.22.168 (this isn’t a real IP address so don’t try it!) – this IP address is the server where your web pages will be stored. So when you type in http://www.google.co.uk into your web browser, the DNS server will be accessed and will tell your browser that the files are stored at the previously mentioned IP address.
Phase 3 – Hosting
So we have a domain name, and we have a DNS listing configured – all that’s left now is the actual hosting and server itself. The hosting takes place on an actual physical server or a virtual server. Hosting is basically storage for your website files such as HTML pages, CSS stylesheets, images and other media. That server must be connected to the internet and linked to the DNS listing too. You will use an FTP service (File Transfer Protocol) to upload your website files to the server. The chain is thus complete.
The whole process of web hosting is as follows – a user types in a domain name, that domain name is linked to a web server using a DNS or Nameserver, the relevant files are then retrieved from the web server and displayed on the user’s web browser.
What types of website hosting are there?
Now that you understand how hosting works, we can take a brief look at what types of hosting are available. The following are the main types of website hosting currently available:
Shared – Shared hosting is as you would expect – you effectively purchase space on a shared web server. That one server could have a hundred other users too. This type of hosting is the cheapest available but the speed and storage are also limited too. Shared hosting is also often used for WordPress hosting.
VPS / Cloud –VPS and Cloud hosting involve using virtual servers or a group of virtual servers. VPS hosting is still a form of shared hosting, but each user has their own dedicated virtual server. They have their own allocated resources and bandwidth. This type of hosting is more expensive but the quality is higher too.
Dedicated – Enterprise level businesses may purchase a whole server – this is known as dedicated hosting. You are not sharing a server with anyone else, and you can essentially tailor it as you wish. This is the most expensive type of hosting.
We hope you have found this article useful. As you can see, website hosting is a straightforward process. Just remember that the important components are domain names, DNS, and the hosting/service itself.