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Why do I need Website Hosting?

Posted 27-10-17

If you require a website to be deployed to the masses you will require some form of website hosting. In order for the pages of the website to be available they first need to be uploaded to a web server ready for download.

'Website hosting' refers to your contract with a hosting provider who's 'web server' accommodates the pages of your website. A web server is a computer that stores, processes and delivers websites; to other computers connected to the internet. Requests are processed using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), the basic network protocol used to distribute information on the World Wide Web.

There are numerous options available for website hosting from free 'branded' hosting; to the upper-crust of a dedicated server. In the mid-range you have shared hosting, Virtual Private Servers (VPS) and Cloud hosting.

Free Hosting
Usually branded in some way so no matter what website you upload the hosting company logo remains visible in one of the corners of the screen. In its free form such hosting is only suitable for educational or experimental purposes. Download and upload speeds are generally quite slow unless you pay for a subscription and upgrade your web space to a 'paid service'.

Shared Hosting
A group of websites share the resources of one server including: operating system, software, hardware (Hard-disk, RAM, CPU) and administration duties. With server running costs split between multiple domains shared hosting is an affordable solution. But overall performance of the server is also shared meaning slightly slower download and upload speeds, compared to a 'Dedicated server' (see below). There could also be usage limits for disk space, database size and traffic allowance on your website. The 'Shared hosting' software is installed and maintained by the hosting company. Therefore it may not be suitable for advanced web development requiring a custom set-up.

Cloud Hosting
Hosting platform consisting of a cluster of servers known as the 'Cloud'. Cloud hosted websites use the combined 'virtual resources' of all interconnected servers for software and hardware. There are several advantages to this set-up. Capacity can be scaled-up or down quickly on demand. For larger sites this could result in cost savings as the client only needs to pay for what they use; scaling-up and down accordingly. If there was a technical issue with any piece of the Cloud's hardware, other units could still continue running; meaning no downtime.

Virtual Private Server (VPS)
A partitioned web server not unlike shared hosting. The key difference is each 'Virtual Machine' is installed independently from one another. This allows each VPS to run their own choice of software and operating system making it more suitable for any advanced website. VPS can also re-boot independently and being partitioned benefits from increased security.

Dedicated Server
The creme-de-la-creme of website hosting. Business owners lease an entire server for the exclusive use of their website. All the server's hardware and software are at that one site's disposal meaning lightning fast load times. Server components (including Hard-disk, RAM and CPU) can be hand-picked and configured to optimise performance. Software including Operating System, DNS (domain name management), mail server and virus protection can be fully customised to suit the one website. As there is no interference from other sites the Dedicated server offers the highest level of reliability, performance and security.

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