Hosting

You may have come across this term when about to hire a web designer or web design company in Dubai. But what is web hosting, what does it do and why do you need it?

We get asked about hosting from our clients on a daily basis which is why our team have created a complete guide to help answer any questions and ensure that you choose the right hosting solution for your websites requirements.

illustration of web hosting servers
illustration of website hosting solutions

What is Web Hosting?

Web Hosting is the space provided by a company on a server for individuals and corporations to ‘host’ their web presence – websites, portals, e-commerce sites etc. and virtually any material or files.

Besides this, web hosting companies provide Internet connectivity so that other computers used by the public at large can access and view the files hosted on the server.

To explain this simply, it must be understood that a website is a collection of various other files and pieces of information such as text, videos, and HTML scripts etc. which are interlinked together to create web-pages.

These web-pages have to be placed on the Internet for sharing with others through a ‘super computer’ that has high speed Internet connectivity.  This super computer is usually referred to as a ‘web server’.

Hosting and Domain Names

For an individual or company to put up a website for the public to view, two main things have to be purchased:

      • Hosting account
      • Domain name

The usual practice is to purchase the two together from the same service provider; most service providers may offer the desired domain name for free if the individual or company signs up for a hosting service with them.

Every Internet website needs a unique identity (web address) that can be typed into a web browser by users to – eg. www.uploadinternational.com is a domain name.  It’s interesting to see how the whole setup works.  These are the steps that take place when a domain name is typed into a web browser.

Using the unique domain name, the browser searches for the associated IP (Internet Protocol) address
the user account (web address) on the server with the IP address is located
the browser finds the ‘index’ file
this index file and homepage of the website is displayed for the user
Hence every website requires a domain name, which is its unique identity on the Web.

illustration of registering a domain namer ready for hosting

Registering a domain name

Purchasing a domain name is like registering a company with the relevant authorities for carrying on business operations.  The first thing to do is to find a unique domain name which is not registered or being used by any other individual or company.

There are many sites to help with suggestions and finding out if the names shortlisted are already registered.  Once the domain name (the web address) is decided upon, it has to be purchased from a domain registrar or a hosting service provider who can help with the formalities.

Some hosting service providers offer technical and legal assistance with registering a domain name as part of a hosting account services package.

Domains can be transferred between registrars and hosts, if at a later date, an individual or a company wishes to migrate to another service provider or acquire dedicated hosting services depending upon business expansion plans and space utilisation.

Are Web Hosting and Data Centres the same?

Web Hosting refers to the server which hosts the websites of individuals or corporations; it can also mean the company that rents the server space for usage.

Data Centre refers to the physical facility, such as a large room or an entire building equipped with back-up power, communication services and security devices, where such servers are placed.  A Data Centre can hold many servers together at one time.

illustration of data centres

Types of Web Hosting

There are four different types of web hosting; while all of them act as storage centres for websites, the differences between them pertain to amount of storage space and capacity, technical knowledge requirement, operating control, reliability and server speed.  The four types are:

  • Shared
  • VPS (Virtual Private Server)
  • Dedicated
  • Cloud

Shared Hosting – as the name suggests, a shared server is ‘host’ to many websites or domains; the number can go up to a few thousands.
Since the domains share common server resources costs are shared between websites; this is usually the option for entry-level options because it can handle moderate website traffic levels run using standard software, and requires minimum technical knowledge.

The disadvantages of shared hosting are:

  • Limited ability or scope to handle high levels of web traffic
  • No root access
  • Low site output performance which results from other websites hosted on the same server

Virtual Private Server (VPS) – in this case, a server is divided into ‘virtual servers’ where a website is seemingly hosted on a dedicated server but is actually sharing server space.

This kind of hosting allows root access, a secured hosting environment and is good for hosting websites that do not want to invest upfront in a dedicated server environment.

However, a website hosted on a VPS can still be affected by the performance of other websites sharing the server.

Dedicated Hosting – a dedicated server provides exclusive space on a server for storing a website thereby offering maximum control and security.

But this type of hosting is very expensive and is suitable only when the requirement calls for excellent server performance and maximum control for the user.

illustration of dedicated hosting

cloud hosting what is it?

Cloud Hosting – a ‘cloud’ refers to a team of servers which work together to host a bunch of websites allowing for multiple computers to handle tasks like spikes in traffic etc.  Some cloud hosting services however come at a high cost and do not provide root access which is necessary to install software, change server settings and so on.

Some of the other common web hosting types are co-location web hosting, grid hosting, clustered hosting, home server etc.

What’s the difference between domain name and web hosting?

For new entrants to the Internet, the two can be a little confusing.  However, the simple difference between the two is this – a domain name is like the address to a location on the World Wide Web, which in this case, is a website relating to a person or mode of operation etc.   Web Hosting refers to the ‘virtual’ space on a large computer or server that holds the website, i.e. the set of files, videos, images and text etc. that form the content of the website.

Does hosting effect search results?

Search providers such as Google have confirmed in recent years that faster loading websites are a ranking factor in their search result pages.  One of the primary goals of search engines is to provide the best information to their customers fast.

Having a fast hosting provider can help load your website quicker and faster therefore improve the sites SEO (search engine optimization).

Where can I get web hosting?

As you will have read, there are many website hosting solutions available online. Prices can range from as little as $3.97 up to $497.

As a premium web design company in Dubai, we offer competitive hosting solutions or can help you find the best price within your budget.

Contact us today to speak to one of our web experts to help you.