What is web hosting and why do you need it?

web hosting
(Image credit: Shutterstock / imaginajib)

Web hosting is a service that provides organizations and individuals with a platform to store files that make up a website and to make them accessible online. 

With web hosting you rent space on a server to store your website data, such as HTML and CSS files, media content, and other documents so that your website can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection.

Web hosting is typically provided by web hosts, which are businesses that maintain, configure, and run physical servers that house websites. You could, if you wanted to, host a website at home but it would be a bad idea. Not only would your PC need to be on all the time and not likely have enough power if your site got popular but you'd also be inviting the entire world-wide-web into your home.

While web hosting might seem like a difficult topic to tackle, this article will help you better grasp its concepts and intricacies.

We’ll start by taking a closer look at how web hosting works. Then, we’ll overview some common types of web hosting and a few aspects to look for in a web hosting service. 

How does web hosting work?

To make a website accessible to everyone, it must be stored on a server that is connected to the internet. When someone wants to view your website, they will type your URL into their browser and their computer will then connect to your server. Once this happens, the server will send them the files that make up your website.

To set up a website, you will need to choose a web host and purchase a plan. This will give you access to a server where you can store your website files. When your files are uploaded, anyone will be able to view your site by typing in your URL.

Why is web hosting important? 

Web hosting allows you to put your website online. Without it, you would have to find a way to host your website on your own, which would be difficult and expensive.

Additionally, web hosting provides you with a place to store your website's files. When you create a website, you need somewhere to store the individual files and images that make up your website. These files are stored on a web server, which is provided by a web hosting company.

Web hosting services give you access to certain tools and services that can make creating and managing your website easier. For example, many web hosting companies offer website builder services, which allow you to create a website without any programming or design experience. 

Some web hosting companies also offer tools that can help you manage your websites, such as email services and databases.

Types of web hosting services 

There are various types of web hosting services: shared, virtual private server (VPS), dedicated, and cloud. Each type of hosting service offers different features and benefits that can be beneficial for your website. There are even services optimized for particular applications like the best WordPress hosting providers and the best Minecraft server hosting providers.

Shared hosting is the most popular type of web hosting service. With shared hosting, your website shares a server with other websites. This means that you will be sharing resources such as bandwidth and storage space. 

A virtual private server (VPS) is a type of web hosting service that allows you to have your server. With a VPS, you will be allotted a certain amount of resources, such as bandwidth and storage space. A VPS is a great option for businesses or websites that require more resources than what is offered with shared hosting.

Dedicated server hosting is a type of web hosting service where you have your own server. With dedicated hosting, you will not be sharing your server with other websites. This gives you will have more control over your server and the resources that are available to you. Dedicated hosting is a great option for businesses or websites that require a lot of resources.

Cloud hosting is a hosting service that allows you to have your website hosted on multiple servers. With cloud hosting, your website will be able to scale up or down as needed.

This means that you can have the resources that you need when you need them. Cloud hosting is a great option for businesses or websites that have fluctuating resource needs.

What is domain hosting?

Domain hosting is a service that hosts and manages domain names. It’s provided by domain hosts, also known as domain name registrars.  

A domain name itself is the address of your website. Users type a website’s domain name in the address bar of their web browser to visit that site. 

A domain host uses domain name system (DNS) records to connect your domain with your site’s internet protocol (IP) address – a unique address assigned to a physical server, which usually looks like this:

IP addresses help computers identify each other online, but it’s challenging for humans to remember and use these numbers to access a website. Thanks to DNS, people can load a site on their browser without knowing its associated IP address. 

Aside from acting as a website address, a domain name can also be a tool to support a site’s branding – it’s the first element that people see when visiting a website. Thus, it’s crucial to spend some time picking a domain name that suits your project or business.

Here are a few tips for choosing the right domain name for a website:

  • Pick a short name that is easy to remember
  • Ensure a domain is easy to spell and pronounce
  • Stick with a popular top-level domain (TLD) like .com
  • Refrain from using numbers and hyphens
  • Utilize domain name generators to get more domain name ideas

It’s also possible to buy a domain name from web hosts that also offer domain registration services, such as Hostinger, Bluehost, and GoDaddy. You can look up already existing domains using search tools provided by ICANN or WHOIS.

Purchasing a domain name from your web hosting company lets you manage both services under one account. Thus, there is no need to worry about changing the nameserver settings for your domain.

Why is web hosting important?

Web hosting companies are responsible for maintaining and keeping their servers running 24/7, ensuring great performance for the websites they host. For online business owners, having a site with outstanding uptime can help maximize sales and improve user experience.

Additionally, using a web hosting service can improve a site’s search engine optimization (SEO). The web host you choose can affect your site speed, one of the critical factors when search engines like Google rank web pages. 

Purchasing a web hosting plan is also more efficient than having an in-house dedicated server – website owners won’t need to spend time maintaining physical hardware or spend money to hire a developer.

Many web hosting providers also offer an intuitive control panel. This tool lets website owners easily control their site and hosting service, manage domain names, install applications, and upload website files.

What to look for in a web hosting service

When you're ready to take your business or personal website to the next level, you'll need to find a web hosting service that can give you the tools, space, and support you need. But with so many options available, how do you know which one is right for you?

Here are some things to look for in a web hosting service:

- Reliability: This is the most important thing to look for in a web hosting service. Your website needs to be up and running at all times for your business to run. Uptime is usually expressed as a percentage, such as 99.9% uptime.

- Speed: Speed is also important for a website. If your site takes too long to load, visitors will likely give up and go elsewhere. Look for a web hosting service that can provide you with fast speeds.

- Customer support: When something goes wrong with your website, you'll need customer support to help you fix the problem. Look for a web hosting service that offers 24/7 customer support so that you can always get help when you need it.

- Pricing: Of course, you'll also need to consider pricing when choosing a web hosting service. Look for a service that offers a good value for the price.

- Security: Make sure that the web hosting service you choose offers security features such as malware scanning and DDoS protection. This will help keep your website safe from attacks.

- Scalability: As your website grows, you'll need a web hosting service that can scale with you. Look for a service that offers upgrades so that you can add more resources as needed.

While these are some of the things to look for in a web hosting service, be sure to do your research before choosing a provider so that you can find one that meets your needs.

GCP Ping

(Image credit: GCP Ping)

Also, look for hosting service providers with data center locations close to your visitors since it will help make your web pages load faster for them. Check out tools such as GCP Ping to measure how distance impacts loading speed.

Free vs paid web hosting 

As a business owner, you have a lot of choices to make when it comes to hosting your website. One of the most important decisions is whether to choose free or paid web hosting.

There are pros and cons to both paid and free web hosting, so it's important to weigh your options before making a decision.

Here are some things to consider when choosing between free and paid web hosting:


The biggest advantage of free web hosting is that it's, well, free. If you're on a tight budget, free web hosting can be a great option.

Paid web hosting, on the other hand, costs around $5-10 per month. While this may not seem like much, it can add up over time.


When you choose free web hosting, you're usually limited in terms of features and customization. Paid web hosting, on the other hand, offers a lot more features and options.

For example, with paid web hosting, you'll usually get more storage space, bandwidth, email accounts, and support. You'll also have more control over things like your domain name and website design.


Reliability is another important factor to consider when choosing between free and paid web hosting. Free web hosts are often less reliable than paid hosts because they're often overcrowded and don't have the resources to keep things running.

Paid web hosts, on the other hand, are much more reliable. This is because they're not overcrowded and have the resources to keep things running.


Security is another important factor to consider when choosing between free and paid web hosting. Free web hosts often don't have the same level of security as paid hosts because they can't afford to invest in it.

Paid web hosts, on the other hand, usually have better security because they can afford to invest in it. This means that your website will be less likely to be hacked or attacked.


When you choose free web hosting, you're usually on your own when it comes to supporting. This can be a problem if you're not very tech-savvy or if you run into problems with your website.

Paid web hosts, on the other hand, usually offer 24/7 support. This means that someone will always be available to help you if you have any problems with your website.

So, which is better for your business? Free or paid web hosting?

The answer depends on your specific needs and requirements. If you need a lot of features and customization options, then paid web hosting is a better option for you. However, if you're on a tight budget, free web hosting can be a good option.

Frequently asked questions about web hosting

After getting to know several important aspects of web hosting services, let’s look at some commonly asked questions about website hosting.

Do I really need web hosting?

You need web hosting to store your web files and make your website available on the internet. In addition to that, purchasing a dedicated server is expensive and impractical. 

Hosting your website on the web host’s servers lets you focus on more important matters, like producing great content and driving traffic to your website.

How much does web hosting cost?

The prices of web hosting services depend on the provider and the type of hosting you choose. 

For instance, if you plan to create a blog, then a shared hosting plan should suffice. The average price of shared hosting plans ranges from $2 to $7/month.

Which web hosting is best?

The best web hosting for you relies on your budget, skill set, and the type of website you aim to build. For example, a large online store with thousands of visitors per month has different hosting needs than a portfolio website with less than a hundred visits.

Let’s see which web hosting is the best for you to get started with:

Web hosting is a must for any website

Anyone who wants to build a website needs web hosting to store their website's files and make them accessible for visitors worldwide. 

There are different types of hosting to choose from, and the right option for your project relies on your budget and preferences.

Here’s a quick recap of the three common types of web hosting:

  • Shared hosting – it’s easy to manage and has cost-effective plans, making it an excellent choice for beginner and personal websites.
  • VPS hosting – offers dedicated resources for each user. It’s an excellent option for small to medium-sized businesses that have outgrown the resources of a shared hosting plan.
  • Cloud hosting – it’s suitable for fast-growing business websites that expect consistent performance.

Since there are so many web hosting service providers out there, make sure to look for a hosting company that comes with fast servers, an uptime guarantee, security tools, a variety of add-ons, 24/7 support, and reasonable prices.

We hope this article has helped you better your understanding of what web hosting is and why you need it. 

Secure your web host

Web hosting is a service that provides you with the technologies and services needed to get your website online. Once your website is online, people can access it from anywhere in the world. Web hosting companies provide you with a domain name, website builder, email, and other essential tools and services to get your site up and running.

Ruby has been a freelance technology writer for over four years and has a passion for information technology and the Internet in its entirety. She has a wide range of specialities including web hosting, streaming (Firestick, Kodi, and APKs), VPN, information technology, and affiliate marketing. Ruby is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Commerce from the University of the Philippines, and regularly codes in her free time.