What is web hosting? Essentially, web hosting is a service that allows your web pages to be available on the Internet for everyone else to see. Wikipedia describes it this way: "A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to provide their own website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server they own for use by their clients as well as providing Internet connectivity, typically in a data center. Web hosts can also provide data center space and connectivity to the Internet for servers they do not own to be located in their data center, called colocation."
At its simplest, web hosting is just putting web sites on the Internet. Anyone with a web server (i.e. a computer) and an Internet connection can be a web host (a server that sends web pages to browsers). That means that you could host your own web pages on your own computer instead of paying a web host to do it. However, there are several problems with doing this:
So a web host can be easily worth the monthly cost as long as they do their job well. When choosing a web host, you need to find one that has all the features you needs, has a good rating, and is in your price range.
Web hosting comes in all different shapes and sizes. There is free web hosting, shared web hosting, reseller web hosting, virtual private server hosting, dedicated hosting, clustered hosting, and co-location hosting. Though there are many different types, most small websites work great on cheap, shared hosting. You can get web hosting on a Windows server or a Linux server. Hosting can come with lots of bandwidth or disk space or just a little. You can get hosting with various programming languages such as PHP, ASP, .NET, Perl, or Ruby on Rails. Different databases may be supported such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, or MS SQL. You can get hosting that comes with free scripts or content management systems. One of the biggest factors in deciding on a web host is how good their support is so be sure to check out our Web Host Reviews.
Recap: If you want your web site to be available to others on the Internet, you need web hosting. A web host will provide you with a computer that you can upload your web site to. There are many different kinds of web hosting so be sure to understand the different options before buying web hosting. Learn about the basic web hosting options.