These sites "live" on computers similar to yours. The only difference being they are hooked up to the Internet at all times. These web host computers have lots of disk space which they "rent" out to the "tenants" i.e websites. These computers therefore play a "Host" to the websites and let your website "live" there for as long as the website owner wants - but for rent. This service of being a "Host" for other people's websites is called "Web Hosting" and the computers that "host" people's websites for them are called a server.
So the next time you type in a URL in your browser and hit "go", a request is sent all the way to the respective server hosting the website. (Every website has an IP address which helps a browser know exactly where the site is located and on which server it is being hosted at) If the requested webpage is successfully located, it loads on to your computer and that's how you see it.
Types of Hosting
Most of the time it is simple web pages and images which are uploaded to the a web hosts servers. Personal websites may need just a single page hosting while a business website my need more facilities like allowing customers to pay via credit card with adequate security and so on, which makes the process complex and can increase the cost of a web hosting service.
Below are a few of the general types of web hosting available:
- Free hosting
- Dedicated, or
- Collocated Hosting
Free Hosting: This type of hosting is best suited for sites that aren't made to make money or do any business. These can be a family photography site, or hobby site that has very low amounts of traffic (website visitors). Free hosting has one benefit in that it is free, but it is not professional and is geared toward low security, with very limited or no software options available. Furthermore, you typically cannot use your own domain name with these sites and the URL will carry the site name of the host and will be cumbersome to type or remember. Lastly, this type of hosting will often carry advertisements from the provider, which cannot be removed.
Shared Hosting: In this type of hosting hundreds of sites are hosted on the same server. Here you can use your own domain name while keeping it light on your wallet. This type of hosting is good for small business sites experiencing low traffic. Most often shared hosting is the best option for a site just starting out or gets a few thousand page views a day.
Dedicated Hosting: This type of hosting is preferred by big businesses with lots of traffic. It allows for multiple domain name usage and is the most expensive. The site owner has the ability to add what ever special software or databases that they want, and has dedicated technical support as well. When a site starts get tens of thousands of page views a day, a site owner would seriously want to consider moving a site to a dedicated host.
Collocated Hosting: This type of hosting lets you physically place your own server in the premises of a service provider for enhanced security, technical back up, high speed internet connection, high uptime and more.
When deciding between which type of hosting to go with, it is wise to make a thorough assessment of your needs and the cost you can bear before opting for the host that best meets your needs.