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What does a web host do?

A web host stores websites, then provides a fast internet connection for other computers to connect to them. Hosting is the general term for when a third party supplier stores your data or applications on one of their computers, not yours. The servers are owned by the web hosting company and housed on their premises.

What types of web hosting are available?

There are four main types: Shared (including Virtual Private Server (VPS) and Cloud Hosting) and Dedicated. Each offers a different storage capacity, degree of technical control, server speed, levels of reliability and bandwidth.

What is a shared hosting?

With shared hosting, your website is placed on the same server as many other sites, ranging from a few to hundreds or even thousands. Typically, all domains may share a common pool of server resources, such as RAM and the CPU. As cost is extremely low, most websites with moderate traffic levels running standard software are hosted on this type of server. Shared hosting is also widely accepted as the entry level hosting option, as it requires minimum technical knowledge.

How is dedicated hosting different?

With dedicated hosting you are paying for exclusive use of a server rather than having to share it with the web hosts’ other customers. That means you don’t have to worry about how another website sharing the server may affect it, and you also have much greater technical control. However, because you aren’t sharing costs with anyone else, it is a more expensive option.

When do you need dedicated hosting?

If you have website that is going to generate a considerable amount of traffic, then dedicated hosting is a sensible option.

Is a data center the same as a web host?

No. A data center is the actual facility where the web host’s servers are housed. This could be anything from a single room to a large purpose-built building, complete with backup power supply, air conditioning and security systems.

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A Glossary of Hosting Terms

Bandwidth – the amount of information that can be downloaded from your site each month. As data is downloaded whenever anyone looks at your site, the more traffic there is going to it, the more bandwidth you need.

Data transfer – the process of copying or moving data from one computer to another. Also known as data transmission.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) – a standard network protocol used to transfer files from one computer to another over the internet.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting – a physical server is split into a number of virtual servers, so you have a bit that’s solely yours. You get greater control, but your site could still be affected by other sites on the server.

Shared hosting – your website shares the same server with many other sites. It’s a low-cost hosting option, but it can’t handle high volumes of traffic and your site’s performance may be affected by other sites stored on that server.

Cloud hosting – multiple computers (a cloud) working together to handle high traffic levels or spikes for any particular website.

Uptime guarantee – the percentage of time that a web host guarantees you will be able to use their hosting service. Anything less than 99.9% is unacceptable.

Collocated hosting – a server you own that is housed at a web host’s facilities, so you are fully responsible for the server and anything installed on it.

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