What is Web Hosting? Explained in 5-min.

What is Web Hosting?

I often see confusion around the concept of web hosting. What is web hosting? Do you need it for a Square space or Wix site? If you buy a domain, does that mean you already have web hosting?

Today, I’m taking a step back to answer these questions and more, so stay tuned to the article.

Alright, so in a nutshell, web hosting is a box where your website files are stored. Think about a Word document on your computer. When you need to access it, you go to the folder, double-click the file and your word processor reads the file from your hard drive and displays it.

A website is simply: a bundle of files that a web browser reads and displays to the user, the person visiting the website. So, what is web hosting? Web hosting is simply a folder on a server or a”souped-up” computer that stores your website files. When a user types your domain.com, the browser is pointed to the web server, downloads the files to the local device, and displays the website as normal. And that’s all the internet is; a giant network of servers that send and receive files back and forth all day, every day to create this connected experience, where users can all see the same websites, share the same files and access data from any device.

What is Web Hosting
Database System

So, now that we have a basic understanding of web hosting, when do you actually need it? Is it required to have a website? Well, the correct answer is yes, web hosting of some kind is required for a website to work. But the answer to if you need it, maybe no, depending on the website platform you choose. If you’re going with a conventional website builder, think Square space, Wix, Weebly, any website builder that advertises paying $10 a month to connect a custom domain name, these website platforms are hosting this site for you.

So, while your site has web hosting, the website platform, which would be Squarespace or Wix or whatever you’re using, handles this for you, rolling it into the plan and cost. This means that all you need is a domain name, and a Square space or Wix plan, and you’re good to go. You don’t need to buy your own web hosting. But, remember that your website is still being hosted on a server by Squarespace or Wix, they’re just handling that for you in the background.

Well, what if you want to use a different platform like wordpress.org? Well, WordPress is a free and open-source platform. And because of this, it’s up to you to purchase your own web hosting account and install WordPress on the server.

Now, this might sound like a big scary task but, any decent host makes it easy. Hosts like hostinger, DreamHost, and kinsta make it so you just click a few buttons to create a brand new WordPress website. And, as long as you make sure your hosting account is renewed, you’ll be able to use WordPress as normal. And if you haven’t already figured it out; no! Just because you have a domain name does not mean you have web hosting.

A domain name is strictly a license to use the URL of your choices such as ChristianTaylor.co or yourdomain.com. This does not give you web hosting and, you need to purchase that separately or use a hosted Website Builder. I think the reason there’s so much confusion around this topic is because most any domain registrar; these are sites like GoDaddy, Namecheap or Dynadot also offer web hosting, or hosted website builders. And they make it easy to add as an upsell while purchasing your domain.

Cloud Web Hosting
Cloud Web Hosting

Think like the GoDaddy Website Builder or Namecheap web hosting, you just click a button when you check out and boom, you’ve added it. And I think there are a lot of people who buy web hosting when they buy their domain without even realizing it. And they don’t realize it’s two separate things.

They just think, “Oh, I paid for my domain name and my website keeps running.” So you might be asking yourself, Are there pros to choosing a hosted Website Builderover getting your own web hosting? And the answer is: absolutely! But, there are also cons. The upside of choosing a platform like Squarespace or Shopify is that: you don’t have to purchase web hosting separately, you don’t have to worry about installing anything to the server and, you get access to that proprietary platform.

A lot of people love Squarespace for its simplicity, and many businesses, including big ones, likering.com, swear by Shopify for E-commerce. But, there are some cons to choosing a hosted website platform. The biggest con is you don’t have control over the quality of your web hosting. These companies sell it as being a benefit, saying they’ll handle your site if you get a huge surge in traffic and you don’t have to worry about it. But what happens if you get a really big surge in traffic?

Think about the situation when Jeffree Star launched his cosmetics line recently and the website crashed because it got such a surge in traffic. That was actually a Shopify website. And in this case, he would just call up Shopify and say, ” Hey, there was a giant surge to my website, can you please fix the problem?” and Shopify will and did take care of the issue. However, if you had self-hosted that website, you would be in control.

You could go to your web host like Amazon WebServices, or whoever you pick, and just scale up the server with one click, and you have the remote control to the power of your web hosting. But with that being said, I wouldn’t base the decision of which website platform you use, solely on whether it’s a hosted platform or requires you to buy your own hosting. I would focus more on the whole package and finding a platform that’s right for you and fits your needs, functionality-wise.

If you want a drag and drop website builder and you just need a simple website, you’ll likely love Squarespace or Wix. If you’re more about customizability and you like to tinker around and make your website do exactly what you want it todo, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy a WordPress or other-self-hosted platforms most.

So, hopefully, this article helps you get a clear understanding of what web hosting is, how it’s used, and whether you need to purchase it. So, which websites solution did you use? Did you go with the hosted Website Builder? Or did you choose to get your own web hosting? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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