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What is Web Hosting? - Beginner's Guide

What is Web Hosting? - Beginner's Guide

Web hosting is a comprehensive service providing tools to build, publish and manage a website and make it accessible to visitors worldwide.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what is web hosting, how it works, and the different types of web hosting services. You’ll also find answers to the common questions concerning web hosting and learn the most crucial pointers on picking the right web hosting service provider.

Why is Web Hosting important?

Before we go into detail about why you need web hosting, we should make one thing clear – every computer connected to the internet can host a website. That means that you are able to use your own personal device as a web server serving your website to visitors.

This fact raises the question of why you need a web hosting service in the first place. Although it sounds tempting to manage your website on your own, it comes with a whole lot of complications. Here are a few things to consider if you decide to host a website independently.

  • You’ll need specialized software for running a website called Web Server (e.g., Apache, NGINX), and it requires a thorough understanding of using it.
  • Using your own computer as a web server means that your computer must always be powered. You can’t just shut it down, as your website will also go down.
  • As with any other software, a website occasionally encounters technical problems. That means you must be on the clock 24/7, monitoring your web server. You’ll have to react quickly to any technical issue your server or website suffers.
  • Higher traffic requires more “horsepower” from your computer. If your website becomes trendy and generates a lot of visits, you must have quite a powerful setup able to process all the traffic. That means you’ll need to spend a small fortune on a computer able to handle the load. On top of that, your computer will frequently work at maximum power, which will inevitably result in increased power bills.
  • Websites use various services that require specific ports. Thus, you should ensure that your internet connection allows all necessary ports for your website to be fully functional. However, many ISP (Internet Service Providers) allow only a limited number of ports which can disturb your website’s functionality.

In a nutshell, independent web hosting is not a simple endeavor and requires a serious investment of your time and funds.

This is where web hosting service providers come in. Web hosting companies specialize in maintaining a stable infrastructure of super-powered computers (servers) optimized for serving websites. In addition to providing the hardware, they also have the technical expertise to meet the various challenges and hiccups of website hosting. You can focus on building your website content while your hosting provider handles all the technical aspects of keeping your site always online.

It’s important to note that apart from the actual product, web hosts keep a staff that provides technical support. These professionals will help you whenever you experience difficulties.

Uptime, speed, and security are benchmarks for the user experience and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking, which are critical for your website’s success. Therefore, choosing the most suitable web host ensures your website hits all marks.

In addition to providing a home for your website, a web host also offers a range of features and tools that can help you manage and make your online activities more efficient. Such features are:

  • Email accounts
  • Database management tools
  • Site builders
  • Auto-installers
  • SSL certificates

To sum it up, choosing the right web hosting service is crucial for your website’s performance, reliability, and scalability.

How Does Web Hosting Work?

Web hosting works by providing a space on a server for your website files and data to reside. A server is a computer dedicated to hosting that can serve your website worldwide. When someone types in your website’s URL or opens a link, their browser sends a request to the server where your website is hosted. The server processes the request and sends your website files back to the visitor’s browser. Then, the browser renders these files into the web page the visitor sees.

Graphic of How Web Hosting Works

Web hosting involves a complex network of servers and infrastructure that enables websites to be accessed from anywhere in the world. The server where your website is hosted is connected to the World Wide Web through a high-speed data center, providing reliable and secure access.

In addition to the hardware, most web hosting companies provide software services and tools to enhance your website performance. These include site builders, e-commerce solutions, email hosting, caching tools, etc.

Web hosting companies typically offer different types of web hosting plans to suit various needs and budgets. These include shared hosting, virtual private servers (VPS), dedicated servers, cloud hosting, etc. Each type has its own advantages and limitations, so it’s crucial to choose a hosting plan that best suits your requirements.

Types of Web Hosting Services

When you start looking at what the web hosts offer, you’ll find a wide selection of different hosting packages. Each type has its own pros and cons, and your choice depends on your technical knowledge, budget, and website’s purpose.

Below, we’ll examine the common types of hosting plans.

Shared Hosting

Shared Hosting Plans from SiteGround

Shared hosting is a type of web hosting where multiple websites share a single server and its server resources, such as CPU, RAM, and disk space. You don’t have to possess technical knowledge since shared hosting servers are pre-configured. This cost-effective option is most suitable for startups or small blogs where you have a limited budget and your website doesn’t demand considerable server resources.

SiteGround offers a diverse range of shared hosting plans so that you can choose the right plan for your needs. Here, you can find more about SiteGround’s Shared Hosting plans.


  • Lower price.
  • The server configuration is already set.
  • The hosting provider handles the server maintenance.


  • Your website performance depends on the traffic generated by all websites on your server.
  • Web hosts usually impose monthly bandwidth or traffic limits to ensure server stability.
  • Fewer options for server customization.

VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting

VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting is a type of web hosting where a single physical server is partitioned into multiple virtual servers. Each VPS is equipped with its own resources and operating system, granting greater control and flexibility than shared hosting. It’s a good choice for growing websites with higher traffic or resource-intensive applications.


  • A greater level of server customization.
  • Dedicated server resources.
  • Traffic from other websites doesn’t influence your website performance.
  • Root access to the server.


  • You must be technically proficient in maintaining the server configuration.

Cloud Hosting

SiteGround Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting consists of multiple inter-connected servers in a network, providing a flexible and stable hosting solution. It facilitates on-demand scalability, as resources can be added or removed on the fly.

Cloud hosting ensures better uptime and performance – you can add more when your website starts running low on resources. This type of hosting is suitable if you manage an online store or a larger business website that attracts a lot of traffic.

At SiteGround, you can select between pre-configured cloud servers or set your own custom configuration. We use LXC containers that allow for autoscaling, ensuring your website will never run out of resources. Take a look here at the wide range of SiteGround cloud hosting solutions.


  • Better uptime and performance stability.
  • Scalability – you can add or remove server resources on demand.
  • More flexible customization than shared hosting.


  • Cloud hosting is more expensive than shared or VPS hosting.
  • Less customizable than VPS.

Dedicated Server Hosting

Dedicated hosting is a type of hosting where a single website or hosting account uses an entire physical server. With dedicated hosting, your website has the highest level of control, performance, and security.

It’s a good choice for large-scale websites or applications generating high traffic and resource consumption. However, it is also the most expensive hosting option. Additionally, technical support is limited since you are responsible for the server configuration.


  • Dedicated hosting ensures higher performance and stability.
  • Complete control over the server configuration.
  • Root access is usually available.


  • Dedicated servers are expensive.
  • A dedicated server requires in-depth knowledge of server management.
  • Limited technical support from the hosting provider.

SiteGround does not offer Dedicated hosting plans at the moment.

Managed Hosting

In managed hosting, the web hosting company handles the entire server management, including maintenance, security, and software updates. It’s suitable for newbies or website owners who prefer to focus on the website content rather than the technical aspects.


  • Lower prices.
  • You don’t need to possess technical knowledge.
  • Pre-configured server setup.
  • Your website is regularly updated and patched up.
  • You can use auto-installers for various content management systems (CMS).


  • You have limited access to the server configuration.
  • Customization is limited.

WordPress Hosting

WordPress Hosting from SiteGround

WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS), and many hosting providers strive to accommodate its large user base. WordPress hosting is specifically designed for WordPress websites.

It often includes pre-installed WordPress software, automatic updates, WordPress-management tools, and specific support for WordPress-related tasks and issues.


  • Tools for easier WordPress management.
  • Cost-effective.
  • WordPress-dedicated technical support.


  • Limited or no options for managing other software types.

SiteGround is one of the top-recommended WordPress hostings. We are firm WordPress supporters and contributors, and our hosting includes various tools that make WordPress management easier. Here you can find more information about SiteGround WordPress Hosting.

Site Builder (Proprietary Hosting)

Site builder hosting (proprietary hosting) is a service where your web host provides an online drag-and-drop builder to create your website. It provides an intuitive and user-friendly interface that anyone can use to quickly build a functional website regardless of their technical prowess.

Although site builders are easy to use, there is one drawback – such platforms are standalone and incompatible with other web hostings. This makes transferring your website to other hosting companies virtually impossible should you decide to move away.


  • Easy to use.
  • You can quickly build a functional website.
  • It doesn’t require technical knowledge.


  • Site builders are not compatible with other hosting platforms. That makes transferring your website elsewhere virtually impossible.
  • Site builders have basic features, and customization is limited.
  • Extra features require additional payment.

What to Look for in a Web Hosting Service Provider

When choosing a web hosting service, it’s important to consider several factors for selecting the best provider. Naturally, the price is one of the most critical factors, as you want to get the most bang for your buck. Therefore, you must plan your budget and decide what extra features your website needs. Some hosting providers include additional features in their standard prices, while others charge for them separately.

Here are the most important pointers to look for when choosing your web hosting company.

Uptime Guarantee

It wouldn’t matter how good your site is unless visitors can access it anytime. That is why you should look for web hosting that commits to a high uptime guarantee, typically 99.9% or higher.

Uptime is the yearly amount of time your website is accessible online. High uptime ensures that your website is always available to visitors, which is crucial for your site’s success.

At SiteGround, we use a sophisticated infrastructure with various mechanisms such as load balancing, custom firewall, and DDoS protection that keeps our servers up and running with an average uptime of 99.99%.

User Reviews

Customer feedback is one of the most effective ways to tell whether a web hosting offers good service. Reading user reviews, you can find honеst opinions of a web hosting provider’s speed, reliability, and customer service.

There are plenty of user review websites where you can find out what current customers of a web hosting company think. This information will give you a clear idea of what to expect.

Storage Space

Storage space is the amount of disk space reserved on a web server for storing your website files, database, and content. You should look for a web host that provides ample disk space to store your website and has some spare space for new content.

It’s also essential to have the ability to upgrade your web hosting account easily if your website outgrows your current plan.


Website speed is critical for user experience and search engine optimization (SEO). Speed has become a deciding factor in how your page ranks on Google since the introduction of Core Web Vitals. On the other hand, users tend to leave pages that don’t load in less than 2 seconds.

That is why you should choose a web hosting that provides fast and stable loading times and TTFB (Time-To-First-Byte). Look for a web host providing speed optimization features like server caching and content delivery network (CDN).

All SiteGround plans include speed improvement features like caching, CDN, Brotli compression, and many more. For more information, read this Speed Tips Tutorial.

SiteGround Hosting uses various speed improvement mechanisms

24/7 Support

No website is immune to technical issues, and they can happen anytime. Your host should be able to respond timely in case of emergency. Choose a provider that offers 24/7 support on multiple support channels, such as live chat, phone support, and email.

SiteGround maintains a customer support staff of experts proficient in numerous website-related inquiries. Our customer support is one of the top-rated in the business and offers instant help 24/7. Here you can read more about SiteGround Customer Support.

24/7 Support with all SiteGround Hosting plans

Intuitive Control Panel

An intuitive control panel makes it easy to manage your website and hosting account, even if you don’t have technical expertise. It lets you efficiently use all services and features of your hosting plan. A web hosting provider should offer a user-friendly control panel with features like one-click installs, file manager, FTP accounts, email management, caching options, etc.

SiteGround has developed custom-built Site Tools for easy website management. Its user-friendly and intuitive interface allows users to control their hosting accounts efficiently regardless of their technical knowledge.

Site Tools is an intuitive control panel for managing your SiteGround Web Hosting


Website security is critical for protecting your website from online threats such as hacking, malware, and cyber-attacks. A web hosting provider must have robust security features such as SSL certificates, firewalls, and regular backups.

SiteGround places a strong emphasis on security and implements various mechanisms for keeping your website intact. Here you can learn how SiteGround protects your website.

Security comes first at SiteGround Web Hosting


As your website grows, it’s essential to have the ability to scale up your hosting resources if needed. A good web hosting provider should offer flexible and scalable hosting plans that can be upgraded or downgraded quickly.

Additional Services

Apart from basic website hosting, many providers offer additional services such as email, domain hosting, SSL certificates, dedicated IP addresses, etc. Some include such features in their standard plans, while others require additional payments.

Examine what your online business requires and what different web hosts offer in their hosting packages. Although the price of one host may be higher than others, the included features may compensate for the price difference.

Domain Registration

To host your web files, you need a web hosting server. However, in order to make your web pages easily accessible to visitors, you also need a domain name.

If you haven’t already registered a domain name, look for a hosting provider that offers domain registration and management services. Managing all website-related services in one place is practical and will save you a lot of maintenance overhead.

SiteGround offers domain registration and management services for all clients. Take a look at the wide range of domain names you can choose for your website.

SiteGround offers extra services like domain registration

What’s the Difference Between Web Hosting and a Domain Name

Web hosting and a domain name are both essential components of running your website. However, they serve different purposes.

A domain name is the web address of your website. It’s a unique identifier that allows internet users to find and visit your website. The domain name doesn’t contain your website data. It holds only administrative information about your website address and owner details. For example, google.com is a domain name.

On the other hand, web hosting provides the space on physical web servers where your web files and data reside. Essentially, by purchasing a web hosting service, you rent space on a web server that makes your website accessible online.

To make a simple analogy, a domain name is your house address, while web hosting is the physical building. You need a domain name for others to find your website and web hosting to house your website.

While some web hosting providers offer domain registration as part of their services, you can also purchase a domain name separately from a domain registrar. Note that having just a domain name doesn’t render your website accessible on the internet. The domain must connect to a web hosting server that stores your website files.

Frequently Asked Question

As you begin to understand web hosting better, additional questions may start to pop up. This section will address some common questions users frequently ask when choosing a web hosting provider.

How much does web hosting cost?

The cost of web hosting is not a fixed number and can vary widely. It depends on the hosting type, extra features, technology, and quality of service. Shared hosting plans are typically the most affordable option, starting at just a few dollars per month. On the other hand, VPS and dedicated server hosting plans are usually more expensive but offer more resources, better performance, and can be customized further.

To recap, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred dollars per month. Thus, you must evaluate the scale of your website and what resources it requires before choosing your hosting plan. Also, note that many web hosts offer promotional prices or discounts for new accounts.

Free vs Paid Web Hosting

Free hosting solutions exist, but typically come with many shortcomings and drawbacks. They may suit personal websites or small projects with low traffic. However, you may find them lacking in features and resources if you run a larger and more complex website.

Free web hostings usually have limited storage space and bandwidth, which can result in slow loading times and downtime if your website traffic surges. Additionally, they may restrict your content or the display ads on your website that visitors generally dislike.

Paid web hosting services, on the other hand, offer greater control, flexibility, and resources. With a paid hosting plan, you can expect higher storage and bandwidth limits, faster loading speeds, and more features for your website. Furthermore, paid hosting plans usually include technical support and security measures to protect your website from hacks and other threats.

Ultimately, the choice between free and paid web hosting depends on your website’s scale and purpose. A free web hosting service may suffice if you run a small, personal website and don’t require many extra features. However, if you have a large business website demanding more resources, investing in a paid web hosting plan is generally recommended.

How important is web hosting for my website’s search engine optimization (SEO)?

Web hosting influences your website’s search engine optimization (SEO), but is not the deciding factor. The content and structure of your website are the most critical elements for your SEO ranking.

That being said, search engines still take into account your website’s speed, uptime, and security. And these metrics depend on your web hosting provider.
For example, Google prioritizes websites that load quickly and have high uptime since they provide a better user experience. Furthermore, encrypted websites with SSL certificates (usually provided by your hosting provider) are typically placed ahead in the SEO rankings.

Therefore, choosing a reliable and secure web hosting provider with fast loading speeds and high uptime will ensure your website is accessible to visitors and performs well in search engine rankings.

However, SEO is a complex process that goes beyond web hosting. You must implement a holistic approach to optimizing your website for search engines.


Web hosting is a fundamental part of running a website. It provides the necessary server space, resources, and tools to make your website accessible online.

When choosing a web hosting service, it’s important to balance the cost with its quality and services. You should also assess whether your website will benefit from the extra features included in a hosting plan.

Choosing the right web hosting provider is crucial for the success of any type of website. By understanding the basics of web hosting and taking the time to research and compare different options, you can find a web hosting plan that will boost your website performance and online presence.

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