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What Does Hosting Mean?

Hosting, in its most generic sense, is a service through which storage and computing resources are providing to an individual or organization for the accommodation and maintenance of one or more websites and related services. While hosting doesn’t need to be IP-based, the vast majority of instances are web-based services that allow a website or web service to be globally accessible from the Internet.


Hosting is also known as Web hosting or website hosting.

How Does Web Hosting Work?

As a highly critical service, hosting has facilitated the development and growth of the Internet. Hosting is primarily provided by a hosting service provider that builds a specialized backend computing infrastructure. In turn, the website owner/developer utilizes the infrastructure to host its website via uploaded source code, where each website is distinguishable by its unique domain name and logically allocated Web space and storage. After the domain name is specified in a Web browser, a website is accessed by the Internet.

With the evolution of technology and delivery models, hosting has evolved into a variety of formats, including shared hosting, dedicated hosting and cloud hosting. Besides websites, hosting also may include data/storage hosting, application/software hosting and IT services hosting. The line is also blurred with cloud computing and virtualization, which allow another level of sophistication and customization.

Different Types of Web Hosting

There are many types of hosting that cater to different user needs. A beginner who is planning to build a small website will benefit most from a shared hosting plan, while an online store owner may need more resources; hence, go for VPS or cloud hosting.

To cater to all users’ needs, hosting providers offer numerous hosting types, including:

Shared Hosting

The least expensive type of web hosting, shared hosting, means your website shares processing power, RAM, and storage space with other websites on the same server.

While it is the simplest form of hosting, it is also the least powerful. Ideal for personal websites, blogs, or small businesses with low traffic, it offers less customization compared to other options and can experience slower loading times if other websites on the same server are experiencing higher traffic. However, since no coding is needed, this type is most suitable for beginners.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

Essentially, VPS hosting offers multiple virtual compartments within a physical server, with each compartment acting as an independent server. Furthermore, each VPS has its own dedicated resources, including processing power, RAM, and storage space.

Unlike shared hosting, where resources are shared amongst multiple websites, with a VPS, you have much more control. For example, you can install your preferred operating system software and configure settings without affecting other websites on the server.

Additionally, this type is much more suitable for medium sites and small online stores, as it offers more resources and can be scaled easily.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is a type of web hosting that relies on a network of interconnected servers in the cloud rather than a single physical server.
One advantage of cloud hosting is scalability. You can easily adjust resources such as storage and processing power up and down to match your website’s needs. Another is resilience. If one server in the network experiences a problem, your website automatically shifts to another. This reduces the risk of increased downtime.

Dedicated Hosting

Ideal for high-traffic websites, dedicated hosting provides exclusive access to an entire physical server.
One of the benefits is that it enables complete customization and security. Dedicated hosting is also well suited to resource-intensive applications such as video editing. The downside is that it’s the most expensive web hosting option and requires in-house technical expertise to manage the server.

Reseller/White Label Hosting

Reseller, or white-label hosting, is a type of hosting that functions exactly like shared hosting. You buy hosting services from a larger, more experienced web hosting company at wholesale prices. This is then packaged up, and you are able to resell the resources for profit to someone looking to build a website.

This enables you to pose as a web host yourself since you are able to brand the service yourself, and the original service provider is not mentioned at all.

How to Pick a Web Host

Picking the right web hosting solution for you will depend entirely on your personal needs. However, here are a few things you need to consider when taking your pick:

  • Resources – Envision the type of website you want to build. Depending on how many pages you’ll have, as well as images, videos, and more, you will need adequate server resources, like storage space, bandwidth, RAM, and more.
  • Uptime – Frequent downtime means a negative experience for users and a decline in search engine rankings. While finding a web host with 100% uptime is near impossible, go for one that guarantees at least 99.9% uptime.
  • Performance – Statistics show that 40% of users lose interest if the page takes more than 3 seconds to load. Check user reviews and make sure that the host does not have any issues with its servers.
  • Scalability – How easy is it to change your package to accommodate your needs? It should be straightforward for you to upgrade and scale as your business evolves or downgrade if you need to.
  • Security – Look for web hosts that provide a robust security infrastructure with regular automated backups, firewalls, SSL certificates, and other security features.
  • Customer Support – As technical issues can arise, it is best to prioritize hosts that offer knowledgeable 24/7 customer support via different channels (email, live chat, phone). Check user reviews to see what other people think.
  • Pricing – Compare plans and price points between different hosts. Some might include the essentials, like a custom domain name or an SSL, for free, while others will charge extra.

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

Both web hosting and domain names are crucial elements of getting your website online, but they play distinct roles. Whereas web hosting is best thought of as storage for your website’s files, the domain name is the name that users type into their browser, such as

To use an analogy, web hosting is like the contents of a shop, while the domain name is like the address where you’ll find the shop.

The Bottom Line

If you’re planning to build a website, web hosting is a crucial part of the process.

Unless you’re planning to run the site on your personal computer, which will need to be kept up and running 24/7, a web hosting service is your best bet. Depending on the size of your website, you can choose the most suitable hosting type and easily build a functional website in minutes.


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Chris Price
Freelance technology writer
Chris Price
Freelance technology writer

Chris has been a freelance technology journalist since the 1990s. In addition to editing two consumer tech blogs, and, he also regularly contributes tech/business articles to various publications including The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Tech Radar, IFSEC Insider and AI Business. He was recently listed in the TytoTech 500 list of UK tech influencers, one place behind money-saving expert Martin Lewis! A passionate outdoor swimmer, Chris is also a qualified lifeguard.