Just what is Web Hosting exactly?
What Is Web Hosting? – Hosting the files that make up your website
All websites are made up of a collection of data files containing content to be read by a web browser (Safari, Google Chrome etc.) and presented to an end user (you). These files are transferred between users and their devices (laptop, mobile phone etc.), across the interconnected network we know as the Internet.
However, for those files to be found and shared, they physically need to exist in a location from which they can be found and retrieved – this is called hosting.
What Is Web Hosting? – Web Hosts and Servers
A web host (machine) is most typically a ‘web server’. This is a computer based device with a large memory capacity, which stores all our website data and maintains a live connection to the rest of the Internet.
There will be a web server (or multiple) which holds the files for thewebputsimply.com. That server receives a request over the Internet from your device to open and share the website pages you wish to view. This is the fundamental service of a web server – to host (hold) data files, and then serve them upon request.
All websites and web pages are hosted by servers. For example, if you wanted to read up about the Best Free Online eLearning Courses & Videos in 2023, then that webpage and all of its content will be requested and then served from a web server.
What Is Web Hosting? – Clustered Web Servers and Server Farms
Modern web servers are high tech pieces of dedicated computer kit and will often host the data files for many, many websites. Servers are often be grouped into ‘clusters’ to provide greater computing power, better response times, and a level of ‘redundancy’. If one server machine fails, then there will always be at least one other available to step in, take up the load, and keep your website live. Very large clusters of servers are often referred to as ‘server farms’.
Slightly different topic, but Server Farms are actually similar in nature and physical setup, to Bitcoin Mining Farms – which are huge networked configurations of server equipment, dedicated to maintaining the Bitcoin network and ‘minting’ new Bitcoins over time. Read our post on What is Bitcoin? to learn more about that.
The term ‘web host’ may well refer to the actual server machine(s) on which your site is hosted, but more broadly it can also refer to the service providers who sell hosting and will provide managed server farms on which to host your site.
Common web hosts (providers), which you may have heard of, include JustHost, GoDaddy, WPX Hosting, NameCheap, GatorHost etc.