Web Hosting 101

If you don't understand what web hosting is, what the differences are or why it sometimes fails, this is the blog for you.

Website Hosting
Technical Definition:

When a hosting provider allocates space on a server for a website to store its files, they are hosting a website. Web hosting makes the files that comprise a website (code, images, etc.) available for viewing online. Every website you've ever visited is hosted on a server.

What Is Web Hosting?

Although the internet seems entirely connected and we often refer to things as being in the cloud the reality is that each website needs to live on a computer, which is responsible for serving the website. That computer has a whole load of software that serves the image to your web browser. It’s called a Web ‘Server’. It serves you your content.

Every web page you view and every image you view actually lives on a physical computer somewhere. 

That computer needs physical space in a building with a really fast internet connection being fed a constant supply of electricity and air conditioning as computers constantly running gets very hot. These buildings are called data centres.

They need all of their software to be kept constantly up-to-date and secure from hackers. The contents of their hard drives (your website included) need to be backed up in case there’s an emergency. In the event that hardware fails that hardware needs to be replaced. All of those services combined together are what we normally refer to as web hosting.

Are There Different Types of Hosting?

You can get hosting at a variety of prices from a variety of companies, but it can be hard to know where the best value for money lies. 

 Speed

An important element of web hosting is where the servers are located. The location affects how quickly your website loads. It takes about 15ms to get a response from a server in London from somewhere else in the UK, but it can take closer to 115ms to get the same response from a server in America.

As a human 100ms (that’s 100 milliseconds) might not seem like a lot, but that's for each asset of your website. With a request for dozens or even hundreds of assets for each webpage, those delays can quickly add up to a website that takes a few seconds longer to load. Speed is key to not just user engagement but things like SEO, which judges slow websites harshly.

Our hosting is underpinned by Amazon Web Services, which means our websites are in the same UK data centres in London as some huge website services like Facebook, Netflix, the BBC and LinkedIn.

Support

What level of support can you expect from your new website host? If something goes wrong how long will it take to get a response to your support ticket? It's important to know how quickly the team behind your website will deal with any issues which crop up. 

Accountability

Most hosting companies will offer an uptime guarantee for a certain amount of the time, different providers think that it's acceptable for a website to unavailable for different periods of time. You want your hosting company to guarantee your website is available for as much of the time as possible and be accountable for any time over that where your site is unavailable.

You also need to make sure that they are responsible for backing up your website, sometimes the website owner is deemed responsible for creating their own backups. You don't want to pay for a site to be built for you, only to lose it with no backup because there was an error with your server. 

What Happens When a Website Goes Down?

Website hosting is an extremely complex service, however, when it works you’re unlikely to ever think about it. If a website goes down, it's because something somewhere has gone wrong. Our hosting includes a lot of redundancy measures to ensure continuous, uninterrupted service. 

There’s normally hardware redundancy so that if a piece of the computer breaks it can be replaced without the computer even needing to be restarted.

There are also normally all sorts of additional redundancy like diesel generators in case there’s a power cut, and physical security to prevent unauthorised access to the data centre.

There are an array of reasons that your website hosting could fail, and with no website hosting, you no longer have a website on the internet. 

To Host Or Not To Host

Finding your own website host is a headache that you probably don't need. That's why we have included it with all the website packages that we sell.

Our pay monthly website platform means you never need to think about website hosting, backups, software updates, hardware updates... it’s all part of our service.

If you'd like us to design and host your company website then just get in touch

Posted on July 13th 2020

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