Whether you’re a new business looking to get online, or an established brand looking around for new options, the term "web hosting" will have undoubtedly cropped up here and there. But what is web hosting?


Web hosting is a type of hosting that gives you the platform you need to get a website live. It provides a server that hosts your site's files and allows your website to exist online in slightly different technological setups. In short, if the site exists, it’s using some form of web hosting.

What is web hosting for?

So you’ve developed an amazing-looking site, but what do you do with your code? Where does it go? That’s where web hosting comes in. Web hosting is the process by which files are stored online and then used to build and display a website that can be visited by web users. Every website in the world is hosted on a server, so it’s essentially a given in the world of websites, and a term worth getting accustomed to if you are shopping around for a potential website solution.

Who uses web hosting?

The way in which a website is ‘put live’, web hosting is for anyone who wants to do just that. There are many types of web hosting that offer varied benefits so different people and organisations will use different hosting options based on their use case.

How does web hosting work?

Web hosting effectively provides a secure online location in which website files and data are stored. When someone visits your site, these files are accessed and used to display your site. This process all relies on servers, most of which are physical machines that provide online locations, which can be accessed by other web users.

Server options

There’s a variety of different hosting options for businesses looking to either get online or switch from their current setup. But there are different benefits and limitations across these options depending on what you want to use your hosting for. So what are your web hosting options?

Shared servers

With a shared server, you share your space with several other sites. Sharing your resources means that you're sharing the cost so shared hosting is normally more affordable compared to other options.

But sharing does have its drawbacks – it could result in data congestion between other sites and possible performance issues. It also means that how other users run their sites can impact your own, with a potential increase in cybersecurity risks as you never know who your ‘neighbours’ are.

Dedicated servers

Meanwhile, a dedicated server is yours alone - it’s dedicated to your project. You don’t share your space with anyone else and get all the benefits that go along with this. These include the security of knowing you aren’t sharing a server with malicious or undesirable neighbours, increased stability and speed, and more flexibility and customisation.

Dedicated hosting is built for larger projects like upscaling your ecommerce site. You can even host larger business sites knowing you can welcome more visitors without the worry of traffic spikes.

Cloud servers

A cloud server is a server that is delivered through a network rather than relying on local physical servers. This means that a cloud server can be accessed from anywhere, by anyone who's authorised to do so. And probably the biggest advantage of cloud servers is that most offer flexible billing (start, stop and pause your server when you need to) and scalable resources – great for growing projects.

If you're wondering what you'd use a cloud server for, it's fairly similar to dedicated hosting. You could use it to get beefy performance for your ecommerce site or you could use it to host an educational resource centre with file sharing and live training.

Free vs paid servers

One 'web hosting' crossroad you’ll find yourself at is whether to go down the free or paid route. So what’s the difference?

Free

While using a free service might seem like a no-brainer, you might not want to cut corners when it comes to your business' online presence. Free hosting comes with a handful of limitations and disadvantages, like pop-up ads, capped bandwidth or the obligation to feature the provider's branding on your site. Plus you might not be able to use a custom domain name in your URL or use a lot of the customisation tools unless you upgrade to a paid package.

The main drawback of paid hosting is the cost, especially if you're on a tight budget. But high-performance hosting doesn't need to break the bank. In fact, a lot of web hosting is extremely affordable and, for what you pay, the benefits are undeniably worth it. A paid web hosting service provides the advanced functionality, customisation and reliability that every business needs, from ecommerce features to high level security measures.

Do I need web hosting?

If you want a website, then the short answer is yes you do. Luckily for you, there are plenty of providers around offering a range of different hosting options depending on what you need for your project.

Looking to get online quickly and efficiently? Then look no further than our range of Web Hosting packages. You’ll get everything you need to get online, like a free domain name and SSL certificate included as standard – and that’s just for starters! If you need any help deciding which hosting is best for you, our sales team is here to answer questions, no matter how big or small.