Web hosting services: a clear definition for the confused business
15th January, 2016
We look after a wide range of businesses and ensure their websites remain online and are accessible. While it is something we handle for our clients on a regular basis, we often get asked why web hosting and website maintenance is so important and what is the difference between domain registration, web hosting and email hosting.
We realise that some of these terminologies may well cause some confusion. So to save our clients time and break down those puzzling terms, we’ve put together a quick beginner’s guide to answer some of those FAQ’s that surround the world of website hosting.
What is web hosting and why do I need it?
In its simplest form, web hosting is the process of storing a website on a web server – it is your website’s physical location on the “World Wide Web”. It is possible to host your own website on any computer but it will only be as good as your own Internet connection. A secure and optimised web server solves that issue.
A web server’s engine is specifically designed to provide fast and secure storage with regular protected backups. This means you will have far less chance of your connection going down and if anything were to go wrong, you have experts dealing with the issue in a timely, organised manner.
What’s the difference between a server, an IP address and a domain name?
Here we’ve used a block of flats as a visual example.
Imagine the main building embodies the whole server and the many flats located within it are the websites, web pages and files that are stored there.
An IP address is like the equivalent of a postal address that represents a specific digital device, namely the web server.
The domain name of a website simply translates this IP address into a user friendly, easy to remember name. The majority of the time it contains the business name, followed by the signifying domain extension .com / co.uk for example.
For the purpose of our diagram it would be the equivalent of the signpost pointing at the block of flats communicating where a website lives.
Without a domain name you would have to provide your customers with a rather annoying set of number such as 123.654.789.321, which does nothing to communicate who you are let alone what you do.
Does web hosting include email hosting? No, not always, but it can easily be hosted alongside your website on the same server. Likewise it is also possible to keep your emails separate and just solely host a website and we offer either option with our personal web hosting service dependent on the individual client requirements.
What is DNS and why is it important? DNS (Domain Name System) is the glue that holds the Internet together. It's like the telephone exchange between your domain name and our servers. When you visit a website or send an email, the first port-of-call is the DNS, so it's pretty important.
Diagram by Sally Elford
Here at Nexus we have 2 DNS services running in tandem so if the main one goes down, the backup takes over while we fix it, so it’s pretty secure.
Hopefully we have clarified a few of the basic terms and you have a better understanding of the operational structures that make up website hosting services.
Here are a few features included in our personal approach web hosting services:
•Dedicated and optimised servers that are equipped to support your business as it grows
•Daily data back-ups — we use only the highest standards of remote storage to ensure your website receives the best protection available
•Reliability and speed — because we know that performance matters
•Email as standard, spam protection and auto responders and forwarders