• 10 Nov

What is Web Hosting and a Domain Name?

You have a website, but who can you approach to provide web hosting service? And what is a domain name? For anyone starting out, these are questions that need to be answered.

What is Web Hosting?

Web hosting is a service offered by a company, which enables companies and individual users to post a website onto the Internet. A website is a group of related web pages found under a single domain name. And what would be a domain name? It is a section of a network address that indicates which domain it belongs to. And domain refers to a specific subset of the Internet, consisting of addresses with a common suffix or falling in the domain of a specific organisation or individual.

On the other hand, the organisation that provides the web hosting service is called a web host or a web hosting company or service provider. It is a host that hosts or stores websites onto a type of computer called a server, and via its own technologies and services, enables a website to be seen on the Internet.

What is a Domain Name?

So, what exactly is a domain? The Domain Name System (DNS) is a naming system that provides addresses for web servers and web pages. So, every server has an easy-to-remember domain name. The actual domain name, which is like an international telephone number, represents an IP (Internet protocol) address, which is difficult to remember as it is quite long. An example of an Internet domain name is wikipedia.org. A domain name is a nickname given to a string of numbers and dots that make up an IP address.  

How do Domain Names Work?

Domain names work from the right to the left, with general descriptors to the right, and specific descriptors to the left. All these descriptors together are called domains. The ‘top-level domains” (TLD, or parent domain) refers to the section found on the most right of the domain name. The mid-level domains (like children and grandchildren domain) are found in the middle. To the far left is the machine’s name, which in most cases is “www”. Dots separate the different levels of the domains.

What Happens When Someone Wants to View a Website?

If anyone would like to view a website, the Internet user will type in a website address, or domain into his or her browser. After the computer has contacted the specific server, the server responds by sending back to your browser some webpages. If you want to have your website hosted with a web hosting company, you will have to buy or rent your own domain. The web host company will sell you a domain should you not have one.

So, in the previous example of wikipedia.org, the mid-level domain is “wikipedia” and the top-level domain is “org.” It is interesting to note that US servers use 3 letters for the top-level domain (“org"), whilst the rest of the world use only 2 – e.g. za (South Africa)

We can now have a quick look at the different types of web hosting services that are available. 

Different Web Hosting Services that are available

  1. Shared Web Hosting
    As the name suggests, this is when several to hundreds of websites are hosted and shared on only one server. The advantage of this hosting is that it is quite cheap to have a website hosted, because the costs of running the server are shared by all the websites. The capabilities of the websites are quite basic and there is not much flexibility. Either Linux shared web hosting or Windows shared web hosting are recommended. 
  2.  Dedicated Web Hosting Service 
    What is dedicated web hosting? This is a server that is completely reserved or dedicated to only one client, who does not share the server with anyone else. This means that the client has greater autonomy when using the dedicated server. It is considerably more expensive than the shared web hosting.
  3. Virtual Private Server (VPS)
    In this case, the host server is divided up into virtual servers. This virtual machine is equipped with its own operating system, and has the same functionality of a dedicated server.
  4.  Colocation Web Hosting
    This is like dedicated hosting, except that the user owns the colo server, and is housed physically at the web host’s facility. The hosting company provides all the maintenance for the server, but the client usually has his or her own administrator for conducting any hardware upgrades. The user has complete control and can install any scripts or applications that may be required. This service is the most expensive and powerful of all the others.
  5. Reseller Web Hosting
    What is reseller web hosting? This is when clients themselves become hosts, and sell a service. Most reseller web hosts offer a virtually identical service compared to the shared hosting plan provided by the web host company. Resellers would have to provide technical support themselves.
  6.  Cloud Web Hosting 
    What is cloud web hosting? A “cloud” usually refers to a few servers that are connected to the Internet, and which can be leased. Cloud-based services include web hosting. It can also refer to “cloud computing”, which is a group of servers working together to share a load of complex computing processes. Cloud servers provide the user stability and security, as problems experienced by other cloud servers won’t affect your cloud server. They are ideal for businesses.
  7. Grid Web Hosting 
    This is a service that will benefit those who need to conduct grid computing. Grid computing refers to using a group of computers or servers which are used together to solve problems that involve many computing cycles. Having such a powerful computing capability makes it less likely that the site will go offline due to any lack of computing support.

    Are you looking for more information about web hosting and domain names? Please feel free to contact us or browse our Web Hosting FAQs


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