The ABCs of Web Hosting: 10 Hosting Terms You Need to Know

Posted at June 26, 2023 at 7:33 pm by Michael Lavrik

Your website will forever remain offline without web hosting. All websites require web hosting. It’s an essential service that grants access to an internet-connected server. You can configure this server with your website’s domain, after which you can upload your site’s files to it. When browsing some of the different web hosting services, however, you may come across some confusing terms.

1) Control Panel

Web hosting services often feature a control panel. A control panel is a class of software that creates a web-accessible graphical user interface (GUI) for a server. Rather than configuring your server manually, you can use a control panel like cPanel or Plesk. It will streamline and simplify many server configuration tasks by creating a GUI that you can access in a web browser.

2) Bandwidth Limit

A bandwidth limit is the maximum amount of data that can be uploaded to and downloaded from your server during a specific period, such as one month. Web hosting providers typically don’t allow their customers to transfer an unlimited amount of data. Rather, they will often place a monthly limit on how much data they can transfer. Known as a bandwidth limit, it ensures that no single customer congests the provider’s network with an excessive amount of data. Upon reaching the bandwidth limit, providers will either throttle or disable their customers’ accounts.

3) Managed

While most web hosting services are unmanaged, some providers offer managed web hosting services as an alternative. Managed web hosting services are those that include management features. In other words, the provider will manage certain aspects of your server. Managed web hosting services may include features such as malware detection, data backups, script installation and more.

4) IP Address

An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique string of numbers that identifies the location of an internet-connected device. Just like each house has a unique address, each server has its own unique IP address. When you sign up for a web hosting service, the provider will usually assign you an IP address. You can access your server’s control panel using this IP address and your account’s username and password combination.

5) Uptime

Uptime is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a measurement of how long your server has been online relative to how long it’s been offline during a specific period. Servers can experience temporary outages. Assuming your server is only offline for a short period, though, it shouldn’t be a concern. Some providers even offer an uptime guarantee. If your server falls short of the provider’s uptime guarantee, the provider may refund your web hosting costs for that period. Always check for an uptime guarantee when browsing web hosting services.

6) Shared

Shared web hosting services are those in which multiple customers share the resources of a server. Shared is the cheapest type of web hosting. You can subscribe to a shared web hosting service for as little as $3 to $6 per month. With a shared web hosting service, your website will be draw resources from the same hosting server as dozens or even hundreds of other customers’ websites. While they aren’t particularly fast, the low cost of shared web hosting services makes them a popular choice.

Keep in mind that shared web hosting services often require you to share an IP address. You’ll still have your own hosting account, but your website will use the same IP address as other customers on the server.

7) VPS

Another type of web hosting service is virtual private service (VPS). VPS and shared web hosting services are similar. They’ll both grant you access to a server that’s used to host other customers’ websites. The difference is that VPS offers virtualized resource allocation, whereas shared does not. The provider will allocate a specific amount of resources to each customer. By choosing a VPS web hosting service, you won’t have to worry about other customers hogging all of your server’s resources.

8) Dedicated

Along with shared and VPS web hosting services, there are dedicated web hosting services. They are more expensive than their shared and VPS counterparts. Dedicated web hosting services offer exclusive access to a server and its resources. None of the provider’s other customers will be able to access your server, nor will they be able to draw resources from it.

Dedicated web hosting services allow you to retain all of your server’s resources. No other customers will have access to your server. Therefore, all of your server’s resources will go towards powering your website. Dedicated web hosting services are faster and more customizable than other types of web hosting services, making them a smart investment.

9) Disk Space

Also known as disk usage, disk space is the amount of storage space that’s available for you to use. All servers have storage drives. Some of them have hard-disk drives (HDDs), whereas others have solid-state drives (SSDs). HDDs and SSDs are computer devices that are used to read and write data. Each time you upload a file to your server, new data will be written and added to the storage drive. Deleting a file from your server, on the other hand, will result in the removal of this data. Disk space is simply how much storage space you can use.

10) SSL

You may encounter the term Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) when investigating web hosting services. SSL is a form of traffic encryption that’s used to implement Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). To implement HTTPS on your website, you’ll need to install an SSL certificate on your server. An SSL certificate will convert your website’s protocol to HTTPS. All data sent over the HTTPS protocol is encrypted, resulting in a higher level of data privacy for your website’s visitors.

Choosing a web hosting service is a big decision. If it’s slow, unreliable or lacks essential features, you may struggle to manage your website. By learning these hosting terms, you’ll have an easier time finding the perfect web hosting service.

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