What Is Website Hosting?

If you are looking to build a website for your business you’ll need website hosting. If you already have a website for your business, you have hosting.

But what is website hosting and why do you need it?

Put simply, your host is just the computer that your website lives on; this computer is called a server. While it’s not immediately obvious, the internet is actually just a series of interconnected computers, and the server your website sits on is one of those connected computers.

We won’t get too technical here, but when a user types your website address into their browser, finds it through Google, or follows a link, a signal is sent to retrieve your website data from your server. Some technical magic happens so that signal knows where to go, but that’s the short version.

So your host is the company that keeps and maintains your server. By “your” server we mean you’re likely renting some server space from your hosting provider.

How Should I Choose A Hosting Provider?

There are a lot of hosting companies out there so we’re not going to make specific recommendations. When choosing a host you want to consider.

  • Cost – hosting cost can vary considerably. Cheep hosting may be suitable for a small site, but you’ll be lacking things if you need something bigger.
  • Speed – nobody likes a slow site. Your users will hate it and site speed is a ranking factor for search engines. Generally a faster site is more expensive though.
  • Features – such as the software to manage your hosting, storage space, backups, and more.
  • Server Location – often overlooked, the physical location of the server can affect speed and have some SEO implications.

All of this needs to be weighed up before you choose your hosting provider. If you’re a small local company, you may be able to get away with a cheaper host that has servers in Australia. However, if you’re expecting more traffic, you may need to go with a more expensive option.

If you’re a relative novice, you may want to pay for certain software features that make it easier to manage your hosting.

Thankfully a lot of hosting providers although you to upgrade over time.

I Have A Website But I Don’t Know Who My Hosting Provider Is

Don’t worry, this isn’t uncommon for a lot of businesses.

If you don’t know who your hosting provider is, you likely fall into one of two camps:

  • You created your own site using a platform like Wix or Squarespace. These companies provide hosting as part of the platform. It’s easy to overlook, but you’re paying for both the CMS software and the hosting.
  • You had an agency build your website for you. If this was the case, the agency who built your site is likely hosting your website (and charging you for it).
    • Don’t worry, this is quite common. A lot of agencies will buy server space from a larger provider then resell it to clients.

In either case your website “lives” on a computer somewhere.

Why Can’t I Host My Website Myself?

You can try, but it’s likely more trouble than it’s worth.

Firstly, a lot of internet service providers won’t allow you to do this, and they’ll know if you try.

From there you need to have a computer that is always on, software, and a bit of know how to set everything up and maintain it. It’s much easier to just rent server space from a company who knows what they’re doing!