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Introductory guide to website hosting

We’re asked all the time: what is website hosting? It’s a fair question. Hosting seems complicated and when you don’t know the jargon, it can be baffling. Help is at hand from the Intuitiv team, a bunch of experienced people who understand the nuts and bolts of hosting. In an online world where bad quality hosting not just affects a business but can sink it, a quality host matters. Read on for simply-put hosting insight from a B2B website design Umbraco agency offering some of the best hosting around. By the end of this article you’ll know your web hosting definition stuff, able to choose the ideal web hosting company with confidence.

What is website hosting?

First, let’s give you a clear web hosting definition. Web hosting is about paying for space to house your website on the internet. A host provides a home for your website files, which it keeps on a web server. A server is a computer configured to run hosting software.

Web hosting makes the code, images, and everything else that makes up your site available online so search engines can show it to people. You can’t run a website without a host, and every website is hosted on a server.

The amount of server space you need depends on the type of hosting. Hosting can be shared, dedicated, on a VPS (Virtual Private Server), and on the Cloud. They all have their own server technology, management levels, and extras.

How does web hosting work

Next, we’ll explore exactly how web hosting works. Web hosting services work by providing stable, secure storage space for website files, making everything easy for site owners and managers to access and maintain. It involves joining a number of dots so the website files are all there, talk to the hosting software in the way they need to, and fulfil the needs of search engines.  

When your hosting isn’t good enough, the support is poor or non-existent, or you just don’t buy enough space on the server for your business to grow, nightmares can happen. Your site might hang or stop working altogether when you get more than the usual number of visitors. Security might become a problem. Your brand can suffer as well. Who wants to buy from a site that’s slow to load and a pain to use?

Get your web hosting provider and hosting type right and your online business will be safe and secure for users. It’ll work properly no matter how busy it gets, with room for instant expansion when you need more file space. It will give you excellent up-time and be highly unlikely to go offline. If you need help and support there’ll be a team of real humans to talk to, people who understand everything about hosting. 

Types of web hosting

There are many different types of webs hosting you can choose from, each with their own pros and cons. Below we have gone over the most popular choices and provided some insight as to what they offer as well as the benefits and drawbacks they come with.

Shared hosting

Shared hosting is where several websites are kept on the same server. You’ll also share some of the hosting resources with other hosted websites on your server. It’s popular for small websites with a small number of files and no need for large amounts of storage space, for example a simple brochure site without an ecommerce element. You’ll often get a collection of smaller, lower-resource sites on the same shared server, and that’s fine. It’s an affordable option at £1 a month upwards, nice and easy to use, and the most popular choice. But it makes sense to buy a good quality shared hosting package.

Shared hosting means you don’t need any specific technical knowledge. It comes with user-friendly out-of-the-box native website management features, and the server has been pre-configured. Add managed administration and maintenance for the server you’re on and it’s a great hands-free way to host a site.

There are some downsides. Shared hosting often only supports certain programming languages and environments, the basics like HTML and PHP. Because they usually come with bandwidth limits you’ll pay more whenever you go over the traffic limit, which can mount up.  You’ll face either limited storage space or expensive upgrades as you grow, and when traffic surges on the other sites on the same server, your site can slow right down or crash.

Dedicated Hosting

A dedicated web hosting company deal gives you exclusive rights over a web server. You’re the only business on the server, which means you can automatically flex to handle high traffic and spikes, only limited by the capacity of the server. The resources you pay for are guaranteed. You’re responsible for security and maintenance, which means you need a decent level of server experience and expertise.  You control the server’s configuration and customisation, with full access to the server. Being alone means you can achieve better privacy and security, and enjoy stable and predictable site performance.

Dedicated hosting is the most expensive type of hosting. You’ll need a suite of technical resources for management, experience, confidence, and be prepared to handle regular maintenance and upkeep.

Thankfully, our Infrastructure Team have all the experience needed to do this for you so no additional technical expertise is required from your side. It just gets left in the capable hands of the experts! 

VPS Hosting

What is website hosting on a VPS? VPS Hosting means you still share a physical server with other website owners, like shared hosting, but your site is held in a separate, independent area of the server. This means you get higher storage limits and better bandwidth than shared hosting, although it’s still limited. There’s a different kind of dedicated server space and it’s both stable and scalable. You get root access to the server, which means you can install the software you want. And it’s a lot more cost-efficient than a dedicated server.

There’s quite a lot of responsibility. You have to handle software patches and security, and manage it well so the site stays safe and secure. All the server’s performance tuning and everyday housekeeping jobs are yours as well. You’ll need the technical experience to organise the hosting, make it happen, and manage everything going forwards, and it comes with its own limitations on configuration and control.

Again, if you choose an Intuitiv hosted solution all this is left in the capable hands of our Infrastructure Team... you won't have to lift a finger or get close to pressing the On/ Off switch.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting, means paying for your own slice of a data centre. You need to know how to run your web applications on the infrastructure, which is made up of distributed servers. This means you have fewer latency issues, where your site content takes ages to load, and more resources. Cloud hosting also comes with limited downtime, which is great, and fast on-demand access to resources. Pay-per-use pricing keeps things simple and there’s plenty of opportunity for scalability as well as customisation. Resource pooling means everything is really easy to scale up and down, and you get easy access to the extra services you might need.

Limited customisation is a feature of hosting on the cloud. It depends on the provider and the type of cloud. You share responsibility for security, and you really need cloud expertise.

How to pick a website host

Finally, let’s go into the things you need to think about when choosing the ideal web hosting company. Your website’s needs come first. If it involves thousands of files, thousands of people buy from you online, your brand is a household name, and you store and use customer data, you will probably be best off with dedicated hosting. When you run a ten page brochure site for a freelance business, everyday shared hosting should be fine.

The Subscription Period matters as well. Do you want to sign up to a host for a year, two years, or a month at a time? Is it easy to get out of the deal if you need to, or will you be stuck with a host whose services and support have gone downhill when you’d rather move your site somewhere more reliable?  Fair refund policies and guarantees are really important things to have.

Cost is always a factor. Does it cost a fortune to buy the hosting, and if so why? It’s also good to know what it’ll cost to renew your hosting. Check the ongoing cost is OK, especially when you’ve scored an excellent bargain for the first subscription period. You don’t want any nasty surprises.

Always check hosts’ Server Reliability and Uptime before making a decision. If the host has suffered a run of slow-downs or you can see how the uptime levels on their website have got worse over time, think again. The best hosting comes with responsive servers that always present your content to people quickly and efficiently, with no delays.

Perhaps your traffic levels have gone through the roof. What happens if you suddenly have a growth spurt, maybe because of a particularly powerful marketing campaign, a great review in a high profile place or a new product nobody else is offering? You’ll want to buy more server space to keep things running smoothly and deliver the best user experience. What are your Upgrade Options? Ideally you’ll want to upgrade instantly whenever you need to. And downgrade quickly if things go quiet.

Think about the everyday Primary Features you need, and take a look at the Add-on Products and Services. Do they provide everything you need? If you’re looking for exceptional E-commerce Site Functionality, will the hosting give you what you want? How about email hosting?

Environmental friendliness is a serious matter right now, and web hosting is energy-intensive. Does your host work to reduce its carbon footprint, maybe by planting trees, or does it offset carbon in other ways? Does it use 100% renewable energy, for example wind or solar?

Every good website deserves the best Website Backup Options, the only way to ensure you can put things back if they ever disappear, you lose the data, it corrupts or you suffer from a malware attack. Good support is essential when you don’t know about servers and hosting, and don’t want to learn.

Get business website hosting right first time

You can see how important it is to choose the right hosting. Great hosting means the business is safer and more secure, the website works better, and you please users more. And all this means consumers are more likely to come back again and again.

If you’d like to take advantage of our superb hosting packages, we provide great Umbraco hosting for our web design Oxford and web development Oxford clients. Get in touch on 01844 888 777 or email us at to talk things through.

Intuitiv Digital

2 Bridge Road
Ickford, nr Thame
HP18 9HX