The Wonderful World of Web Servers: What’s a Web Server? and How Do You Pick the Best One?

Web servers are the backbone of your site. But do you know what exactly is a web server?

Are you ready to take the next step and publish your new website online? 1.6 billion websites. That’s the number of webpages online. This is your competition.

So, how do you get started? If you’re new to the web, then this world can be overwhelming. There is a lot to learn, but that’s why you are here.

What is a Web Server?

The web server is the backbone of the internet. These servers host all of the files that show the internet as you see it today. When you go to a website address, the domain name you type in talks to a service called DNS. It knows the address of the server you need to communicate with.

Cloud site interaction

Once your browser knows this address, it can then talk to the server and display the information that it sends. This information can be through HTML or other programming languages like PHP.

Do you need to set all of this up yourself? Luckily, no. A web host will handle this for you.

What Does A Web Host Do?

A web host has invested in the computer hardware and software to make this as easy as possible for you.

They provide you monthly or yearly subscription plans which give you a control panel to manage your website. From there you can upload your files, manage databases, and configure your domain name to work correctly.

Types of Web Hosting

Shared Hosting

Getting a shared host is one of the most affordable ways to get your website on the web. Not only are they the cheapest option, but they are also the most beginner friendly.

Under these plans, you will share a web server with several other website owners. You share the disc space, bandwidth, and server resources.

However, this carries the possibility that another website will have problems, get hacked, and hog resources.

Keep in mind that a shared hosting account only provides you with limited access to manage the server. If you want to host a more complex web application, then you may not have the tools necessary.

VPS Hosting

VPS Hosting

When you buy VPS hosting you are going a step above shared hosting. Unlike a shared host, you won’t be running your website in the same environment as anyone else. Instead, you will get a virtual server that separates your webpage from the other customers.

You will still share the resources on the server hardware, but you won’t have to worry about another website on your server having problems and causing trouble for you as well.

This service will also give you root access to the server. This access will allow you to configure it is whatever way you like. It’s perfect for a user that needs something more complex.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated Hosting

A dedicated host is for the person who wants the top of the line.

With this service, you get all the benefits of VPS hosting, but get the server all to yourself. There are two different versions of dedicated hosting.

  • A managed dedicated host is one where the hosting provider still maintains and updates your server. You won’t need to worry about server patching or other technical problems.
  • An unmanaged dedicated host is one where you need to maintain everything. Only get this if you are a more experienced user and know how to manage a server yourself.

With all this power comes a cost. Dedicated hosting is the most expensive of the three. If you are on a budget, you will want to stick with shared or VPS hosting.

Hosting Features

Now that you know what to look for in a hosting package, we can touch on some extra features that providers offer.

Addon Domains

Domain Name

What if you want to put more than one webpage on your host?

To do this, you need an addon domain. It is a common feature but isn’t always available on the least expensive subscriptions. Make sure your plan can accommodate for this.

SSL Certificates

SSL is what makes your site secure. Many hosting providers provide free SSL certificates with the LetsEncrypt service. Others still require payment, which will range from $49 to $399 for a single domain.

Don’t miss this step, as it is vital for your user’s security and can help make your site appear more trustworthy to Google.

Email

Most providers will give you unlimited email addresses with your domain name. But, not all of them do this.

Double check the packages you are thinking of purchasing to make sure it has enough email addresses for your needs.

Backups

What would you do if you woke up one morning and browsed to your website, but nothing was there?

WordPress Backup

Backups are key. When you are using software like WordPress or Drupal, this is even truer. Bad things happen, and you need a service that provides backup so you can restore when the worst-case scenario happens.

Final Words

There is a lot you need to figure out when picking a web server, but we have given you everything you need to know to get started. Make sure that you lay out everything you need and examine all of your options.

Keep the following in mind when you are making your choice:

  • Is it critical for your website to stay online and not avoid hassles caused by other customers?
  • Is your webpage complex enough to need configuration changes on the web server?
  • Do you need any extra features like additional emails or a backup service?

Answer these questions, and I’m sure you can pick the right service.

Do you still have questions about the web hosting experience? Contact us today, and let us help!

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Published on March 11, 2019 by Peter Hughes. Filed under: .

Peter Hughes is a digital marketing consultant and author. Peter has more than 10 years of experience in SEO and Internet marketing.

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