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What is website hosting and why is it important?

What is website hosting and why is it important

Published by Andy Butler,
at Freshfield

When it comes to dealing with website hosting, navigating your way through the labyrinth of technical jargon can be difficult, especially if you are the one who has to explain to colleagues what it is and why they are paying for it.

Essentially, website hosting is where your company’s internet files are stored on an internet server. A website cannot exist without being hosted somewhere. When people type in your website address or click through to your website from a search engine, the web page is directed towards that server to access the files and display the website.

At Freshfield we often explain hosting, and the different hosting options available, as an analogy relating to home-ownership – the server is the website’s home and the website address is the postal address for the property.

When it comes to website hosting the choice of options and add-ons is almost limitless. The type of hosting that is right for you depends on your budget and the requirements of the website, such as how complex it is and the levels of traffic it receives.

Shared hosting

This is an ‘entry-level’ hosting option and is where a website is situated on a server alongside hundreds of others. As the name suggests, this type of hosting shares the server resources with the other websites on that server.

Relating this to our property analogy shared hosting can be viewed as a house share property. Should one of the tenants start using more than their fair share of resources in the food cupboard, then this will have a direct impact on the resources available to other tenants in the property.

The main benefit of using shared hosting is the lower cost, but the drawback is your website may be affected by the performance of the other websites on the server.

Virtual private server hosting

Virtual private server, or VPS, hosting is a step up from shared hosting. It is similar to shared hosting in that your website shares a server with a multitude of other websites, but the main difference between the two is that you have your own allocation of server resources and disk space so you are less likely to be directly affected by other websites on that server.

A VPS can be viewed as living in an apartment within a tower block. You live in your own self-contained apartment so have greater control over how you live.

Virtual private servers offer a greater degree of control when it comes to customisation for your requirements, but this comes at an increased cost. This type of hosting option would be suitable for websites with moderately high levels of traffic or for those which take online transactions where reliability is a serious consideration.

Dedicated hosting

Dedicated hosting is the top tier of website hosting, allowing you to rent a server from a hosting company, or house a personal server on business premises.

A dedicated hosting option could be viewed as a privately-owned detached house or mansion. The cost implication of owning one of these can be expensive as you hold responsibility for the maintenance of the server. Just like if the guttering fell off your property in high winds, you will need to cover the cost of repairs.

However, one of the benefits of dedicated hosting is that the business holds full control of server performance and security. If your business has a website that receives high traffic, takes online transactions or holds sensitive data, dedicated hosting is worth consideration.

While each hosting option has its pros and cons, you will need to bear in mind maintenance and upkeep of the website.

As part of our website hosting packages, we regularly upgrade our client’s website software and plugins, carrying out daily backups and security updates to ensure all websites are secure and up-to-date. If you want to know more, just give us a call.

Freshfield’s Digital Bootcamp series

What does this mean for my brand? The world of digital marketing evolves extraordinarily quickly, making it very difficult for busy marketers and business owners to keep pace. Help is at hand in the form of Freshfield’s monthly Digital Bootcamp blog, where our digital consultants answer our clients’ queries in a simple and straightforward manner. If you’ve got a digital marketing question for us, e-mail it to

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