This is a question that I often get asked by some of my clients so I thought it would be useful to write an explanation of website hosting.
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In a nutshell, website hosting (or web hosting) is a service that stores a website (which is made up of computer files and sometimes databases) on a special purpose computer and delivers it to anyone who requests some information from your website.
For example, if someone opens a web browser on their phone or computer and types in the address of your website or finds it on Google, they will see a ‘page’ from your website. All the information on this page has to be stored on a special type of computer that has a high capacity connection to the internet, is available 24/7 and capable of handling a large volume of requests at the same time and has all the specialised software needed to operate your website. This computer is called a web server (technically the web server is something running on the computer but we often just call the computer a web server). So to have a website on the internet you need to have it on a web server. A web hosting company operates web servers and rents out space on their web servers where people or businesses can put all the files and data needed to run their website and have it delivered to anyone who connects to the internet and requests a page from the website.
What about domain name registration?
A frequent point of confusion for some people is that they pay a bill for their domain name registration and then they receive a bill for website hosting. They often wonder, didn’t I pay that that already? Well, domain name registration and web hosting are actually two different services and both are essential for keeping a website up and running. A domain name is your web address. For example, the domain name of this website is sww.nz. So to run this website I have to register the domain name sww.nz. It is registered for a certain period of time, often one year, and then I need to pay my domain name registrar to renew the registration. If I don’t keep it renewed, the domain no longer belongs to me and is no longer hooked up to this website so the website will not be available to anyone who requests it.
So now you can see that you need both of these essential services to keep a website up and running: you need an address for your website (the domain name) AND you need a special computer to store your website files and deliver it to anyone who requests it (website hosting).
Here at Stellar Web Works, we offer a reliable web hosting service with personalised support. We can assist with domain name registration but do not provide this service directly. Usually we set up an account for our customers at a domain name registrar and then we hand that account over to the customer and they get billed directly by that other company for domain name renewal.
This content was originally published here.