Hosting your own website can be a highly challenging yet equally rewarding process. Websites have an endless number of uses that can serve just about any purpose you can think of. Whether you’re looking to start a personal portfolio, small blog, or a profitable business, hosting a website is the perfect place to start. 

If you’re new to the world of web hosting then you’ll understandably have a bunch of questions. Luckily for you, we’re here to lend a hand. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common web hosting questions along with in-depth answers to help get you started. After reading this article, you’ll understand the basic concepts of web hosting and will see that even complete beginners with no prior web development experience can still set up a perfectly functional website.

Two men completing a web hosting task on their laptop.
Did you know that the global web hosting services market is expected to reach $152.7 billion by 2026? 

10 common web hosting questions and answers

If you’re considering hosting your own website, or simply just want to find out more about web hosting in general, then have a read of these ten common questions and answers! (You can also learn what consider when choosing a web hosting provider here!)

What is web hosting?

Web hosting is a service that publishes your website or application on the world wide web so it can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. In turn, a web hosting provider will offer the facilities needed for websites to be viewed online. Each websites’ files are stored on hardware called web servers, which then send the files to any visitor through their web browser. To put it simply, web hosting a website is basically renting a virtual space on the internet. 

What is a domain name? 

A domain name is the text that a user types into their browser to reach a specific website, such as Domain names were created as an easier alternative to visiting websites online, as without these, users would have to type in the IP address of any site in order to visit it. An IP address is a unique string of numbers that is allocated to each digital device and allows them to communicate with each other. An IP address consists of four numbers (ranging from 0 to 255) that are separated by 3 dots and will look something like this: 

So, imagine an IP address is your house’s GPS coordinates. These coordinates help identify exactly where you are so people can send mail to your house, however, it’s a fairly complicated set of numbers that can be hard to remember. On the other hand, domain names are like house addresses. They also help people to find you and send mail to you, but they’re also much easier to remember as it’s not just a random set of numbers, but rather a string of text.   

What does uptime mean and why is it important? 

Uptime refers to how much time your website is online. If your website goes offline, then no one can access it. Websites can go offline (down) for a number of reasons, including a server overload, maintenance, hardware failure, and cyberattacks. It’s impossible for any website to always be online, however, regular or prolonged downtime can result in a loss of website visitors and, subsequently, damage your business’s reputation  

Web hosts are expected to have an average uptime of at least 99.9%, meaning that the websites they host are only down for .1% of the time. 99.9% uptime translates to approximately 8 hours of downtime out of an entire year, or 10 minutes a week. 

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth refers to the maximum amount of data that a website can transfer to users at one time. A set amount of bandwidth is usually offered by hosting providers as part of their plans. Bandwidth is usually measured in either MB/s (Megabytes per Second) or GB/s (Gigabytes per Second).

Bandwidth is an important factor to consider when web hosting as it can determine how well your site can withstand an influx in traffic. Less bandwidth can be compared to a narrow road, in that traffic will have to move more slowly for each individual to get to the final location. Similarly, more bandwidth is like a wide highway, where all traffic has more space and therefore can move much faster. So, the more bandwidth your website has, the more capacity it can hold, and thus, more data can be transferred at a single point in time.

What is disk space?

Disk space (sometimes called storage or webspace) is the amount of space you are allocated on a server to store the contents of your website. This includes all text, images, graphics, web scripts, databases, multimedia files, and pretty much everything else that makes up your website. 

Since every website is different and consists of different features, the amount of disk space required can vary drastically. For example, blogs are generally made up of mostly text with perhaps a few images and videos, meaning that they’ll likely use up more than 1 GB of disk space. On the other hand, eCommerce websites will often consist of tons of product pages accompanied with high-quality images and various plugins such as shopping carts and stored emails. These additions will quickly use up much more room on a server, so you’ll likely need up to 4 GB of disk space.

What is SSL? 

A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a security protocol that establishes encrypted links between computers to help to keep sensitive customer information private and secure. SSL certificates are often provided as a free additional feature in web hosting plans but can also be purchased separately. SSL is a must-have for eCommerce websites especially, however, should also be considered for any website.  

Users can easily identify if a website has an SSL certificate by looking at the top left side of the URL in their browser. All SSL-protected websites will display a small padlock which confirms that all transmitted data will be secured and not susceptible to being intercepted by a hacker. In order to protect your website customers from online risks such as credit card fraud and identity theft, you must have an SSL certificate. 

What does root access mean? 

Root access means having full control over your server to authorize any command without needing permission from your hosting provider. This means you’ll have full, unrestricted access to your server to customize it however you want. Root access is offered along with any cloud, dedicated, or VPS hosting plans. 

Root access is usually utilized by experienced users who want to optimize a server to suit their preferences. With root access, users can perform dozens of actions, such as altering security settings, installing third-party software, and modifying files, all of which would be impossible otherwise. 

What is cPanel? 

cPanel is a graphical interface that’s used as a control panel to help with the backend management of a website and server. cPanel is designed to simplify various tasks so that even inexperienced users can efficiently manage a website. With cPanel access, you can perform numerous complex tasks such as managing files, installing software, checking server usage statistics, scheduling backups, and managing security protocols. 

Overall,cPanel is a straightforward tool that eases the web hosting learning curve for beginners. This tool is most commonly included within shared hosting plans but can be subsidized by more complex control panels in other plans such as VPS and cloud hosting. 

What is migration? 

When referring to web hosting, migration is the act of moving from one hosting provider to another. This means backing up and copying all of your website files before setting up your entire website through your new hosting account. Users might decide to migrate their site for many reasons, including finding a more cost-effective hosting deal, or in an attempt to improve the site’s overall performance. 

Migration can be a fairly complicated task, especially since users will want to avoid as much downtime as possible. Many web hosting providers will offer ‘free site migration’ which means that they will guide you through the process of your website’s migration, or in some cases, will complete the entire process for you. 

What is SEO?

SEO stands for ‘search engine optimization’ and is the process of optimizing a website to increase its visibility in search engines such as Google and Bing. These search engines use bots to crawl web pages and collect information that’s stored in an index. This index is what appears when you search for anything, ensuring that you always find what you’re looking for. However, when most of us search for something through Google, we usually click on one of the first few results that appear. So, how do these web page results rank high and appear on the top of the search page?

There are hundreds of factors that influence the ranking of each website. These factors include page speed, mobile-friendliness, content quality, backlinks, user experience, and much more. Search engines will take all of these factors into consideration and rank web pages accordingly. If you want your website to appear at the top of any SERP (search engine results page), then you need to pay attention to SEO and make any necessary alterations. Many web hosts will include SEO tools that can assist you with ranking higher which can result in many more visitors to your website.

Find out the best web hosts for SEO here!

To conclude

We hope we’ve answered some of your web hosting questions and that you’ve gained a much better understanding after reading this article! If you decided that you now want to host your own website, then the next step is to choose from the different types of hosting solutions. Good luck!