If you’re new to web hosting or making websites in general, you might be wondering: “What is a host?”
You’ve got to know what you’re dealing with before you can move forward with your plans of taking over the internet with your incredibly new website.
There are a few different moving parts when it comes to setting up and managing your website, and it’s a lot easier once you can visualize what these different parts actually do.
So, this page is going to answer the question of what is a web host, a server, a domain registrar, and how they all work together to keep your website online.
What is Hosting? Let’s Put The Puzzle Together…
The first piece of the puzzle is your domain name, and that’s what people type into their browser when they want to visit your website, but it’s not actually the same as your website/host. Think of it like an address. The address to your home tells people where they can find your home, but it’s not actually your physical home, it’s just a representation of where that home is located. The domain name is similar.
When someone types in your domain name (For example, MamboServer.com), they’re directed to your server’s IP address. Typing in a domain name is a lot easier than typing in a long IP address.
The domain name points to the location of your hosting, where the files are actually stored. There are giant warehouses filled with servers, and those servers are rented out to customers like you, by hosting companies. The amount of power and resources you’ll get from those servers depends on which hosting package you choose, which is decided by how large and popular your website is. For smaller sites, you can use less expensive hosting. For big sites, you’ll need more resources, and thus you’ll need more expensive hosting.
Essentially, the question “What is a host?” can be answered as follows: It’s where your website is stored.
The Hosting Piece of the Puzzle: What IS a Host?
A hosting company rents you a slab of their servers, which is where your website is physically stored, and then your domain name is linked to that hosting location so that when people type in your website’s address, they’ll end up on your site.
There are many different hosting companies and brands out there, and they offer a variety of different types of servers for you to rent from them. Choosing the right one is very important.
Some hosting companies have plans that are dead-simple to setup, even if you’ve never done it before. These are the types of hosting companies that we often recommend to beginners. If you decide to go down the rabbit hole and really learn the ropes of hosting beyond what’s necessary to operate a site, you can definitely try out some other options that are more complex, but just starting out? We’re much rather see you start with something simple instead of biting off a lot more than you can chew. Not that you couldn’t learn and do it, but for your first site, it just makes a lot more sense to learn something that’s much easier rather than something more complex.
Other hosts are geared towards more experienced people who have spent a lot of time studying how to manage servers on their own, which is awesome and there are benefits to that too, but once again, just for starting out, it’s kind of overkill to learn how to manage your own server from scratch instead of getting one that’s already setup and ready to go.
Choosing a Host: Which one is the BEST?
For people who are starting out, we strongly recommend going with Managed Hosting, which means that the hosting company is going to help you through the whole process, and they’re going to manage your server for you which includes routine tasks like keeping the software on the server up to date, and takin steps to prevent any malicious attacks.
Bluehost is one hosting company, in particular, that is geared towards people who have never launched a website before. They’ll help you with the entire process from start to finish, and their staff are also super helpful along the way. They have setup wizards that make it a breeze, tons of documentation, and once again, a staff of experts who are there to help you with everything you could possibly imagine. We have reviewed them in-depth and determined that they’re the absolute best option for anyone who is just starting out, but also super convenient and flexible for larger websites and more experienced users.
We’ve very recently tested out the Bluehost onboarding process, from landing on their homepage to processing your order to having your site up and running, and they’ve got the easier system out there. It couldn’t be any more straight forward to start from scratch, to having your site online. It only takes a matter of minutes, and Bluehost has a whole custom process based on years and years of being in the industry, they’ve taken out any of the more confusing aspects of setting up hosting and just simplified everything so it couldn’t be easier.
Bluehost isn’t the only option, there are plenty of great shared hosts out there. Bluehost, however, is the most highly recommended host by WordPress.org, the leading platform/software for creating websites, so they’re clearly doing something right.
Bluehost even pays some of their staff to actively work on the WordPress open-source project, to make it better, and to ensure that it meshes with Bluehost perfectly. Managed shared hosting is a great place to start for most sites, however if your site is going to be busier right out of the gate, you might want to consider a Managed VPS instead. If you’re not really sure what you need, check out the basic plans from Bluehost as a starting point, and as your site grows and you need more resources, they’ll be able to help you upgrade on the fly as needed.