How does web hosting work?
We all use websites on a daily basis, but have you ever stopped to consider the process that keeps each website online and accessible?
When a website is created, it also has to be hosted. This is the process of making each page on the site publicly accessible over the internet, enabling anyone to enter the web address and view its contents. Just as print adverts would simply be graphic design documents on a computer’s hard drive if they weren’t published in a magazine or newspaper, websites would be a series of offline code fragments without a web hosting company agreeing to host them.
This process typically involves a firm of IT specialists with lots of servers – empty and partitioned computer hard drives – allocating portions of this storage space to the HTML files containing website data and details on how it should be presented. The server company also sets aside a portion of its internet bandwidth, which enables these files to be piped almost instantly to the terminal of anyone who enters the website address. By increasing the available bandwidth in real-time response to demand, the hosting company ensures thousands of individual users can view the site’s pages at once without any annoying delays.
The hosting company’s third key role is to ensure that the website’s formal address (a lengthy string of numbers punctuated by full stops) is linked to the English-language address we type into our browser bars. After all, it’s much easier to remember www.google.co.uk than 188.8.131.52, even though the former simply acts as human shorthand for the latter. Converting a typed website name into its internet protocol (or IP) address is a crucial service that web hosting companies provide free of charge on behalf of their clients.
A web hosting company will typically offer one-year contracts to its customers, confirming their site will be live and visible anywhere in the world during this period. Low monthly charges reflect the economies of scale achievable by hosting hundreds of individual websites at once, while the servers used to handle all this data are stored in a series of secure warehouse facilities known as data centres. Regular backups and high-speed connections guarantee the contents will remain accessible even if something goes badly wrong at one data centre, and each server is heavily protected against data theft or viruses with cutting-edge technology and the very latest software updates.
As well as hosting websites, companies like UK2 can even help you to create them. All you need is some text and images, and ideally a company name and logo. We have over a hundred stylish templates that can be tailored around your own content, and which can be adjusted at any time using a content management system (or CMS). Each account comes with a free matching email address, while the technical process of hosting the site is all handled automatically; making it live involves nothing more than clicking a button.
Some people are keen to create a WordPress website, which offers huge scope for customisation thanks to thousands of dedicated micro-programs. These plugins all do specific jobs, such as linking social media accounts to the website or enabling customers to pay for goods through an ecommerce checkout. Just like other websites, WordPress sites can also be endlessly tweaked and refined, with round-the-clock technical support and personalised website addresses – including a wide choice of suffixes from the classic .co.uk and .com through to .me and .biz. Whatever you’re looking for, UK2 can make it happen.