To make your website visible on the Web, your website’s files and data must be physically stored on a computer that is connected to the Internet. These large, high-powered computers are called web servers.
Website hosts are companies that physically house several web servers in one location, or what is sometimes referred to as a data center. In addition to housing the web servers, website hosts provide the software, security, support, and bandwidth that connects your website to the Internet.
Think of a website hosting company like a shopping center that contains several individual stores. If you want to open a store at the shopping center, you can lease space in it and set up shop. Just like a shopping center, website hosting companies enable you to lease space on their web servers where you can store your website files and make them available for visitors to view on the Internet.
To accommodate a wide variety of websites and customer needs, there are a variety of hosting solutions.
Hosting solutions are broadly categorized based on the amount of server space you need for your website files, and the monthly amount of bandwidth your site consumes. Bandwidth refers to the amount of data being transferred or the amount of resource usage your website requires.
Consider your shop again; suppose you sell only handmade bracelets; you have a small, unique product offering, so you don’t need, nor want to, lease the same amount of space as a big department store.
Instead, you could lease a small kiosk in the shopping center that gives you just enough space for your goods and costs far less money.
Additionally, because you’re a small shop, you don’t need a lot of extra technology or staff to help you sell your product, like a department store requires.
Between you and your mobile payment device, you have plenty of “bandwidth” to take care of your customers and don’t buy extra technology or hire more employees. Make sense?
Beyond server space and bandwidth, there are other things to consider when selecting a hosting solution. Your budget, ease of use or complexity of solution; the level of flexibility or customization the solution allows; as well as privacy and security features.