(A home for website data)
If you could imagine all the websites and data within the internet as an infinitely large pile of physical books, then the web hosting services we use would be the libraries or the bookshops where those books can be stored, collected, organised, purchased, and accessed.
All websites contain data, and that data needs to be stored somewhere. This storage usually happens on a server, which is a piece of hardware (or sometimes software) that provides digital services for other devices. Web hosting services are crucial elements within the overall function of the internet: they provide the facilities to make a website appear on the World Wide Web. Web hosting providers are often called web hosts. There are different types of web hosting options.
For web hosting to take place, one or more servers are required to act as the hosts for the website. Servers are very often pieces of physical hardware that can look like a large collection of hard drives stacked together. (Servers can also be run through software via complex digital processes such as ‘hardware virtualisation’ and ‘physical-to-virtual transformation’. But we don’t really need to know about that stuff to fully understand hosting.)
Web hosting also requires space for the server, either in a data centre or a similar secure environment with reliable electricity and internet connectivity. If servers lose power or are switched off, then the hosting services they provide usually go down. For this reason, many of the leading web hosting services use servers with backup systems. These can be physical, like a backup generator in a data centre in case of a power cut. And they can be virtual, such as backup systems that use software to back up data stored on the server to cloud-computing services.
Without web hosting, the internet would not function at all as there would be nowhere for website data to be stored, and the World Wide Web would be nothing but a metaphorical ocean of disorganised and uncategorised books. Instead of a vast library of accessible information, without hosting the internet would become nothing more than a digital scrapyard.
At Modular, we believe anyone can understand how websites, apps, and other digital technologies work if we talk about tech in plain English. The core technologies that underpin the World Wide Web can actually be quite fascinating if we switch off the jargon, grab a cup of coffee, and take a closer look.
You can reach out to me for jargon busting chats on 07584 652854 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Emma Millington, Head of Customer Relations