What is website hosting and how it works ?

If you are serious about setting up a business or professional website then you might come across a term called web hosting. Web hosting can be really confusing as different websites explain this in a different way.

What is a Website?

First of all lets understand what is a website. A website in very simple terms is nothing but a collection of web pages. Now these web pages are obviously on a computer which is switched ON.

For example, Have you ever thought about How you visit Google.com and its always there. When you visit Google.com a web page is displayed to you. This web page is located on a computer. And you can visit it anytime and it will be available because the computer on which this web page is located is running 24/7.

This computer which contains the files and folders of the website is called the Server of that particular website. Why it is called a server? Because it simply serves the files to anyone who visits the website address.

The website address (example: www.codefap.com) allows you to visit the computer(server) which has the website files and folders. This website address is also called domain name.

But then who is a web host? And what is web hosting?

The company who will manage the server, protect it from attacks, keep it cool, make sure its running 24/7 – is called a web host. And the service its providing is called web hosting. Because it is simply hosting your files on their computer.

So we have defined the following terms:

  • Website
  • Server
  • Website Address/Domain Name
  • Web Host
  • Web Hosting

But there is one thing missing, which is the DNS (Domain Name Server or Domain Name System). Name Servers are the most confusing part of web hosting.

What is DNS ?

I previously said that when you visit a website address (domain), it takes you to the computer which has the website files and folders. But do you know how computers communicate? They don’t have names. But what they have is an IP (Internet Protocol) Address.

So basically a computer has an IP address. To access a particular computer on the internet, we have to visit the IP address of that computer.

Lets understand with an example, When you visit google.com, it is directing you to the computer which has the web page. That’s right. But google is not the name of the computer. The actual name of the computer is is an IP address of the computer which contains web pages of Google.

So if you Visit then you will be taken to Google’s website. And a person or middleman is required to convert the domain into the IP address. This job is done by DNS.

Why we need DNS ?

1. Multiple websites are often hosted on one IP address (one computer). The domain name is what tells the server which website the user wants to view. If we only used IP addresses, we’d be limited to just one website per IP address (one computer).

2. Obviously we’d also lose our minds if we had to keep track of the IP address for every website we frequently visit!

Summing it up – How it works ?

When you visit a website address or domain, DNS will resolve it into an IP address (will find the computer). Also if multiple websites are hosted on the same IP address (same computer), then the DNS will figure out which website you are searching for. And thus will direct you to that particular website folder which has the website files.

These files will be served to you by the server (the computer which has these files) and will open in your web browser. Whatever you will be viewing after all this process is called the website.