What is hosting?

Daniel Weaver, a Developer at Infomedia, gives insight into the often puzzling world of hosting. Daniel begins by explaining that hosting is an action — a website is hosted with someone or some company, which means this entity houses your website. In other words, hosting is where a website lives physically, and someone has to manage the computers, or servers, that hold it. Daniel compares a hosting provider to an apartment building. A tenant pays a property manager to rent a space within an apartment building, and, similarly, someone pays a hosting provider for a space to hold a website. Sometimes, a host owns the servers that hold websites, and sometimes a host simply provides the access. Often, hosts purchase “virtual lots” on servers from someone else who owns the servers — so, a host may not own a physical machine but rather the time on the machine. This process is known as white labeling. Carrie and Daniel move on to discuss why it’s important to know who hosts your website. A hosting provider determines a number of factors, such as the speed of a website and how much traffic a website can handle. Free hosting providers often severely limit the bandwidth of a website, which is a factor to consider when deciding who you want to host your site. Some hosting providers may be much more involved and hands-on than others. The providers who are hands-on may be able to help in a variety of ways, from building a website to helping manage it to even assisting in the event of a hack. Finally, Daniel details the process for switching to a new hosting provider. The previous host typically hands over the website files, which can then be provided to the new host, and gives a timeframe for how quickly the site needs to move to the new host. The new host uses the files to transfer the site to their servers.

About Carrie

Carrie Rollwagen is host of the Localist podcast and cofounder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Currently, she works as Vice President of Strategic Planning at Infomedia, a web development company in Birmingham, Alabama. Find the Localist at @thinklocalist on Instagram and follow Carrie at @crollwagen.

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