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Understanding Web Hosting: A Complete Guide

Three apples on top of a stack of books.
  • May 15, 2024
  • 0
  • by A2 Marketing Team

IT professionals aren’t the only ones who need to have an in-depth knowledge of web hosting. It’s essential for anyone who wants to establish an online presence, be it launching a website or optimizing an existing one. 

But if you’re new to web hosting, it can be confusing to know where to start. Understanding the basic principles of web hosting, the different types of hosting available, and what to look for in a solid web hosting provider can make it easier for you to decide what setup is best for your personal or business needs. 

This article takes you through all these concepts and serves as your introductory guide to web hosting. Let’s get started!  

What is Web Hosting? 

Web hosting is a service that lets individuals and organizations publish their websites or web pages on the Internet. A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the tools and support needed to make your website accessible online. Here’s a breakdown of the web hosting process: 

Infographic showing computer, server and laptop

Web Hosting Process

Hosting Basics

  • Your website is hosted on special computers called servers. 
  • When you choose a web host, they provide space on their servers for your website.

Services Provided by Web Hosts

  • Web hosts offer data center space to keep servers running smoothly. 
  • They provide connectivity to the Internet for other servers located in their data centers.

Website Access

  • When someone wants to visit your website, they’ll need to type your website address into their browser.
  • Their computer will connect to your server. 
  • Your web pages will be delivered to them through their browser.


But web hosting is more than just providing space on a server. It helps ensure that your website is secure, reliable, and can be accessed quickly by visitors. Good web hosts offer varying levels of support and additional services to help you manage your website.

For example, A2 Hosting offers various hosting solutions to meet every need, from small personal blogs to large business sites. With our commitment to fast and reliable hosting, a 99.9% uptime guarantee, round-the-clock technical support, and free website migrations, you can rest assured knowing your online presence is in good hands.

What’s the Difference Between Self-Hosting and a Hosting Provider? 

Self-hosting means using your own hardware and infrastructure to host a website, whereas if you use a hosting provider, you’ll rent server space and resources from a specialized service. 

Self-hosting requires a higher level of technical expertise, including server management, security protocols, and hardware maintenance. This can be challenging for people without the necessary skills or resources.

On the other hand, hosting providers, like A2 Hosting, offer user-friendly tools and support, making website management easy. For instance, if you own a small business, we can help you enhance your online visibility and SEO rankings by ensuring your website is secure, loads quickly, and has ample storage capacity.

If cost is a concern, keep in mind that self-hosting can be more expensive due to the initial investment in equipment, electricity, and Internet bandwidth. Hosting providers charge predictable monthly or annual fees, making it easier to budget for your website’s hosting costs. 

Deciphering Web Hosting Features

To help you choose the right web hosting solutions for your website, let’s break down the key features of web hosting: 

Understanding Server Resources: RAM, Hard Drive Space, and Bandwidth

Random Access Memory (RAM), hard drive space, and bandwidth keep your website running smoothly. 

RAM affects the speed and load time of your website. The more RAM available, the faster your website can process requests. 

Meanwhile, you need hard drive space for storing your website’s content, including images, videos, and documents. There are different types of storage available, including: 

  • Solid State Drive (SSD): SSDs are faster and more reliable than traditional hard drives. With A2 Hosting’s Dedicated Server Hosting plans, you get up to 2×1 TB SSD storage, which means you get two 1 TB SSDs instead of one 2 TB SSD. This setup can result in faster speeds due to the use of two controllers for reading and writing data.
  • Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe): NVMe is an even faster type of SSD storage that offers quicker load times, better performance, and improved user experiences. A2 Hosting offers up to 2×1 TB NVMe M.2 SSD Storage on our Dedicated Server Turbo Hosting plans, ensuring lightning-fast data access. 

Bandwidth refers to the amount of data your website can transfer at a time. It impacts your website’s traffic capacity. The more bandwidth you have, the more visitors can access your website simultaneously without slowing down the performance.

A2 Hosting is a great example of how resources can scale across plans. For instance, our lowest Shared Web Hosting plan offers 100 GB of SSD storage, while the next tier provides unlimited SSD storage. This scalability allows you to choose a plan that fits your needs and budget.

How Control Panels Make it Easier to Manage Your Website

Control panels offer a user-friendly interface that simplifies the process of managing servers and hosted services. With a control panel, you can easily manage files, set up email accounts, install applications, and monitor server resource usage.

Control panels come in various forms, each having unique features and modules. Popular control panels include cPanel, Plesk, and My20i. Each one offers a slightly different user experience, so be sure to choose one that fits your needs.


screenshot of cpanel home page

cPanel Homepage

For instance, A2 Hosting offers cPanel on all managed hosting plans. On unmanaged plans, users can include any control panel they wish. This variety ensures you can pick the control panel that works best for you, whether you prefer a specific interface or need certain features for your website.

Web Hosting and Domains: Understanding the Relationship

Web hosting and domain names are two essential components of a fully operational website. A domain name serves as your website’s unique address, while web hosting is the space where your website’s files are stored and made accessible to visitors.

When you register a domain name, you’re claiming a spot on the Internet for your website. To bring your website to life, you need to link it to a web host, which will store and manage your website’s files.

Good web hosts simplify this process by offering domain registration services directly through their platform or allowing you to migrate your existing domain to their hosting service. This approach ensures a smooth website management experience, as you can manage your domain and web hosting from a single location.

Maximizing Site Performance: Why Server Location Matters

The physical location of your website’s server can significantly impact load times and overall user experience.

When a user visits your website, their computer sends a request to your server to access your website’s files. The further away the server is, the longer it takes for the request to travel, resulting in slower load times.

By choosing a server location that’s close to your website’s predominant visitor base, you can ensure your website’s files are delivered quickly and efficiently, resulting in faster load times and a better user experience.

Security Considerations and the Importance of SSL Certificates

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates are important for keeping your website safe and secure. By encrypting the data that travels between your website and its visitors, these certificates protect sensitive information like passwords and credit card numbers from cyber criminals.

When you have an SSL certificate installed on your website, visitors will see a padlock icon in their browser’s address bar, indicating that the connection is secure. 


SSL certificate example. Shows details for settings, cookies, and site data

A2 Hosting SSL Certificate

This helps build trust with your visitors, making them more likely to stay on your site. Websites with SSL certificates can also receive better rankings on search engine results pages.


“Security is a top priority for any website, and SSL certificates are just one piece of the puzzle. Active defenses such as Network Firewalls, Web Application Firewalls (WAF), Vulnerability Scanners, and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) mitigation services are also essential for protecting your website from the myriad array of modern threats. By taking a comprehensive approach to website security, you can ensure that your site remains safe and secure for your visitors.”

– Sam Florida, Senior Security Engineer at A2 Hosting


At A2 Hosting, we offer free and easy SSL certificate installations as part of our hosting packages, with the option to upgrade your certificate as necessary. Whether you’re running a small blog or a high-traffic eCommerce site, we have the security features you need to keep your website safe and secure.

Round-the-Clock Support

A good hosting provider should be there for you whenever you need help, whether in the middle of the night or on a Sunday afternoon. 

At A2 Hosting, we offer 24/7/365 support to ensure you get the help you need right when you need it. Our knowledgeable support staff is always available to answer your questions, troubleshoot any issues, and help you get the most out of your hosting experience.

We offer various support options, including live chat, phone, and email support, to make it easy to get in touch with us. 

Types of Web Hosting

With so many different types of web hosting solutions available, it can be intimidating to know which one is right for you. Here are the most popular types of web hosting and their definitions

Shared Hosting

Shared web hosting is a cost-effective solution for website owners, where multiple websites share the same server resources, such as storage space, processing power, and memory. This setup allows hosting providers to offer affordable plans, making it ideal for small websites and beginners.

Personal blogs, startups with low traffic, and small businesses looking to create an initial web presence are just a few examples of those who can benefit from shared hosting. 

A2 Hosting’s Shared Hosting options are cost-effective, fast, and reliable. The plans come with a range of perks, including cPanel integration, free SSL certificates, free account migration, a 99.9% uptime commitment, and 24/7/365 in-house Guru Crew support. Our shared web hosting packages also include resources like disk space, data transfer, and email accounts that are perfect for personal and small business websites.

preview of Shared web hosting page on A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting Shared Web Hosting Page

While shared hosting offers numerous benefits, beware of potential limitations. Sometimes, users might find they have less control over server settings, and website performance could take a hit due to shared resources. But don’t worry – A2 Hosting has a solution to address these concerns. 

Our Turbo plans, which are built on powerful LiteSpeed servers, provide lightning-fast web hosting experiences, even with multiple websites sharing the same server. That means better SEO rankings, lower bounce rates, and higher conversion rates.

VPS Hosting

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting provides enhanced security and ample resources compared to shared hosting. Within a VPS environment, users benefit from a virtual dedicated server setup, resulting in superior performance and extensive customization options.

This hosting solution is particularly useful for businesses with higher traffic levels or those who need to run special software that isn’t supported on shared servers. 


A2 Hosting VPS Hosting Page


A2 Hosting’s VPS Hosting plans are the perfect solution if you need more power and flexibility than a shared hosting account but still want an affordable hosting solution. We offer scalable plans that grow with your site, so you can upgrade as needed. 

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated server hosting is a web hosting service where a single user or organization gets an entire server and all its resources. This setup gives you full control over the server, including the ability to choose the operating system, hardware, and other configurations.

Dedicated hosting is perfect for large eCommerce sites, busy news portals, and big business applications that need powerful server resources and top-notch performance. Security, control, and the ability to customize your server are the main benefits of dedicated hosting. But to get the most bang for your buck, you need to choose a high-performance hosting company. 

At A2 Hosting, we choose the best hardware, software, and network to ensure your site is performing at its peak. 


Preview of A2 Hosting's Dedicated Hosting page

A2 Hosting Dedicated Server Hosting Page


Our Dedicated Server offerings are the best choice for businesses with significant online operations. With top-tier hardware specs, including up to 10 TB transfer capacity, 2×1 TB NVMe M.2 SSD Storage, and 64 GB DDR4 EEC RAM, you’ll have the power you need for your demanding applications. 

We also offer optional root access for advanced users who want more control over their server environment. And, with 24/7 monitoring, you can rest easy knowing your server is in good hands. 

Platform-Specific Hosting

Platform-specific hosting is a tailored solution designed to optimize performance for specific content management systems or applications.

Take WordPress hosting, for example, which offers advantages like one-click installs, automatic updates, and specialized support. This type of hosting is ideal for bloggers, small businesses, and content creators who prefer ease of use and streamlined performance for their chosen platform.

Preview of A2 Hosting's managed WordPress page. Graphic of faster or it's free badge.

A2 Hosting Managed WordPress Hosting Page

A2 Hosting caters to this need through its Managed WordPress Hosting plans. These plans come with WordPress pre-installed and offer a suite of WordPress-specific features, including a dedicated TurboHub dashboard for building and managing your site and the A2 optimized plugin for caching and site performance enhancement. 

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is a flexible hosting solution that utilizes multiple servers to host a single website, ensuring greater scalability and reliability. This hosting option is ideal for websites with fluctuating traffic, app developers requiring scalable resources, and businesses seeking disaster recovery solutions.

Some of the key benefits of cloud hosting are its scalability options and the ease of resource management. The ability to adjust resources based on demand is a significant advantage for websites experiencing fluctuating traffic patterns. This flexibility ensures that high-traffic sites can handle sudden spikes in visitors without compromising on performance or experiencing downtime. 

For tech-savvy entrepreneurs, the ease of resource management in cloud hosting allows for efficient allocation and optimization of resources. This means they can fine-tune their hosting environment to meet specific needs, whether scaling up during peak periods or optimizing costs during quieter times.

Cloud hosting lends itself to high performance, but one major downside is that storing data in the cloud raises concerns about security and privacy. There’s always a risk of data breaches, hacking, or unauthorized access to sensitive information. With that in mind, if you want the performance of cloud hosting with better security, A2’s Turbo hosting plans are the best fit. 

Managed vs. Unmanaged Hosting

When considering VPS or dedicated hosting, it’s important to understand the differences between managed and unmanaged hosting options. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice ultimately depends on your technical expertise, business needs, and resources.

Managed hosting is a solution where the provider takes care of server maintenance, updates, security, and support. This option is well-suited for businesses that lack in-house technical expertise or prioritize convenience.


  • Expert technical support to help resolve issues quickly.
  • Regular security updates and monitoring to protect your website.
  • Time and resource savings that allow you to focus on your core business.


  • Higher costs compared to unmanaged hosting.
  • Less control over server configuration and customization.

Unmanaged hosting gives users complete control over server configuration and management. This option is preferred by developers, tech-savvy users, and those who require custom server setups.


  • Lower costs compared to managed hosting.
  • Full control over server configuration and customization.
  • Flexibility to install and manage applications as needed.


  • Increased responsibility for server setup, configuration, security, and updates.
  • Higher risk of security breaches due to a lack of professional oversight.
  • Limited support, requiring users to resolve technical issues independently.

Why Managed Hosting is Often the Better Choice 

While unmanaged hosting may seem appealing due to its lower costs and greater control, the drawbacks often outweigh the benefits for most users. The increased responsibility, higher security risks, and limited support can lead to significant challenges and costly downtime.

Managed hosting, on the other hand, provides expert support, enhanced security, and time savings, allowing you to focus on growing your business. With a managed hosting provider like A2 Hosting, you can trust that your website is in good hands, with optimized performance and reliable uptime.

At A2 Hosting, we specialize in providing top-notch managed hosting solutions for both VPS and dedicated servers. Our expert team is dedicated to ensuring your website runs smoothly, securely, and efficiently, giving you peace of mind and the freedom to concentrate on what matters most – your business.

Ready to Launch? Find Your Perfect A2 Hosting Plan Today

A2 Hosting Homepage

A2 Hosting Web Hosting Page 

Now that you’ve gained a thorough understanding of why web hosting matters, you’re just a step away from finding the perfect A2 Hosting plan for your needs! At A2 Hosting, we understand that every business is unique, and that’s why we offer a variety of plans to fit your specific requirements.

Our plans are designed to cater to all types of users, from small startups to big enterprises. If you’re looking for even more power, you’ll benefit from our Turbo plans, which use LiteSpeed web servers for a blazing-fast speed boost. The best part? Our Turbo plans are available for every type of hosting we offer. 

As your business grows, our plans can adapt to meet your changing needs. You can easily upgrade resources, such as CPU, RAM, and storage, to handle increased traffic and heavier workloads. 

Plus, with our 24/7/365 support, you’ll always have help when you need it. Whether you’re experiencing technical difficulties or simply need advice on optimizing your website, our friendly and knowledgeable support team will be on hand to provide assistance over live chat, phone, or email. 

Ready to take the first step towards launching your website? Get started with A2 Hosting today

What is Web Hosting? FAQs

What is website hosting? 

Website hosting is the service that makes your site accessible on the Internet. It’s like renting a space on a server to store your website’s files and data, allowing users worldwide to visit your site through their web browsers.

Does free web hosting exist? Is it recommended?

Yes, free web hosting is available, but it’s not always the best choice. Free hosting often comes with limitations, such as reduced storage, bandwidth, and features. It may also display ads on your site or limit your customization options. For businesses and serious websites, paid hosting is generally recommended for better performance and control.

What is a web hosting service?

A web hosting service is a company that provides the technology and infrastructure needed to store and serve your website’s files on the Internet. They offer various hosting plans, including shared, VPS, dedicated, and cloud hosting, each with various features and resources to suit different needs.

How much does it cost to host a website?

Website hosting costs can vary widely depending on the type of hosting, resources, and features you need. If you’re looking for an affordable start, A2 Hosting’s Shared Web Hosting plan kicks off at just $2.99 per month, offering a pocket-friendly option to get your site up and running.


For those needing more power, A2 Hosting’s VPS plans start at $35.99 per month, while Dedicated Server Hosting plans begin at $79.99 per month. Although these options are pricier than shared hosting, A2’s offerings are still a great value for the resources and capabilities you get.