We routinely need to explain to people that are looking for a new website what hosting is. We get questions like “Is there a monthly fee for my website with you guys?” Or “What is this thing I’m paying for with Company X?”
Hosting, in its simplest form, is the cost to rent space on someone else’s computer. Here’s how the internet works: Your computer/device connects to the internet via your service provider/data connection. That’s your computer talking to the world saying “show me something.” The “something,” you ask to see is the domain name (or URL) you type into your bar. Think facebook.com or google.com. When you tell your device to go to that URL, that’s like getting into your car and going to an address of a building. For instance, our office is at 12. N 8th street. However, that address is actually talking about a physical place. The address is a reference to the actual building.
In the exact same way, the URL you go to is referencing a bunch of files somewhere – a website. Your website is a compilation of files that interact with each other as specified in the code written in them. In order for you to see those files, you have to have a connection to them – that’s the internet. Those files have to be on a server (computer) somewhere that is both perpetually connected to the internet, and perpetually powered.
This is the reason why you shouldn’t have your website hosted on your own local server (for most small businesses), or why it’s probably not wise to let your sister’s boyfriend’s 2nd cousin who also builds websites host your site for you either. If that server loses internet or power, your website goes down.
That’s why you should always host with a company that is a dedicated hosting company – they have the infrastructure set up to make sure your website stays up all the time, with the absolute minimum in down time.
Hosting is paying rent to a company to use space on their servers that’s always available to others on the internet. There’s only so much space available on the hard drive of the server, just like you can only hold so many pictures on your phone. Once that space fills up, you have to get a larger device or remove unused content.
All hosting companies have a monthly or yearly cost to “rent” that space on their servers. That cost covers keeping your website up, and sometimes even includes maintenance/upgrades/basic security. The hosting company also becomes your point of contact should there be an issue with your website. Therefore, if you host with us, we at V3 remain your point of contact for your website. We built it, we understand it, so it’s to your benefit to have us around for continued support. Hosting accomplishes that.