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If you are planning to launch a blog, a website or an eCommerce you will surely have heard of web hosting, the essential and essential element to bring your project online.
In this article you will find an overview of all the information relating to the web world: what hosting is and how it works, a comparison of all types of shared and dedicated hosting, what features a web hosting must have and how to manage the chosen hosting plan .
What is a web hosting
The term web hosting refers to the space hosted on a server where the data necessary for viewing the website can be saved. The amount of space available will vary according to the chosen hosting solution which, in general, can be shared or dedicated.
All the elements that make up the website are hosted within the hosting space, such as pages, files, images and the database used to create the site itself.
When a user wants to view your website, he will simply type your domain name into the browser and the computer will send a request to the server that contains your website files and will redirect the user to the site he wants to visit.
How web hosting works
The first step in building a website is to find a hosting provider that provides you with the necessary server space to host your database. This will have the task, first of all, of recommending the best solution based on the needs of your web project. Furthermore, he will be responsible for the functioning of the server hosting the web space (with the database, resources and much more), taking care to keep the server always up-to-date and in good condition, both in terms of performance and security.
Obviously, there are different types of web hosting, from shared ones to dedicated solutions: in the case of shared hosting, the provider will have to provide a good part of the management of the service; on the contrary, a dedicated space will require greater technical skills and greater responsibility on the part of the user.
In addition to the web space, the hosting provider also provides a series of services closely related to website management: let’s analyze the main ones.
Hosting is not enough to create a website: you also need the domain, i.e. the name of the website itself that users type into the address bar to access your content by sending a request to the Domain Name System (DNS), the server.
Each website has a unique domain name and, at Shellrent, we include free registration with the purchase of web space. This can save money, but also save time in managing your web project.
Hosting providers often include the SSL certificate in each hosting solution, which is necessary to apply the secure HTTPS protocol to web pages instead of http, also showing the padlock in the URL bar. Using the SSL protocol is considered practically mandatory since Google started marking sites that don’t have it as unsafe.
The SSL certificate offers an encrypted and authenticated connection, protecting sensitive user data and online transactions. The secondary effects should also be considered: first of all, the best SEO positioning since Google prefers sites with SSL. Also, increased trust from visitors who perceive the site as safe.
There are free SSL certificates such as Let’s Encrypt, and paid SSL certificates: while both implement the SSL protocol, they differ in some respects.
Validity: Let’s Encrypt has a duration of 90 days while a paid SSL certificate usually lasts 1 year. This is an important advantage because it allows you to feel comfortable, without having to resort to continuous replacements.
Validation: Paid SSL certificates often include verification by the website owner, making sure they actually match.
Domain type: The paid SSL solutions are not limited to single certificates but also offer cross-domain certificates that are certainly very useful.
Technical support: Let’s Encrypt does not offer any support in case of problems, unlike paid SSL certificates. In the latter case, in fact, you can contact your supplier for any eventuality.
Installing software and CMS
Many users use software and CMS to manage the site and its contents: think for example of WordPress, the most used content management system worldwide. That’s why it is useful for the relative installation to be fast, better if it can be performed in a simple click.
Backup is one of the essential strategies to respond to unexpected events or problems. We know that in an increasingly digital context, web operations run fast: that’s why Shellrent’s hosting plans include a weekly backup.
Of course, the additional backup options must not be missing: daily, monthly, for the web, for emails and so on, with the aim of customizing each solution as much as possible by defining an adequate level of protection for each business tool.
Using FTP client with hosting
The FTP protocol (File Transfer Protocol) is used in the web world for data transfer based on a client-server system to upload and move files within the directories of your hosting.
In order for the transfer system to work correctly, an FTP client is required through which you can easily manage file uploads and downloads, also using drag&drop methods.
Through port 21 the client sends commands to the server which in turn replies with status codes. Thanks to the remote connection, you can view two windows at the same time: on one side, the files and folders present locally on the PC, on the other, the files and folders present on the remote server.
Here you can simply drag the files to be uploaded to the remote server, into the appropriate folder, and release them to start the upload.
How to set up an FTP client
Basically, the configuration of an FTP client varies according to the chosen client; in principle, however, there are some settings that the main clients have in common.
Host/Hostname: this is the FTP address communicated by the provider. It often coincides with the domain name or with the IP address.
Port: usually the connection port used by default is number 21.
Username and password: these are the credentials communicated by the provider during activation that you will need to use to access the service.
Differences between domain, web hosting and website
To work properly, a website needs 3 aspects:
Must be reachable through the domain.
The domain relies on a server/hosting.
The server hosts the files that make up the website itself.
We can better understand the correlation between these elements thanks to a simple metaphor. Let’s imagine the domain as a telephone directory: the computers on the network communicate with each other through numbers, i.e. IP addresses, exactly as we use the telephone number to call a person and, if we want to find a third party or be found, the number must be in the list.
If the telephone number A corresponds to the company B on the list, then domain A is also hosted on server B. If the domain did not perform this operation, to visit a website we would have to enter the Server IP, a 12-digit string much harder to remember than a simple domain name (think for example of shellrent.com)
Web hosting can instead be compared to a land that we rent: it includes nothing more than the land itself. Similarly, web hosting does not automatically include a website but represents a simple space to fill, to “furnish”. We can therefore define hosting as the space in which to host our website or web application.
How to decorate our space? With files and contents: each has its own extension, for example .php or .html. The server reads these files which contain instructions on how to view web pages and makes them accessible and navigable to users.
What are the different types of web hosting
Almost all hosting providers, including Shellrent, offer various web hosting solutions so that the user can choose the ideal option based on the project he intends to implement: for example, an eCommerce portal with 10,000 products will certainly require a web space with greater resources than a showcase site.
Obviously, each type of hosting has certain characteristics and advantages that must be taken into consideration for the project to be carried out.
Shared Hosting or Shared Hosting
Shared web hosting is probably the most common form of hosting.
In this case, the provider will manage the web space which will be shared with other users, each with their own unique domain but all located within the same server, and therefore with the same IP address.
The web servers are pre-configured and equipped with advanced features to allow certain performances also in terms of security of all the projects involved which, while sharing resources, have autonomous management of contents and files.
Shared web hosting is ideal for simple websites with moderate traffic, which do not require excessive autonomy and resources. It is the perfect starting point for a new web project: the shared space allows you to initially save money and, at the same time, to understand the limits and potential of your project: in this way it will be easier to decide which solution to focus on for each project well underway.
Pros and Cons of Shared Web Hosting
Almost complete management of hosting by the provider
Web server pre-configured and kept updated with the latest features
Server space and resources shared with other users
Increased risk of spam caused by other websites within the server
Possibility of slowed down website in case of traffic peaks
VPS hosting (Virtual Private Server Hosting) indicates a physical server divided between multiple virtual spaces used to host individual websites. Even if the host supports multiple websites and therefore you share the same server with multiple users, you still have an exclusive partition for you, with the related resources, a bit like a dedicated solution.
The VPS solution is often indicated as an intermediate between shared hosting and dedicated solutions, a sort of springboard: in fact, with the right technical skills it is possible to customize the VPS according to the needs of the project.
Pros and Cons of VPS Hosting
Dedicated hosting space
Better performance because server traffic peaks won’t affect your web space
Greater customization and autonomy
Technical skills required to manage your server quota
The advent of cloud technology has introduced a new type of hosting onto the market: Cloud Hosting. This solution is designed to host single web projects and operates on several interconnected servers that provide a scalable infrastructure.
Working in the cloud, in fact, in the event of problems, the traffic is automatically moved to a different cloud, reducing downtime and keeping performance unchanged.
Pros and Cons of Cloud Hosting
Reducing the likelihood of downtime
Autonomous management of resources
Root access is not always provided
Dedicated hosting provides an entire server, precisely dedicated to a single customer who will have access as an administrator and will be able to manage it independently, controlling every aspect relating to configuration and operation.
Due to the high cost and the necessary technical skills for its management, it is a recommended solution for large companies that need a lot of disk space and can take care of the server completely.
Pros and cons of Dedicated Hosting
Maximum control over server management and configuration
Root access to your server
Space dedicated exclusively to your web project
Higher cost than other solutions
Technical skills required for server management
eCommerce Hosting responds to a solution that integrates the ideal features for creating online stores.
eCommerce hosting, for example, comes enhanced with advanced sales features like inventory management and payment processing.
Most hosting providers include advanced features for eCommerce within each plan, both to help the user choose the best hosting, and to offer a high-performance product in an increasingly online business-oriented context.
Pros and Cons of eCommerce Hosting
Additional sales features
Resources designed for eCommerce
Root access is not always provided
Space shared with other users
Discover PrestaShop Hosting
Hosting for CMSs
CMS are content management systems thanks to which it is possible to manage web projects easily and intuitively. Among the most common platforms we find WordPress, PrestaShop, Joomla and Magento.
CMS hosting is designed to offer maximum compatibility and secure and complete management with WordPress and other CMSs. The web space is usually supplied with the CMS already pre-installed to facilitate its configuration and often also with the main plugins recommended for each platform.
Pros and cons of hosting for CMS
Reduced cost as it is a shared solution
CMS already pre-installed and ready in a simple click
SSD disks for greater speed
Root access is not always provided
Space shared with other users
Check out WordPress Hosting
Reseller Hosting, or Hosting for resellers, is the last solution we want to explore: hosting providers often offer plans specifically designed for resellers who want to independently manage the web space and, in fact, resell it to customers.
Shellrent has also structured a Reseller Program, which provides dedicated and increasing discounts based on the level. Resellers, for example, will be able to purchase hosting plans and all web services at an advantageous price and resell them autonomously, using a management interface in white-label mode. This means that you can personalize the dashboard with your name, company logo and URL.
Pros and Cons of Reseller Hosting
They often offer SSD drives for increased speed
Resources to be assigned to customers as needed
Root access is not always provided
Limit on plans due to disk space
The term Multisite Hosting indicates a service capable of hosting multiple websites within it using a single hosting package. It is an interesting solution especially from an operational point of view, as it will be possible to manage different websites from the same control panel.
The strengths are obvious but, in choosing the plan, you must also pay attention to the resources offered such as the available space, the presence of a dedicated IP, backup solutions and so on.
Pros and Cons of Multisite Hosting
Fast management of multiple web projects from a single panel
Root access is not always provided
Beware of resources
Essential characteristics of a hosting
Each web hosting solution has very specific characteristics but, in general, there are some common elements that must be considered when choosing.
The price is a variable element in relation to the chosen web hosting plan, based on the resources offered and the features. Our offer has a starting price of €19/year, reaching €169/year as resources increase. This last price refers to our Enterprise plan, ideal for structured web projects.
If you intend to build your site with a limited initial budget, don’t worry: hostings are scalable and, when your website requires more resources, you can upgrade to the next plan.
Bandwidth refers to the number of bytes needed to transfer your site’s information to your visitors when they type your address into the search bar.
The bandwidth requirement varies according to the project: in fact, an eCommerce with thousands of visitors will have greater needs than a small showcase site. Typically businesses start with a relatively low amount of bandwidth and then increase it over time as the number of visitors increases.
Among the first characteristics that those approaching the web world look for in a hosting solution we certainly find the loading speed. This factor affects both the SEO positioning of the site in search engines and the user’s browsing experience.
Scalability is one of the main advantages to better manage the resources of a web project, a useful feature especially for cloud solutions. This concept allows those who buy a cloud service to scale resources according to their needs, for example by efficiently managing the increase in online traffic. There are two distinct types of scalability:
Horizontal scalability: modify the IT infrastructure by adding other machines to the server already in use. This operation requires time to prepare and configure the new machines.
Vertical scalability: allows you to make the server more powerful and performing by adding hardware resources such as CPU, RAM and disk space. Unlike horizontal scalability, vertical scalability does not provide for downtime because the upgrade takes place quickly and is especially useful for managing traffic peaks at certain times of the year: for example during Black Friday or Christmas when eCommerce portals record an increase in traffic.
Uptime and downtime
The level of uptime and downtime of web hosting should also be considered because a site that is not online will cause you to lose traffic, customers and turnover.
Reliability is in fact a relevant factor and usually the parameter improves when moving from shared solutions to dedicated solutions.
As for the bandwidth, the storage space also varies according to the web service chosen: if you need more space, it will be better to move towards dedicated solutions in which all the resources will be at your complete disposal and you will be able to manage them independently, unlike a shared hosting solution.
SSD disks are solid state drives that replace traditional hard disks. They are often chosen by providers because they guarantee greater data writing and reading speed and, thanks to a solid-state memory chip, it will be possible to keep data even when the computer is turned off, decreasing the chances of downtime.
Personalized email boxes with the domain name are a symbol of professionalism: each hosting package offers a variable number of email accounts and it is a value that we advise you to take into consideration, especially in the case of a growing business.
Support and assistance
Unless you are a programmer or an expert system administrator, you may need to ask for assistance in case of problems. In this sense, Shellrent sets itself a precise objective: that of ensuring its customers precise and timely support. For this purpose, you can request technical and commercial assistance via ticket or telephone and you can take advantage of two solutions to receive priority management of your requests and a specific analysis of your CMS: Assistance Plus and Web Genius.
The hosting market is very competitive and it is likely that, when comparing the basic features of the same plan, they are similar between the various providers. What matters to make the difference are therefore the additional services to be combined with each solution.
How to make the hosting solution more performing thanks to additional services
The additional services are real life savers because they allow you to improve the functionality both in the case of shared solutions and in the case of dedicated solutions.
Examples of additional services for shared hosting can be: additional backups for web and mail, additional mail space, real-time antivirus protection, dedicated IP and disaster recovery solutions.
Examples of additional services for Cloud Servers can be: daily backup, storage solutions, advanced backup and disaster recovery strategies, Plesk and Microsoft licenses.
Which management panel to use?
The Plesk panel has a pleasant and complete graphic interface, combining simple and intuitive service management, even if you do not have particular technical or IT skills. It adapts perfectly to Windows, Linux Debian, Linux Centos and similar platforms and is a panel that is constantly updated.
Plesk licenses have low prices that vary according to the number of domains and services to be hosted.
cPanel is the main alternative to the Plesk panel which offers the management of unlimited domains on the server where it is installed at a much higher cost than Plesk.
The admin interface is complete and allows you to perform any function without necessarily having access via SSH while the end user has a less complete but still intuitive panel available.
Shellrent manager panel
The Manager Control Panel is an area made available to all Shellrent customers, through which to manage all services such as domains, web hosting, Cloud Servers, PEC mailboxes and much more from a single comfortable and intuitive interface.
Among the advantages of the Manager Panel:
Place purchase and renewal orders in a few simple clicks;
Manage the DNS and nameservers of a domain;
Upgrade your services, increasing resources;
Access FTP data:
Manage MySQL database with phpMyAdmin;
View and download all invoices;
Analyze statistics on services and resources used;
Open support tickets to be supported by our team.
The Manager Panel is also perfect for Reseller customers who will be able to manage their customers’ sites directly from a single interface, with the possibility of creating dedicated accesses for end customers. For Resellers, as mentioned above, the Manager Panel will be provided in white label mode to offer the opportunity to customize URLs, logos, colors, footers to give exclusive visibility to your brand.
Website creation: how to choose between HTML, CMS and Site Builder
A website can be created in different ways, first of all by choosing between a static website, using HTML code, and a dynamic website, using CMS or Site Builders.
A static website is made up of web pages in .html format which are manually updated using specialized software and then uploaded online using FTP clients such as FileZilla.
A static site obviously has strengths and weaknesses. Among the positive aspects we certainly find the greater security as the html code is more difficult to pierce; on the contrary, the weakness concerns the difficulty of updating the web pages, both for the long times and for the skills necessary in the field of web development.
Dynamic websites undoubtedly represent a more evolved form as all website contents such as pages or images are found within a database and are stored in tables queried through a programming language that connect them to the site.
The main strength of a dynamic website certainly lies in speed: updating the site will be simpler and more immediate, with greater fluidity in the operation.
Dynamic websites have taken over thanks to the development of CMS, content management systems that allow you to create pages, upload multimedia content and generally manage the site more immediately, without the need for particular technical skills.
An alternative to CMS are the Site Builders, advanced editors that allow you to create an orderly and SEO-optimized website thanks to the wide customization options.
How to improve the speed of a website?
To improve the performance of your website, you could activate a CDN (Content Delivery Network), or take advantage of a content caching system through a network of servers located globally which have the task of redistributing them locally.
Thanks to our partnership with one of the most popular CDNs, our customers have the ability to activate Cloudflare in just one click from the Manager panel.
What are the benefits of a CDN like Cloudflare?
Improved website loading time: Thanks to local redistribution, requests for content will be processed with the same speed everywhere in the world.
Less load on the server: it will be possible to manage many more users at the same time.
Higher security: offers a system of identification of threats, bots and malware to preemptively block any attacks.
DDoS Attack Protection: Huge bandwidth available to resist massive attacks.
The TTFB (Time To First Byte) measures the time it takes for the browser to receive the first byte of data from the server and, in essence, determines the level of responsiveness of a web server or other network resources which translates into the time required to view the page.
Google PageSpeed Insight recommends keeping TTFB around 100ms.
Last but not least: the web hosting glossary, useful terms to know
There are some terms that anyone approaching the world of hosting or the web in general should know. Here are in simple words those terms that you will hear most frequently.
DNS (Domain Name System) is the term used to indicate the system that translates, through queries, domain names into IP addresses and returns the desired website. It is essentially the tool that allows you to type, for example, www.site.com instead of a long string of numbers.
The Internet Protocol (IP) address is a numeric string that uniquely identifies the website. If users will type the domain name on the search engine, the machines will find the website by the IP address.
Uptime and Downtime
The term uptime indicates the period of time in which a server is online and works continuously at maximum efficiency, making the websites hosted within it accessible and navigable.
On the contrary we find the downtime, which indicates the interval of time in which a service is not operational due to breakdowns, maintenance or other.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is the protocol used to hold and transfer data and content on a client-server system. To get in touch with the server you need a client like FileZilla to perform file upload and download operations, file deletion or naming, creation of new folders and directory browsing.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is a type of encryption that allows a secure connection between client-server and between users-browser in order to protect the transmitted information. For example, in an eCommerce that involves transactions, an SSL certificate must be applied to ensure secure handling of payments. To understand if a site is protected by SSL, just check for the presence of the padlock in the address bar: if it does not appear, the browser will likely notify the user of the “not secure” warning, to make him aware of the lack of an adequate protection while browsing.
Operation is very simple: during a data communication between client server and web server, the latter sends its digital certificate to the browser which verifies its validity and, if positive, starts the secure connection.
The database, often referred to as DB by those who work in the sector, is a real database, used to archive content and information in a structured way.
MySQL is the leading Open Source relational database management system, usually bundled with Linux hosting.
HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is a markup language used to define the structure of a web page. It is often combined with CSS.
The 301 redirect indicates that the content has been moved permanently: the request is then redirected to the new URL.
The 404 error means that the file or content has been permanently removed and therefore no longer matches your search.
The 502 Bad Gateway error identifies the invalid response from the server. Generally, when a server is overloaded or victim of a DDoS attack, it has no more memory available to view the web page and, for this reason, it will return the 502 error.
Acronym of Distributed Denial of Service, the DDoS attack is conducted with the aim of making a website unreachable, flooding the server with connection requests.
CMS (Content Management System) indicates a generic software that supports users in creating, modifying and managing the contents of a website, especially for those who do not have advanced programming skills. The most popular example is WordPress, which with its very intuitive interface allows you to manage every aspect of the website, customizing it based on your preferences.
Crawlers are automatic scripts that periodically scan the various contents on the web with the aim of providing the user with updated information, creating a well-organized content structure on search engines.
We hope that this article will help you to better orient yourself in the chaos of information on the subject of web hosting: discover our range of services in detail, comparing shared and dedicated solutions, each designed ad hoc to guarantee reliability and performance for your web project elevated.