What is a Web Server?


Web hosting companies rent you space on their servers, so you have somewhere to store your website. That’s about all most web hosting companies think you need to know about servers to make an informed decision about which hosting plan to choose. But if this is your first time looking into web hosting or creating a website, sometimes you need a bit more to go on.

That’s why we’ve created this easy-to-read, no fluff guide to help you understand exactly what you’re getting when you buy a web hosting package.

Let’s get started!

What is a server for?

web server

If you want to know what is a server, the first thing you need to know is that when someone says “server”, they could be talking about software, hardware, or hardware and software, working together.

The hardware is a powerful computer that stores the server software and all the files that a website needs to work (e.g., the HTML documents, JavaScript files, CSS stylesheets, videos and pictures).

The software includes all the things that make it possible for someone to type your website’s address into their browsers and bring up your website on their computer. This includes things like an HTTP server, which is software that understands Hypertext Transfer Protocol (the language that browsers and servers use to communicate).

So, in short, what is a server?

In the simplest terms, a web server is just a storage space for your website. When someone creates a website, they don’t just put it “on the internet”. They’re storing it on a server.

Servers, of course, have a finite amount of resources, so the more websites that are stored on a server, the fewer resources will be available for each website. That’s bad news for websites that need lots of server resources.

For the best performance, resource-hungry websites need to be the only website that’s stored on their server. This is a service called dedicated hosting, which is provided by web hosting companies. (More on that later!)

How does web hosting work?

Web hosting companies are companies that own and operate servers, then rent server space to their clients for a monthly fee.

Servers are expensive. Not only do they cost an insane amount of money to buy, but they also cost a lot of money to store, to power with electricity, and to maintain.

If you were to spend money buying your own servers, you’d have less money to spend on other important areas of your business, like product development and marketing. If your website doesn’t make money (for instance, if it’s a non-monetized blog or a portfolio of your artwork), getting your own server is a colossal waste of money.

So, web hosting companies give a certain amount of server resources to each of their clients, and responsible web hosts monitor their servers to make sure they’re always operational, and that their clients’ websites experience maximum uptime. (Uptime is the percentage of time that your website it up and running.) At BlueHosting, we offer 99.9% uptime, which is the maximum uptime that can ever be guaranteed.

What are the most popular web hosting options, and how much server space do they give you?

When you’re looking for web hosting packages, you’re most likely to encounter these three:

Shared hosting servers

Shared hosting means that your website won’t be the only one stored on a particular server. Instead, your website will share server space with other websites (sometimes as many as hundreds or thousands).

This drives down the individual cost of web hosting, because the server maintenance costs are shared among all the users. Our shared hosting package starts at just $2.99 a month!

Shared hosting is great for websites that don’t need many server resources. This includes websites that don’t get much traffic or don’t have many web pages. If this is your first time creating a website (Congrats!), shared hosting is also perfect for you. It’s a good way to dip your toes in without making a full commitment.

Dedicated server hosting

Dedicated hosting means that your website is the only one stored on a server, which means that all the server’s resources are dedicated to making sure your website loads quickly, responds quickly, can support all its visitors, and doesn’t crash.

This is the most powerful hosting option, so it’s not one of our cheaper packages, but it’s definitely way cheaper than buying your own servers. (We also offer dedicated hosting packages at a range of prices, so if you need dedicated hosting, you’re sure to find a package that’s within your budget.)

If your website gets lots of traffic or collects sensitive information and needs special security measures, you need dedicated hosting.

VPS hosting

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. You’ll see why it’s called that in a minute.

Lots of people love VPS hosting, because it’s kind of like a middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting.

With VPS hosting, one server is split into multiple private servers using virtualization technology (hence, Virtual Private Server).

This means that the cost is spread out over multiple users, just like shared hosting, but each user has their own private server, just like dedicated hosting.

So, in terms of price point, it’s midway between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. And in terms of things like privacy, control, and allocation of server resources, it’s also midway between shared hosting and dedicated hosting.

VPS hosting is great for websites that are experiencing slightly slower performance as a result of increased traffic, and for websites connected to medium-sized businesses that handle lots of sensitive information.

The wrap-up

Now that you’re fully up to speed on what is a server, you’ll be in a much better position to choose your perfect web hosting plan. Do you want to keep your server costs as low as possible by choosing shared hosting, do you want to maximize server performance with dedicated server hosting, or do you want to get the beautifully in-between VPS hosting?

You don’t need to agonize over this decision, though. No matter which of our hosting packages you choose, you get the same great customer support, industry-leading uptime, and powerful servers!