The Internet has firmly entered our lives, we go to dozens of sites every day, this is called “web surfing”. In this article, let’s look at how websites work and what web hosting has to do with it.
When you need to go to any site, we open the browser and write the name of the site, or rather the domain name. It consists of the name and designation of the domain zone, for example, the domain “yandex.ru” belongs to the “ru” zone. Next, the browser needs to convert the alphabetic name into the digital address of the site – IP (Internet Protocol). Text names were invented for the convenience of using the Internet, but in fact, “under the hood” are only digital IP addresses.
For example, “yandex.ru” corresponds to the IP address “220.127.116.11”, but it can change. Your computer and smartphone also have an IP, you can find it out using a special service to determine IP . To match domains with IP addresses, the global DNS (Domain Name System) database is used.
When the IP is found, the browser accesses this address and starts downloading the site’s files. These files must be stored somewhere, this place is called web hosting. That is, hosting is a place on the Internet, a server where the site “lives”. Web hosting is provided by hosting providers, more information from such services can be found on this site . The quality of hosting directly affects the stability of work and the speed of loading the site. The hosting service is paid, and the prices vary depending on the requirements, from $1 per month. There are thousands of providers now, so it’s better to start your acquaintance with web hosting right away with the rating of the best companies.
Hosting not only contains site files, it is a complex system that includes several main modules:
- Name server (DNS).
- File storage.
- Programming language processors.
- Database servers.
- Backup system.
- HTTP server.
Name servers store a database of domains and IP addresses. These databases are synchronized with each other and, theoretically, all hostings have the same database. Your ISP has the same database.
The file server provides disk space. The site uses several basic types of files:
- HTML is the source code of the page that is loaded into the browser.
- PHP is code in the PHP programming language.
- CSS – styles for the visual design of content.
- JPG, PNG, GIF, WEBP – pictures, photos.
You can, of course, store any files, but the described types are used on most pages on the Internet.
In the early days of the internet, websites were static. This means that ready-made files were stored on the hosting, which the browser simply downloaded and rendered the page. Now the sites are dynamic, i.e. there is no finished HTML file on the server, but it needs to be generated. This happened because content management systems (CMS) appeared , they are also called engines.
CMS uses programming languages and databases. In fact, different information is scattered across dozens of tables in the database. With the help of the code, information is collected according to a given algorithm and a page is formed.
This way you can generate millions of pages, and you don’t need to store HTML files for each one. But most importantly, it is easy to change something at once on all pages of the site. Web hosting is able to interpret code in programming languages. The most popular are PHP, Perl, Python, ASP.NET, node.js. When choosing a hosting, they pay attention to the native support of the required interpreter of a certain version.
For example, most projects just work in PHP, but keeping the latest version of the interpreter is important. The performance of the PHP engine has grown by an average of 50% during the evolution from version 5.3 to 7.4 . This means that with the same server resources, the PHP 7.3 engine will handle page generation up to two times faster. The speed of code execution and database access has become the main hosting parameter.
The HTTP server accepts the connection from the browser and returns the files. If the page is static, then the HTTP server simply downloads the HTML file, and if it is dynamic, then it will first transfer control to the interpreter and then take the HTML code from it. The ability of the hosting to handle a large number of connections, that is, visitors, depends on the HTTP server.
The described model is called “Shared hosting”, it is also called virtual or Shared. With shared hosting, a site is allocated disk space and a CPU time limit for processing commands. As a rule, this limit is small, since hundreds of sites use one server, hence the name “general”. This is the most inexpensive and common type of hosting.
Shared hosting has disadvantages:
- Limited computing resources.
- You cannot change the software environment.
- Server settings are very limited.
- The security of all sites is interconnected.
But there are also advantages:
- Low cost.
- Everything works out of the box.
- Server administration is completely in the hands of technical support.
Serious projects do not use shared hosting, although large content resources can stay here. In fact, shared hosting can handle massive traffic if you turn a dynamic site into a static one.
For this, caching plugins are used. It works simply: the first time a page is accessed, it is, as expected, generated by the engine from scratch. Then, the finished page is saved to an HTML file on disk, and the next time it is accessed, the hosting gives a static file.
Shared hosting does not guarantee processor resource, and it is not measured in any way. Some hosts have come up with an internal unit of measure for the processor, such as 50 CPUs. The number does not allow you to somehow evaluate the load capacity of the server, but in this way you can compare tariffs with each other. This gives an understanding that a more expensive tariff differs not only in available disk space, but also in an increased processor limit.
For guaranteed capacity, virtual private servers are used – VPS / VDS. In this case, you get not just disk space for the site, but your own server. This means that you have your own operating system at your disposal. You can install any modules, programming languages, HTTP servers and databases on the operating system. True, you cannot install your own OS, you can only choose from pre-installed images.
You can draw some analogy between VPS and Shared: instead of a piece of disk space, you get a piece of the server. One real server is divided into dozens of virtual servers. Resource assurance is determined by the VPS parameters:
- Clock frequency of the processor in MHz, for example, 2900 MHz.
- Number of processor cores: from 1 to 32 and above.
- The amount of RAM.
- Disk space.
Online stores and services are launched on VPS hosting. If you need a whole server, then this is called renting a dedicated server. A physical server is transferred under your control, on which you can install your own OS.
Unlike Shared, you need to administer a dedicated server yourself, monitor its performance and security. If at night the server freezes and the site stops working, then only you are responsible for this. In the case of Shared hosting, technical support will see that the server has crashed and will restore its operation.
Hosting is used not only for websites, it is also remote servers for running applications. Sites run on Linux OS, programs run on Microsoft Windows. It is convenient that the servers work 24 hours a day, do not make noise and do not take up space in the room. On a remote server, you can run a program that should run without interruption and not require a lot of computing power. For example, Windows hosting is used for the operation of exchange robots.
It is necessary to carefully approach the choice of hosting provider services for hosting the site. After reviewing the available information, you can choose what the user needs in a particular situation: virtual hosting or a VPS/VDS server. Both types of hosting have their pros and cons, choose what suits you best.