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What Does a Web Hosting Provider Do?

Most simply, a web hosting provider makes it possible for other people to access your website through the internet. But, of course, how this happens is a bit complex. Keep reading to learn the full story of what web hosting providers do.

Website and Web Hosting Basics

When you create a website, you essentially put together a collection of files that you want to share with other people online. But how do those web-connected strangers around the world get to see your website? To begin with, the files that make up your website must be stored on a web hosting server. Your site is identified by a unique web address, or URL (uniform resource locator), which allows it to be found. When someone makes a request for your site through a web browser (like Internet Explorer or Firefox), the web hosting server that stores your website responds to the user's request by finding and delivering your site to the web browser on the requester's computer.

In other words: a user requests your site through a web browser and the web hosting server that stores your files responds by serving up your website. This exchange of information is accomplished through hypertext transfer protocol, or HTTP, which you may recognize as being the first four letters of most web addresses. The most fundamental functions of this process are file storage and delivery, both of which are accomplished by a web server.

What Is a Web Server?

The term "web server" can refer to two different, but closely related things: a software program that accepts and responds to HTTP requests from clients, and a computer on which this type of software is running. A web server is responsible both for hosting data and delivering that data by serving web pages in response to incoming requests.

First, let's consider the hardware. While even home computers can be used as web servers, a server used by a professional web hosting company will be a powerful piece of equipment specially configured for web hosting. The ideal web server is a computer equipped with a heavy-duty hard drive, an extensive amount of RAM, and a fast processor. A web server's hardware needs to have plenty of storage space for website files as well as the power to run the necessary server software.

Web server software programs function to accept HTTP requests and send files and documents in response. If the requested web page cannot be found, or if there is an error during the process of serving the page, it is the web server that sends an error notification to the user. Each web hosting server is identified by an IP (internet protocol) address, which is a globally unique identification number. Web servers locate each other in the colossal online environment by using these IP addresses. Web server software may also boast additional capabilities, such as support for encrypted connections and user authentication processes. Web hosting servers may also have the ability to log information about client requests and server responses.

The Functions of a Web Hosting Provider

Thus far, we've learned about websites and web servers, and these are the building blocks of what web hosting providers do. A web hosting company provides the web server and internet connectivity that allows your website to be available to anyone connected to the internet.

Providing space on a web server is only the start of the benefits that web hosting companies can offer to their clients. Owning and configuring a web server requires a great deal of technical expertise and a significant financial investment, so a web host allows its clients to avoid the cost of these resources. Web hosting providers also take care of the physical storage and maintenance that web servers require. They address the physical needs of their web servers by providing storage space in cooled environments as well as necessary hardware maintenance. Web hosting companies also perform hosting software maintenance, upgrades, and repairs as needed to keep the websites they serve online without interruption.

Additional Web Hosting Services

A web hosting company can choose to provide a wide variety of services in addition to the basic web hosting functions. For instance, Freeservers provides useful tools for website creation and maintenance, including a website builder that makes creating a website easy for even the least technically savvy user. Freeservers also provides optional upgraded web hosting services such as statistics, search optimization, and POP mailboxes.
What services you will need from a web hosting company depends upon the size, features, and purpose of your website. Many hosts, including Freeservers, provide different tiers of web hosting so that you can choose the combination of services and cost that best fits your needs. Freeservers offers a variety of web hosting packages designed to offer the hosting solutions you're looking for. Of course, every one of our hosting packages includes the server space and internet connectivity that will establish your online presence.

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