You have decided that you would like to set up a web site for your business or blog and you know that you need web hosting but what exactly is it?
Like a lot of things, especially technical things, subjects can get overly complicated and so we are going to try to explain what web hosting is, why you need it and what other bits of terminology to look out for so that you can find the best hosting package for your web site.
Why do I need hosting?
Web hosting is the term used to keep your web site available and on the internet allowing anyone else with a computer and an internet connection to see it. In theory you could set up hosting on your home computer but this is an extremely difficult thing to do and it would also mean that you would never be able to turn off your computer because as soon as you did, nobody would be able to access your web site.
Hosting is very cheap and the benefits of buying hosting instead of setting up your own far outweigh the problems you would get doing it yourself.
Your web site is just a number of files that sit on a large computer (server). Just like the files on your home computer - except that anyone can view them. A server is used, which is really just a normal computer which has been set up specifically so that it can deliver your web site across the internet to anyone that asks to see it.
How would you cope if your business went offline for a week?
It's likely that some new customers wouldn't be able to find you online and so you would miss out on some additional income. More likely and perhaps more importantly, you would be without your e-mail accounts and that would cause all sorts of issues, including stopping you from completing admin, finance and customer service tasks.
Back in February last year Heart Internet, one of the UK's largest domain, hosting and web site companies went down for five days.