Web Hosting vs. Server: Meaning, Types and Differences

Web Hosting vs. Server: Meaning, Types and Differences

When it comes to web hosting and server, understanding what they’re for helps you run a smooth and efficient website.

While web hosting is a service that makes websites accessible over the internet, a web server is a device that stores website files so they’re accessible online.

In this article, we’ll define what they are, the types of web hosting and web server, and the differences between them.

What is web hosting?

Web hosting is an online service that allows website files and content to be accessible over the internet. Purchasing a web hosting plan is renting a storage space to store website data.

Web hosts are service providers that offer hosting technology and resources to operate a website. They’re responsible for keeping the server functional 24/7, keeping website files secure, and ensuring that the data, such as photos, texts, and other files, are successfully transmitted to browsers.

Types of web hosting

  • Dedicated Hosting

In Dedicated Hosting, a physical server is dedicated to a customer. The customer has full control over the hosting, and they can optimize it according to their unique requirements.

  • Shared Hosting

Shared Hosting, also known as virtual hosting, is the type that allows multiple websites to share a physical web server. It distributes the resources to accommodate, serve and operate more than one website. Thus, making it the cheapest web hosting service.

  • Cloud Hosting

Cloud Hosting makes websites as well as applications accessible using cloud resources. Unlike traditional hosting, Cloud Hosting is a network of connected physical and virtual cloud servers which host websites or applications. This ensures greater scalability and flexibility compared to deploying solutions on a single server.

  • VPS Hosting

VPS (Virtual Private Server) uses virtualization technology for providing dedicated resources on a physical server with multiple users. This type provides a dedicated server space with a fixed set of resources, but allows greater customization options, while still providing better control than Shared Hosting.

  • Managed Hosting

Managed web hosting services are offered by several hosting providers selling Dedicated Hosting plans. In this type of hosting, the provider helps you in setting up your server, migrating from your old server, and maintaining your server while you host with them.

What is a web server?

A web server is a computer that stores, processes, and delivers website files to web browsers. It consists of software and hardware that uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to respond to requests from the World Wide Web.

They load and deliver the requested page to the browser. For example, Google Chrome. Web servers also use SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) for processing files for storage or email.

To publish a website, you would need either a static web server or dynamic web server.

  • Static web server

A static web server, or stack, has a computer (hardware) with an HTTP server (software). It is called “static” because the server sends the hosted files (as it is) to your browser.

  • Dynamic web server

A dynamic web server, on the other hand, has a static web server and extra software, usually a database and an application server. It is called “dynamic” because the application server updates hosted files before sending them to the browser through the HTTP server.

Types of web servers

There are various common types of web servers available, such as:

  1. Apache HTTP Server

It is an open-source and free web server for Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, Unix, Solaris, and other operating systems developed by Apache Software Foundation. It needs the Apache license.

  1. Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS)

It is flexible, secure, and manageable, and is used widely. IIS is developed by Microsoft for the Microsoft platforms that run on Windows systems for serving the requested HTML pages or files.

  1. Nginx

Pronounced as “engine X”, it is a popular open-source web server for administrators because of its scalability and light resource utilization. Nginx can handle various concurrent sessions because of its event-driven architecture. It can even be used as a load balancer and proxy server.

  1. Lighttpd

It is a free web server that comes with the FreeBSD operating system. Lighttpd is seen as secure and fast and consumes less CPU power.

  1. Sun Java System Web Server

A free web server from the Sun Microsystems that can run on Linux, Windows, and Unix. It is well-equipped for handling medium to large websites.

The leading web servers include Apache, Microsoft IIS, and Nginx. Other web servers include Google Web Server, Novell’s NetWare server and IBM’s family of the Domino servers.

Web Hosting vs. Server: Know the Difference

Here’s a breakdown of the major differences between a web server and hosting.

Web server Web hosting
It is a computer that runs websites It is a process of using a server to host a website
It is used for hosting websites and contains one or more websites It enables websites to be accessible to the users via internet
It provides services to other programs or devices in network It allows organizations and individuals to make their website accessible through World Wide Web
It allows standardization of coding, customizing server settings as per requirements, etc. It improves website performance, website security, etc.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the difference between a server and hosting, you must’ve also understood why you need hosting as well as server to run your website smoothly.

However, essentially choose a reliable web hosting provider, like Bigrock, that provides highly functional, secure, and affordable web hosting with 99.99% uptime. Plus, 24/7 friendly and reliable customer support.

We hope this article was helpful to you.


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