What Is Web Hosting and How Does It Work?

January 25, 2019

12:39 pm

Once seen as something of a luxury, websites have become an absolute necessity for any company or individual who wants to make an impact in the online sphere. And if you’re looking to launch your own website, you’re going to need more than just the tools to build it – you'll need somewhere to put it, too. Fortunately, with the help of web hosting providers, you’ll be able to get your website live on the web easily and affordably.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a wide-eyed rookie, it’s worth remembering that getting a website on the internet takes more than just a budget and a keen eye for design. You also have to enlist a web hosting provider that can actually deliver your site to the internet’s many users.

If you're unsure about what web hosting is, how it works, or – all importantly – how much it costs, read on for our comprehensive guide to web hosting.

In This Guide:

What Is Web Hosting?

Simply put, web hosting means storing all the data that makes up your website on a remote server location. After you design and build a site, it has to “live” somewhere for it to exist on the internet. That's where web hosting comes in – after all, you wouldn’t buy a TV if you didn’t have a house to put it in, and you can’t launch a website without a server to host it on.

While some website builders provide web hosting within their pricing plans (which we’ll talk about later), getting a standalone web server hosting provider has its own set of benefits. Depending on which type of hosting plan you get set up with, you can take advantage of everything from lower prices and improved speeds to easy scalability and secure servers.

When it comes to the cost of these web hosting providers, you can expect to be billed on a monthly basis. Prices range widely from provider to provider and plan to plan, which means nailing down exactly what you need from a web hosting provider is essential to making the right decision. You can spend anywhere from $2 to $10 a month on simple shared or personal hosting plans, whereas heavy-duty business plans on dedicated servers can run you as much as a few hundred, or even a few thousand dollars a month.

Web Hosting Providers and Plans

There are a number of helpful web hosting providers that will give you the technical support you need to launch your website without breaking the bank. Take a look at a few of the best web hosting providers below, and read on for a basic comparison of some of their features and pricing plans.

  • BlueHost
  • HostGator
  • GoDaddy Web Hosting
  • 1&1 Web Hosting
  • InMotion
  • WPEngine
  • A2 Hosting

In addition to the variety of providers you can choose from, you’ll also find that each brand has a number of plans, offering everything from basic to enterprise-level hosting at different price points. Whether you’re a huge company that needs to manage increased traffic or a small business that's simply trying to improve their online presence, one of these providers will have the features and cost you need to get the job done.

When it comes to web server hosting, it’s also important to note what type of plan you need, which will depend on what you’re looking for in a website. Each type has a specific set of benefits and downfalls, depending on what you’re using them for. These types include:

  • Shared hosting – sharing a server with other websites. Cheaper option with potential for slower speeds, great for beginners
  • Dedicated hosting – getting a server all to yourself. Much more expensive, but gives you much more control. Great for larger, scaling companies
  • Cloud hosting – hosted across a variety of servers. Less downtime thanks to multiple servers, great for fast growing companies
  • VPS hosting – sharing a server, but you get your own “area.” Perfect in-between option from shared and dedicated hosting
  • WordPress hosting – plans that cater to WordPress designed sites. Some providers are designed specifically for this purpose.

Want to know more? Check out the Best Web Hosting Providers

Web Hosting for Personal Sites

The key to understanding web hosting is to know what you're using it for, and most people are using it for personal websites. If you aren't expecting a huge amount of traffic or a life-or-death situation if a server goes down, it's safe to say that a shared hosting plan will suffice for your particular needs.

As the name suggests, shared hosting involves sharing a server with other websites. Just like with roommates, shared hosting allows you to cut costs by splitting the cost of the server among the other users. However, if the other sites take up too many online resources, you could end up with a slowed down site. Fortunately, most providers will manage this discrepancy – as long as you've got a good one.

Take a look at this handy table to get a better idea of what you can expect from the major brands as far as a shared hosting plan is concerned.

Scroll horizontally to view full table on mobile devices

BluehostGoDaddyInMotionWPEngineA2 HostingHostGator1&1
Bluehost LogoGoDaddy LogoInMotion LogoWPEngine LogoA2 Hosting LogoHostGator Logo1&1 Logo
Number of Plans4433333
Starting Price (monthly)$7.99$7.99$7.99$35$7.99$6.95$4
Highest Price (monthly)$23.99$33.99$15.99$290$18.99$14.95$14
Money back guarantee30 Days90 Days60 DaysANYTIME45 Days60 Days
Unmetered transfer
Free Backups
(Only on Turbo Plan – most expensive)
($35.88 start price)
Free Domain
Amount of Sites IncludedBasic: 1
Plus: Unlimited
Choice Plus: Unlimited
Go Pro: Unlimited
Economy: 1
Deluxe: Unlimited
Ultimate: Unlimited
Maximum: Unlimited
Launch: 2
Power: 6
Pro: Unlimited
StartUp: 1
Growth: 5
Scale: 15
Lite: 1
Swift: Unlimited
Turbo: Unlimited
Hatchling: 1
Baby: Unlimited
Business: Unlimited
Essential: 1
Business: 5
Expert: 50
Sub DomainsBasic: 25
Plus: Unlimited
Choice Plus: Unlimited
Go Pro: Unlimited
Economy: 25
Deluxe: Unlimited
Ultimate: Unlimited
Maximum: Unlimited
Launch: 25
Power: 100 Pro: Unlimited
Across all plans: UnlimitedLite: 5
Swift: Unlimited
Turbo: Unlimited
Across all plans: UnlimitedAcross all plans: 10,000
Email AccountBasic: 5
Plus: Unlimited
Choice Plus: Unlimited
Go Pro: Unlimited
Free business email for first yearAcross all plans: UnlimitedLite: 25
Swift: Unlimited
Across all plans: UnlimitedEssential: 25
Business: 100
Expert: 500
Included SSL CertificatesYes, free on Pro PlanUltimate: Free for 1 year
Maximum: Free
Yes, on ALL plansYes, on ALL plansYes, on ALL plansYes, on ALL plansYes, on ALL plans
Monthly Visitor LimitAcross all plans:
32,000 (between 7,000-8,000 per week)
N/A*Across all plans:
360,000 (between 400-500 per hour)
StartUp: 25,000
Growth: 100,000
Scale: 400,000
*UnattainableAcross all plans: 240,000Across all plans: Unlimited
Knowledge Center
Live Chat
24/7 Live Chat
24/7 Phone
Disk SpaceBasic: 50GB
Plus: Unlimited
Choice Plus: Unlimited
Go Pro: Unlimited
Economy: 100GB
Deluxe: Unlimited
Ultimate: Unlimited
Maximum: Unlimited
Across all plans: UnlimitedStartUp: 10GB Growth: 20GB
Scale: 30GB
Across all plans: UnlimitedAcross all plans: UnlimitedEssential: 100GB
Business: 250GB
Expert: 500GB
Up Time Performance99.9899.9799.9799.9599.9599.9999.98
Best DealChoice Plus: $5.45
(normally $14.99)
Maximum: $19.99
(normally $33.99)
Launch: $6.39
(normally $7.99)
n/aTurbo: $9.31
(normally $18.99)
Business: $5.95
(normally $14.95)
Expert: $1
(normally $14)
All DiscountsSee DealsSee DealsSee DealsSee DealsSee DealsSee DealsSee Deals

Web Hosting for Small Businesses

Choosing hosting for a personal website is one thing. But, if you're looking to get your small business set up online, you're going to need something a little more heavy-duty to manage your traffic.

Small businesses are far more at risk if they're affected by website outages than personal sites. This makes it all the more necessary to have a rock solid web hosting plan in place, and is why we recommend a VPS hosting plan to keep your website online.

With VPS hosting, you're still sharing a server with other websites, but you're allotted your own specific area to function within. This means you won't be entirely affected by what those other sites do, and you'll have a bit more freedom when it comes to your website.

Plus, you'll be able to keep costs low when you want to increase storage or bandwidth, which makes VPS hosting great for small, growing businesses.

For a better idea of what VPS hosting entails as far as brands, features, and price are concerned, check out this comprehensive table to get a better understanding of what you're working with.

Scroll horizontally to view full table on mobile devices

BluehostGoDaddyInMotionA2 HostingHostGator1&1
Bluehost LogoGoDaddy LogoInMotion LogoA2 Hosting LogoHostGator Logo1&1 Logo
Number of Plans343334
Starting Price$29.99$40.99$39.99$49.99$89.95$2
Highest Price$119.99$100.99$144.99$99.99$159.95$30
Money back guarantee30 Days30 DaysAnytime45 Days60 Days
Available RAMStandard: 2GB
Enhanced: 4GB
Ultimate: 8GB
Launch: 2GB
Enhanced: 4GB
Grow: 6GB
Expand: 8GB
VPS-1000: 4GB
VPS-2000: 6GB
VPS-3000: 8GB
Power: 4GB
Prestige: 6GB
Pinnacle: 8GB
Snappy 2000: 2GB
Snappy 4000: 4GB
Snappy 8000: 8GB
Root Access✔(Optional)
Free Back Ups($0.20/mo)
CPU CoresStandard: 2
Enhanced: 2
Ultimate: 4
Launch: 1
Enhanced: 2
Grow: 3
Expand: 4
Across all plans: UnlimitedPower: 4
Prestige: 6
Pinnacle: 8
Snappy 2000: 2
Snappy 4000: 2
Snappy 8000: 4
VPS S: 1
VPS M: 2
VPS L: 2
Email AccountsUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited250
Dedicated IP AddressesStandard: 1
Enhanced: 2
Ultimate: 2
Across all plans: 1VPS-1000: 3
VPS-2000: 4
VPS-3000: 5
Across all plans: 2Across all plans: 2Across all plans: 1
Free Domain
Allowed Domains / WebsitesAcross all plans: Unlimited*MultipleAcross all plans: UnlimitedAcross all plans: UnlimitedAcross all plans: UnlimitedAcross all plans: 100
BandwidthStandard: 1TB
Enhanced: 2TB
Ultimate: 3 TB
Across all plans: UnlimitedVPS -1000: 4TB
VPS -2000: 5TB
VPS – 3000: 6TB
Power: 2TB
Prestige: 3TB
Pinnacle: 4TB
Snappy 2000: 1.5TB
Snappy 4000: 2TB
Snappy 8000: 3TB
Across all plans: Unlimited
Included SSL Certificates
Knowledge Center
Live Chat
24/7 Live Chat
24/7 Phone
StorageStandard: 30GB
Enhanced: 60GB
Ultimate: 120GB
Launch: 40GB
Enhanced: 60GB
Grow: 150GB
Expand: 200GB
VPS-1000: 75GB
VPS-2000: 150GB
VPS-3000: 260GB
Power: 75GB
Prestige: 100GB
Pinnacle: 150GB
Snappy 2000: 120GB
Snappy 4000: 165GB
Snappy 8000: 240GB
VPS L: 120GB
Up Time Performance99.9899.9799.9799.9599.9999.98
Best DealUltimate: $59.99
(normally $119.99)
Ultimate: $101.99
(normally $203.99)
VPS – 3000: $69.34
(normally $144.99)
Prestige: $46.19
(normally $69.99)
Snappy 8000: $49.95
(normally $159.95)
VPS XL: $1
(normally $30)
All DiscountsSee DealsSee DealsSee DealsSee DealsSee DealsSee Deals

Web Hosting Costs When Using a Website Builder

While all this talk of servers may have already eased your uncertainties, another easy and affordable way to host your website is by doing so through a website builder. Not only will you be treated to unique features that make managing and designing your website easy, you’ll also enjoy some of the lowest website hosting prices you can find, without all the technical to-do.

The cost of this option is so low because the price of building a website typically includes hosting within the plan. Sometimes you’ll have to pay to lock down your specific domain name – which is certainly an important aspect of the process – but you’ll still be paying less than if you were using a dedicated server.

For a more comprehensive look at the cost of web hosting when using a website builder, take a look at this table explaining the price of Wix website builder across its many plans.

Scroll horizontally to view full table on mobile devices

Wix PlanFreeConnect DomainComboUnlimitedVIP
Monthly Cost (paid monthly)$0$7$14.50$16$35
Monthly Cost (paid annually)$0$5$11$14$29
Adverts removed
Free domain(if paid annually)(if paid annually)(if paid annually)
Video upload (minutes)003060120
Site Booster & Form Builder App
Email Campaigns and Emails Sent per Month10 campaigns/50,000 emails
Sign UpSee PlanSee PlanSee PlanSee PlanSee Plan


Wix logo Pros

  • Lots of pricing plans to choose from
  • Get access to core website building tools from just $5 per month
  • Unlimited plan gives you everything you need to build a world-class website

Wix logo  Cons

  • Free plan should be avoided unless you're just starting out
  • Could offer more storage

Create Your Website With Wix Today

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Conor is the Senior Writer for For the last four years, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His extensive background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host tech-centric events like Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. You can email Conor at