Web Hosting: What Exactly is a Server?

Posted on 5th March 2019 by Samantha in Backup, Web Hosting, Website
7 minutes read
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Servers carry out specific dedicated tasks for clients. It may be a computer, device or program that has been setup to manage network resources. Servers can do a wide range of different tasks from web hosting to hosting your mail. However, you can only configure an individual server for one specific task.

What is a server?

A website server refers to a server that has been setup for web hosting tasks with web server functionality and resources. These powerful machines are often used to host website domains for clients. Domains names allows users to access the website via domains (word or catch phrase) instead of an IP address (consists of numbers). A server can also be used for applications or services that your website uses allowing for these specific tasks to run smoothly on their own secure machine. So we can say that a website server is any server setup for data processing for websites.

Different types of servers

Virtual private server

VPS stands for virtual private server. Taking advantage of virtualisation technology allows one physical dedicated server to host multiple virtual private servers. Operating independently from each other with dedicated resources running separate operating systems. Virtual servers offer a similar experience to dedicated hosting at a fraction of the cost with more customisability and faster speeds than shared hosting. Learn more about VPS Hosting here.

Dedicated servers

A dedicated server is physical hardware setup to manage network resources allowing clients to run specific tasks. Dedicated hosting offers more customisability than any other form of hosting giving you a choice in hardware. Renting a dedicated server from a hosting provider is cheaper than purchasing a dedicated server due to huge upfront hardware costs. Servers need to be maintained to ensure fast hosting and reliability by replacing broken hardware and ensuring optimal temperatures which can be costly. The best website hosting companies operate and maintain your servers for you ensuring fast hosting and reliability.

Web hosting (shared hosting)

Web hosting is used to hosts websites at a significantly reduced rate when compared to dedicated and VPS hosting. Multiple websites are hosted on the same server sharing server resources and IP addresses with other domains. This allows small business to host websites with less capital. Once your website starts gaining regular traffic we recommend that you consider upgrading to VPS hosting.

What are some uses of a server?

Website hosting

You can use a server to host your website, both shared hosting and vps hosting offer this option. With shared hosting you share the server resources and IP Address with other users. Using VPS Hosting you have access to dedicated resources that only your service can access. Selecting the correct package for your requirements ensures fast hosting which can lead to faster loading more reliable webpages for your users.

With shared web hosting you share the server resources and IP Address with other users. Using VPS Hosting you have access to dedicated server resources that only your website can access. Selecting the correct package for your requirements ensures fast hosting which can lead to faster loading more reliable webpages for your users.

File storage

Effective file management is essential for the success of every business. File management can become an issue for larger teams as users may not always have the most updated documents. Using a server for remote storage allows your team to update their work in real time allowing other users to access the most updated documents. Improving productivity while removing the need to upgrade your internal network for more storage.

Mail server

Most email providers restrict your service giving you limited access in terms of security and customisability. Providers offer you their domain and servers for your email. An example would be “[email protected]” while sending your personal emails through their shared servers. Mail Servers allow you to send emails via your secure server which you can configure to meet your security requirements offering encryption services. You can also setup Sender Policy Framework (SPF) to only accept emails from authorised addresses; it rejects unauthorised emails.

Backup servers

Data is important to any business while losing data can pose major issues. Files and documents take time and money to create, losing these documents means they need to be recreated. Depending on how crucial certain documents are losing data can cripple businesses leaving them unable to function till data is restored. Doing a regular backup of important data ensure in an event where data is lost you have an option to restore from backup. This saves time as you can work from the last previous save point instead of from scratch. It is important to keep important backups of your network. You can host or storge your backups on a separate server. In the event your network fails, you risk losing all data – including your backup! Using another server for your data backup removes this risk as your backed up files are no longer affected by your main network.

Selecting a server

When selecting a secure server there are many options. Picking the right package for your specification can be challenging. When selecting a machine to host your website take the following into consideration:

Storage

Storage is an important aspect in website hosting. electing between Hard Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD) can be a daunting task. If you require a lot of storage a Hard Drive would be more suited to your needs. If you require fast data transfer speeds solid state drives offer faster transfer speeds. Hard drives are limited in terms of data processing by mechanical aspects. Solid State drives are full electronical therefore can process data faster. If you require fast hosting solid state drives would be more suited, however SSD’s don’t offer much storage capacity.

Processing speeds

Processing speeds impact the rate at which data can be processed. Selecting enough processing power is vital to ensure software, webpages and applications run smoothly. Processing speeds are measured using hertz (Hz). Not having enough processing power leads to programs running slowly and slower loading webpages for users leading to unreliable hosting.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the limited rate at which data can be sent from one server to another. In fact, bandwidth restricts the amount of data you can receive making large file transfers a lengthy process. So, if you need to send large files over your servers regularly we recommend upgrading your bandwidth for faster data transfers. If your website receives regular traffic, it is important to calculate your bandwidth to select the best option for fast hosting.

If you are using more bandwidth than you expect, then you could be the victim of a DDOS attack.

RAM

When you hear about ram it is referring to storage. Before the CPU processes data, the RAM or Random Access Memory temporarily stores it. Think of RAM like a waiting room to the main processor. Having more RAM allows for more data to be stored prior to processing. The CPU can then process data quicker with faster RAM. Having enough RAM with good speeds allows for faster processing leading to faster hosting.

Summary

Understanding what servers are and how they function allows you to make more informed decisions when selecting the best website hosting package for your requirement. For new websites with low traffic, we recommend shared hosting as this is the cheapest option. If you currently have a regular flow of traffic to your site VPS hosting could be the best option for you. For websites with large amounts of traffic dedicated hosting maybe the only option to ensure fast hosting and reliable services.