Web Hosting Tutorial Series


Video #2: What are web servers? Why are they necessary?


This video tutorial will teach you what a web server is and why they are essential to running your website.


Click to Watch Web Hosting Video #2: What are Web Servers? Why are they Necessary?

Web servers are computers that have been set up by a hosting company, usually in a facility called a datacenter. A web server’s primary purpose is to store the content of websites – HTML web pages, images, style sheets, etc – and then quickly deliver that information to a visitor’s browser when it is requested.


Ordinarily, a server is able to respond to at multiple requests at a time – even hundreds. However, the number of websites a server can comfortably host at a time depends on a wide variety of factors, ranging from the physical (server hardware) to demand (how popular a site is).


Even the most expensive server hardware isn’t very useful without the appropriate software. The most important software programs of a web server are also called servers, or daemons. Software servers are key to getting things done. At a minimum, most servers used for web hosting have at least these four types of software servers running at all times:

  • HTTP or web – serves the websites
  • FTP – enables you (and in some situations others) to upload information to the website
  • Email – allows you to send and receive email messages
  • Database – stores essential data and information essential for operating the website

Perhaps you’re wondering if web servers are even necessary or why you need to pay a company to provide you with this type of service. Why can’t you just run your websites from a computer at home? Trust us, there are several very good reasons:


1. Most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) specifically disallow people from running any type of web-related server on their networks. Doing so can potentially get your Internet account suspended or terminated.


2. In addition, most consumer broadband ISPs aren’t reliable enough for hosting websites. Do you want people to be able to visit your sites at all hours of the day, every day of the week? That won’t be possible if your Internet connection is acting up or your ISP is performing maintenance.


3. Another consideration to factor in is the costs of running a computer for extended periods – this include the cost of any parts that may fail, plus increased electricity costs.


Still skeptical about why you can’t just use your personal computer as a server? A big factor to consider is the upload speed of your connection. While broadband connections are increasingly getting faster and faster, the upload speeds of your Internet connection are usually about 10-20 times slower than download speeds. When running a server on your computer, your upload speed would directly determine the total download speed shared across everyone accessing your sites. More than likely, you’ll only be able to offer up a megabit or two. Even if you’re just hosting a basic website with only a few pictures on it, that bandwidth will quickly be used up by only a few people.


On the other hand, a professional server with a hosting provider, offers connections that are as fast as 10,000 megabits. You’d have to pay a fortune to get even a 100 megabit connection to your house, whereas a hosting provider can offer you space on a server with an ultra-high speed connection for a fraction of the cost.


Up Next:


Now that you understand what a web server is, let’s move on and discuss the difference between shared, dedicated, and other types of web hosting .


Be Sociable, Share!