7 Web Hosting Terms You Should Understand

Hosting can be a complex and exasperating part of owning a website. It doesn’t need to be if you understand some basics as well as your options for purchasing hosting services.

Below we discuss 7 web hosting terms you should understand.


A computer or computer program that performs the specific task of “serving” information based on requests from other machines or programs. It’s a simple concept, but on the Internet the process occurs amongst many machines over a vast network.

There are many types of servers, such web servers, database servers, memcached servers, and file servers. Websites are hosted on a web server or a web server combined with other types of servers, such as database servers.

IP Address

An IP address is like a telephone number for computers connected to the Internet. A publicly accessible server connected to the Internet has a unique IP address, which consists of a series of numbers separated by periods.

Website Hosting

An Internet service whereby a website is hosted on a server and made accessible via the World Wide Web (or the Web) to other machines connected to the Internet.  This service is unrelated to email hosting which may or may not be provided by the same hosting company.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is a hosting service where many websites are hosted together on a single server. Shared hosting is by far the most economical hosting option, as many websites share the server's resources. Shared hosting does have drawbacks such as:

  • Performance issues caused by one website can affect the performance of all other websites sharing the same environment.

  • A shared server is generally more restrictive when it comes to specific software versions and settings.  

  • A shared server is generally less customizeable.   

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting refers to a web server hosting a single website or multiple websites. The main difference between shared and dedicated hosting is that the owner of a website or web server has control over the server in a dedicated hosting environment. Unlike shared hosting, dedicated hosting provides direct access to and control over the server itself.

Modules, software, or programs can be customized and tailored as needed for a website. A dedicated server can also be configured in a way that benefits a particular website’s performance.

Dedicated hosting solutions cost significantly more than shared hosting, not only in terms of the server itself, but also in time and the cost to manage it.

Virtual Dedicated Hosting

Virtual dedicated hosting is a software equivalent of dedicated hosting. A virtual dedicated server functions like a physical server, but shares an environment with other virtual dedicated servers. Virtual dedicated hosting is not like shared hosting, since each virtual server is dedicated to a single hosting environment, similar to a physical dedicated server.

The cost of virtual dedicated hosting plans are more expensive than shared plans, but more economical overall than dedicated plans.

Managed Hosting

A web hosting service whereby a web host provides management services, such as backups, monitoring, patching and updates, along with a web hosting solution. Conversely, unmanaged hosting means that the web host provides a web server only.