What Is the Difference Between Hosting and Server?

difference between hosting and server

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What’s the difference between hosting and server? Why is it important to know?

A web host and a server provide important functions to establish an online presence and keep your website running. Web hosting gives devices access to a network, while a server renders the services.

In my years of digital marketing experience, I’ve found these two terms can be confusing to those who are new to the digital landscape.

That’s why I created this guide to help you understand the nuanced differences between the two pillars of website creation and management.

Let’s begin.

What’s the Difference Between Hosting and Server?

The short of it: Web hosting provides space on a server for websites and files that users can access online. Conversely, a web server is a specific computer system or software that hosts and processes website files, enabling their display and operation on the internet.

Here are their differences at a glance:

Web HostWeb Server
PurposeHosts websites, offers file storageManages email, web content, applications
ResourceShares resources among multiple websitesDistributes resources for specific services
ConnectionInternet connectionLAN or Internet
ServicesFile hosting, website building, domain reg.Email management, data storage, application hosting
StorageStorage space for website content/filesData storage, email repository, application files
BenefitsEase of website deployment, securityCentralized data management, specific service provision
TypesShared, VPS, Dedicated, Cloud, Managed, etc.Web, Mail, Application, Database, File, etc.

Let’s dissect the two even further.

What Is Web Hosting?

Web Host

Web hosting is the cornerstone of an online presence. In essence, it provides server space where your website’s files, data, and content reside, allowing it to be accessible to users on the internet.

Think of a web host as a specialized service that rents out storage space on a server, providing the necessary infrastructure for your website to function.

It can be a general term for file servers and others. You store data on a web server and transfer the data to other locations. 

What Is a Web Server?

What Is a Web Server?

Contrary to web hosting, a web server refers to the hardware or software responsible for storing, processing, and delivering web pages or content upon user requests.

It’s the engine that responds to a user’s web browser when they’re accessing a website. In simpler terms, it’s a type of hosting service.

A web server might be a specialized hardware designed to host websites and applications. Alternatively, it can exist as software installed on a dedicated machine.

The primary function of a web server is to handle HTTP requests, serving web content, data, and applications to users upon their query.

Types of Web Hosting

Types of Web Hosting

In web hosting, various types cater to diverse needs. I’ll define each one and its purpose.

  • Shared Hosting

Shared hosting involves multiple websites sharing resources on a single server. It’s an economical choice for beginners or small businesses.

However, it may lead to reduced performance due to resource sharing.

  • VPS Hosting (Virtual Private Server)

VPS hosting provides a dedicated portion of a server’s resources to each website, offering a balance between cost-efficiency and autonomy.

It’s suitable for businesses that need more control and resources than shared hosting can provide.

  • Dedicated Hosting

With dedicated hosting, you have an entire server exclusively for your website. This option offers maximum control, performance, and security but comes at a higher cost.

  • Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting uses multiple remote servers. It ensures redundancy and flexibility, allowing for seamless resource scaling based on demand.

  • WordPress Hosting

WordPress hosting is specifically optimized for WordPress websites, offering additional features and security tailored to the platform.

Types of Web Servers

Types of Web Servers

There are multiple types of a web server, each offering specific functions in supporting different aspects of information technology.

  • Web Servers

Web servers are specifically designed to host websites and serve web content. They respond to client requests over HTTP and deliver web pages to users’ browsers, making the content accessible over the internet.

  • Mail Servers

Mail servers handle the sending, receiving, and storage of email messages. They manage email traffic within organizations and facilitate communication between users via email protocols.

  • Application Servers

Application servers support the operation of software applications. They manage and execute the logic and data processing required by applications, providing a platform for these applications to function effectively.

  • Database Servers

Database servers store and manage data for retrieval and manipulation. They are essential for organizations dealing with substantial amounts of structured information, providing efficient storage and retrieval solutions.

  • File Servers

File servers are for storage and centralized access to files within a network. They provide a means for users to store, access, and manage files and documents.

The Bottom Line

The difference between a host and a server can be confusing, but I hope my article has helped you understand each one better.

Remember, their distinction lies in their roles and functionalities within the online landscape. While a host provides the infrastructure, the server acts as the hardware or software that displays the website to users.

Understanding this difference can help you better position yourself in the digital marketing space.
Determine the ideal type of hosting for your business by learning the differences between web hosting vs. cloud hosting.

Written by: Omar Deryan

Founder of OJ Digital Solutions

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