Web hosting service is a type of Internet service that allows people and organizations to make their website accessible online.
You'll need a server, where you will place your website's files and a database, and hosting companies will provide you with one.
There are four main types of web hosting services: shared, VPS, dedicated & cloud hosting.
This is by far the most common option for beginners, being at the same time the cheapest. You can find shared hosting plans from as low as a couple of dollars a month.
Shared hosting means you share the server with many other users, sometimes as many as 3000. You won't have to know almost anything about server management to put your website online as the server is managed by the web host's staff.
However, shared hosting has its weak points. Since you'll be sharing the resources with other users (processing power, memory etc.), your website might suffer as a reason. For example, if there are 1,000 users on the same server and one website uses 80% of processing power, the other 999 sites have only 20% that is left.
This could mean your website might slow down, or even be unavailable just because somebody on your server has poor written code or simple experienced a sudden rise in visitor traffic.
However, shared hosting is still a good idea when you're just developing a new website and when occassional slowdowns are not a real issue.
Also, shared hosting can be a great choice or sometimes the only option if you're on a very small budget.
In VPS environment you typically share a server with 10 to 20 users, where everyone gets an equal share. For example, if there are 10 users, 20GB of RAM and 300GB of hard drive space on the server, you will always have 2GB of RAM and 30GB of space available to you.
Because of the virtualization software used on a VPS, you will almost never have to worry about other users on your server abusing its resources.
One big difference between shared hosting and VPS is that Virtual Private Server allows a high degree of flexibility. You will be able to make a lot of changes to your hosting environment without affecting others.
Another advantage is that VPS is highly scalable. As your website grows and gets more visitors you can usually pretty easily increase the server's memory or processing power to handle the extra traffic.
VPS is a fairly balanced solution and a great option if you have a budget of at least $20-25 dollars a month. It offers much more than shared hosting in terms of server resources, customization and scalability.
If you get a dedicated server, it means you will be the only user on it, able to customize it according to your liking, beginning from hardware, type of processor, memory, hard drive, to the operating system installed on the server.
This option is aimed at larger or more demanding websites where extra flexibility is key. If you're a blogger or a small business owner with website traffic less than 100,000 users per month, you will most likely be better served by other web hosting options.
Cloud hosting is in many ways very similar to VPS hosting. The main difference is that rather than sharing guaranteed resources of a single server as in VPS, in cloud hosting you would sharing resources of a network of servers.
This means even more scalability is possible, as in a VPS you will always eventually reach the hardware capacity of a single server.
Another strong point of a cloud-based hosting is that you will be better protected against DDoS attacks as a large network is more resilient than a single server.
By now you probably know what your server needs our and what server type is likely to serve them best. In the list below you will find some of the best known and most respected hosts in the industry: