Hosting Vs. Server – What Is The Difference?

Web Servers and Hosting are terms you’ll probably hear when trying to start a website up. 

Since they serve a similar purpose (creating and bringing up a website), it may be confusing to distinguish between them.

Essentially, a web server is a computer that stores a website’s data and handles HTTP requests to display web pages to a user.

On the other hand, a web hosting service administers and manages that web server and enables it to be accessed via the internet (www.). 

Here’s a layman’s example: if Youtube was a pack of chips that you can buy from Walmart, the pack of chips would be the web server (that has the delicious taste of youtube), while Walmart would be the host, hosting the web server (storing the pack of chips, putting it on the aisles, offering it in different cities, and enabling customers to buy it).

Still confused? Don’t worry. Let’s start from the basics.

What Is A Web Server?

If you’re starting up a website, you’re very likely to hear from peers that you need a web server, and they will be correct to say so.

A web server is a machine that stores a website’s data and enables it to be accessed by other devices on a network.

A web server is in the form of hardware, a special computer that stores data (webpages) but could also have software implications (applications or an operating system).

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In either case, the web server will provide the data or the application to a user.

For example, when you type in youtube.com in a browser, the HTTP request is sent to Youtube’s web server that stores the Youtube web page, all the thumbnails of the videos it will show on the web page, the graphics of the website, etc. 

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Upon receiving a request, the web server sends the data of Youtube to your device (phone or PC) enabling you to see what’s on Youtube.

The software of the web server may work in computing what to show you when you hit youtube.com, based on the algorithm, your previous searches, and watches on Youtube, computing favorable Youtube recommendations.

Each web server will have a unique IP address and domain name (used to access it).

In layman’s terms, a web server stores a website’s data and shows it to a user when they enter the website in their browser.

What Is Web Hosting?

Web Hosting is the act of hosting a web server, in a literal sense.

A business that offers web hosting offers you a web server (that will store the website’s data), but also that server’s administration, security, a plan, and accessibility on the internet.

Without web hosting, a web server is just a computer that has data in it.

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Web hosting allows the webserver to be on the internet (World Wide Web), and administers the web server to make sure it runs smoothly.

For example, the youtube.com web server contains all the youtube videos and data of the web page But without being connected to the internet, it is not possible for you to access it.

The web hosting service that administers Youtube’s server connects the server to the internet, making it possible for you to access the website.

Differences Between Web Hosting and Web Server

For a detailed look into the differences, take a look at the table below.

Web ServerWeb Hosting
A computer that stores a website’s dataThe act of hosting a web server 
Contains data from one or more websitesSecures the websites from being accessed by hackers
Transfers data to other devices using HTTP requestsMakes the server accessible to users via the internet
Stores and computers data in hardware and software formsMaintains and administers the server to make sure everything is running perfectly
The main purpose is to store and deliver web pages to usersThe main purpose is to make the server accessible on the internet
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Conclusion – What do you need?

If you’re looking to start a website, what you essentially need is a web hosting service.

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A reliable web host can offer you a web server to store your website in, its proper maintenance and security alignments, backups, and much more.,

Web servers, individually, are extremely expensive. Using a web hosting provider, you can get access to a shared web server that can host your website, at an affordable and reasonable price.
Some of the best web hosting providers are Bluehost, Hostinger, and GoDaddy.

Starting a WordPress website? Check out our WordPress Optimization Guide (No Plugins).

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