Understanding the Difference Between Hosting and Server

Learn the Differences Between Hosting and Server

When building a website, you will often come across two words: host and server. If you are new at web development, you might confuse the two to mean the same thing, but they don’t.

Therefore, since hosting and server are essential to delivering a website to your client or audience, knowing the difference between hosting and server is essential. This article will show how both differ so you can make an informed decision.


Key Highlights

  • Hosting makes websites available online, and a web hosting company provides the services and technology needed to view websites online
  • A web server provides data to devices connected to the internet and uses HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to serve multiple clients on the internet
  • Shared hosting is the most common type of hosting, and it is also cheaper than other options
  • A web server makes it possible to store, process, and deliver the information requested by website users on the World Wide Web
  • There are several challenges with maintaining servers and hosting services and providers must be proactive in tackling them


What Is Hosting?

Hosting is a service individuals and organizations use to make their website accessible and available online. A web hosting company provides the services and technology needed to view a website online. Each hosted website is distinguished by its domain name and has web space and storage.

Once the domain name is specified on a web browser, visitors can access the website on the Internet. If you do not have a domain name, the hosting company can help you buy one. There are several features to watch out for when choosing a hosting provider.

1. Email Accounts

Your hosting company should have an email account feature so that you can create a domain email account. This is what the email address looks like: yourname@yourwebsite.com.

2. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Access

You need FTP to upload files from your computer to the web server, especially if you built the website with personal HTML files. Without using FTP to send your file to the web server, your website cannot be accessed online.

3. WordPress Support

WordPress powers 40% of the web.

Source: WordPress.org


WordPress is one of the most used tools to create a website, especially for bloggers and e-commerce stores. It also has a content management system, which makes it a preferred choice among web developers. Therefore, your hosting provider must have WordPress-compatible hosting if you use WordPress. Ask the provider if their plans support MySQL version 5.6, PHP version 7, or greater.

It is vital that you use a good hosting service provider to host your website. The following are some of the  importance of good hosting:

  • Better security and support
  • Frequent website backup
  • Adequate hardware
  • Non-stop monitoring
  • Access to features and tools
  • Better website load time and less downtime
  • Better ranking on search engines


What Is a Server?

Final: Understanding the Difference Between Hosting and Server

A server is software or computer system that provides data or service to a computer or devices connected to its network. It uses HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and other protocols to serve multiple clients on the World Wide Web. Also, a web server displays content by storing, processing, and delivering webpages to internet users.

Furthermore, a server is a physical or virtual machine that stores website files, databases, and other resources. When connected to the internet, a web server allows connected devices to exchange data, and the software controls how a person accesses hosted files. Also, when choosing a web server, consider its:

  • Technological resources
  • Traffic volume
  • Technical support
  • Location

What Is the Purpose of Hosting and Server?

As of 2021, there were over 330,000 web hosting providers worldwide.

Source: Enterpriseappstoday.com


The primary purpose of a hosting platform is to make a website accessible to internet users. Hosting is provided by web hosting companies, offering different services to deliver the best experience to their clients. The services include everything you need to host and maintain your website, from IT support to cybersecurity, data software, etc.

By hosting your website with a hosting service provider, you do away with the extra infrastructure cost needed to host the website yourself. Although you may pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee, it is cheaper than self-hosting. Also, you do not have to burden yourself with day-to-day management.

Purpose of Servers  

The primary purpose of servers is to store and manage website files, databases, and other resources. A server also sends and receives data. It is usually connected to a network of workstations called ‘clients.’ The client computer then requests information from the server over the network.

A unique quality of servers is that they have more memory, storage, and processing power than a typical workstation. However, a server’s functionality depends on the network type it is on. Some networks a server interacts with are:

  • Peer-to-Peer

Here, each workstation acts as a client and a server. It is called peer-to-peer because the networks rely on each other to provide and share information and services. Peer-to-peer networks are used for offices and homes.

  • Client/Server

This server network provides services to other client workstations, and they are the most commonly used. There are multiple servers in a client/server network, but they do not function as workstations.

  • Specialized Servers

This server network is built for special DNS, Web, and mail servers and holds the database of internet domains. Specialized server networks also provide access to websites and email accounts.


Types of Hosting

Final: Understanding the Difference Between Hosting and Server

One key difference between hosting and servers are their types. This section will cover the types of hosting. However, your choice depends on the website’s needs and budget.

1. Shared Hosting

Experts predict that the shared hosting market will grow at 15% CAGR and reach $72.2 billion by 2026.

Source: Wpbeginner.com


Shared hosting is the most common and affordable hosting offered by most web service providers. Usually, several websites, up to thousands, are hosted on a single server maintained by a hosting service. Each user has an allocation of the server’s total bandwidth, power, and memory.

Also, you can set up several websites using a single account, and the hosting provider will handle customer support. The hosting provider will maintain software and hardware, provide security protocols and updates, and safeguard your site against downtime and crashes. Furthermore, you will sign a contract with the hosting provider.

The contract states what you can do with your site and when the hosting provider can terminate your account. Although shared hosting is affordable, some disadvantages exist, like restrictions (what you can and can’t do) and security issues.

2. Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

Virtual private server hosting is a step up from shared hosting and a more secure and stable option. VPS hosting is the preferred option for website owners with medium-level traffic, and the providers offer more than one hosting plan. The virtual private server hosting simulates a physical server and is divided into multiple virtual servers.

With VPS hosting, you have a dedicated server space with reserved resources, including RAM, CPU, and storage. As a result, you have more control and customization than shared hosting. Note that although you share resources with other users, you get the number of resources you pay for, and another account cannot use them.

3. Dedicated Hosting

The first thing to know about dedicated hosting is that you don’t have to share it with others. With dedicated hosting, you get a personal server and resources for your website, giving you complete control. If you are building a WordPress website and desire to have a lot of visitors, this is the hosting plan to go with.

Final: Understanding the Difference Between Hosting and Server

Also, with dedicated hosting, you can configure your website to meet your needs. Dedicated hosting plans can be managed or unmanaged, and the hosting center will manage the server for you in case of any problem. Due to the nature of this hosting plan, the hosting server price is high, and features like bandwidth, storage space, and RAM affect the price.

4. Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is a network of servers acting as one, which makes it highly flexible and scalable. The hosting service provider charges you based on usage. As such, it is cost-effective for websites with unpredictable traffic.

With cloud hosting, a connected network of virtual and physical cloud servers hosts the website. Also, there are several key features, including:

  • Websites are deployed on a cloud network instead of an on-premises, single server
  • Resources are allocated based on a user’s need
  • Cloud hosting supports SQL or NoSQL databases
  • Automated and control solutions, using APIs, mobile apps, and web portals.

5. Managed WordPress Hosting

By 2027, the web hosting space will generate $144.40 billion.

Source: Wpbeginner.com


Managed WordPress hosting is specifically for WordPress sites and comes with a pre-installed WordPress. Also, users get automatic updates and optimized performance. However, this hosting type is best for WordPress sites with low to moderate traffic.

Furthermore, the hosting company manages the WordPress website and is in charge of keeping it secure. Also, the hosting service provider handles site maintenance, configures site elements, and provides customized support services for different aspects of the website.

6. Reseller Hosting

With this hosting type, the web hosting service provider allows you to sell web hosting services by offering reseller packages. Reseller hosting is a white-label approach, allowing you to resell a hosting service without technical expertise.

You can resell under the hosting company name or yours. Also, you will buy the hosting services wholesale and set your pricing and conditions. The significant advantage of reseller hosting is that you don’t need to own hardware or software.

If you’re looking for hosting providers, check out HostAdvice. You will find the best hosting according to your preferences.


Types of Servers

Final: Understanding the Difference Between Hosting and Server

The following are the different types of servers:

1. Web Server

A web server is software and hardware for hosting web applications and websites. It stores HTML files, CSS, JavaScript, and images. Then when people make requests using a web browser, the server delivers the information to them.

Web servers also support Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and FTP, which are used for file transfer, storage, and email. In addition, when the web server hardware is connected to the internet, the user can exchange information with connected devices.

2. Database Server

A database server is software that provides database services. It is used for storing and managing data for web applications, websites, and other software. One key feature of this server type is that it allows you to access and manipulate data securely and organized.

You need a database server if you handle extensive data regularly and manage the recovery of the database management system (DBMS). Also, a database server provides concurrent access control.

3. Email Server

18.3% of all websites use Gmail as an email server provider.

Source: W3techs.com


This server type sends and receives electronic messages. Email or mail servers allow for storing email messages, managing email accounts, and delivering messages to the intended recipient. Without email servers, transferring messages from one mail client to another will be difficult.

4. File Server

A file server is software that stores and manages data files so that computers sharing a network can access them. This server allows multiple users to access and edit files without physically transferring them, which is essential for collaborative work.

5. Application Server

An application server is used to run and manage software apps. It is used for complex transaction-based applications and provides a platform for running and executing apps. Also, application servers handle security, database access, and security. The client for an app server can be a web browser, mobile app, or the application’s end-user UI.

6. Print Server

Printers on a network are controlled and managed with a print server. Like the file server, multiple users have access to the print server. As a result, they can handle tasks like printer configuration, queue management, and print documents. Also, print servers store and queue print requests locally to avoid users overloading the printing device.

Aside from the above types of servers, there are also gaming servers. This server type allows gamers to organize multiplayer games over the internet. Gaming servers are hosted locally or remotely, gamers must pay a membership fee to play video games on these servers.

You can find servers that meet your specific needs on HostAdvice. Visit the HostAdvice website today.


Challenges Associated With Servers and Hosting

Final: Understanding the Difference Between Hosting and Server

Several challenges are associated with server and hosting management. This section discussed some of them.

1. Technical Knowledge

Server management requires technical knowledge and expertise in server configuration, software installation, and security. Also, the frequent release of new software and hardware versions quickly makes the server technology obsolete. Therefore a service company must constantly stay up to date to avoid issues.

2. Security

Website data security is one of the challenges of server and hosting management. Servers and hosting services suffer frequent cyber attacks, leading to the loss of sensitive information. As such, it is vital to upgrade security measures regularly.

3. Maintenance

To function optimally and prevent downtime, servers must be constantly maintained, updated, and backed up. A poorly maintained server results in operation issues, services outage, and repair costs.

Also, if there is poor hosting maintenance, the website will be weak and prone to hacking. Therefore, the hosting company must provide maintenance and be more hands-on for dedicated hosting.

4. Cost

Servers and hosting tend to be expensive, especially when not shared. For example, dedicated servers cost more than hosting services and incur ongoing maintenance costs. As a result, small businesses or individuals cannot host their websites on a dedicated server.

5. Scalability

If your business grows or your website gets more traffic, you may have to scale up your server resources to accommodate the growth and increased traffic. You also need to scale up to store more data. While most hosting providers have scalability options, dedicated servers need manual intervention before you can scale up. This takes time and costs extra money.



The difference between server and hosting is clear, but you need the two for your website to have an online presence. Also, remember the type of hosting you need depends on your budget and website needs. There are several budget-friendly website hosting services recommendations on HostAdvice. Check them out to get competitive options.


Next Steps: What Now?


Further Reading – Useful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a web server and web hosting?

The main difference between a server and hosting is that a server is computer software used to run websites. On the other hand, hosting is an online service that enables publishing websites or web applications online.

Do you need to own a server to host your website?

No, you do not need to own a server to host your website. You can use a hosting provider who will rent server space to you for a monthly or yearly fee. The hosting provider will also provide maintenance services.

What is the difference between shared hosting and dedicated hosting?

Shared hosting involves multiple users and devices sharing the resources of a single server. On the other hand, a dedicated server belongs to one website or app, and the owner exclusively uses it.

What are the benefits of using a hosting service?

A hosting service is affordable, especially when using shared hosting, and it is convenient and easy to use. Also, the hosting service handles the backup of website information and files and provides security and software installation, which saves you time and effort.

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