The Ultimate Guide to Website Hosting, Domains and Everything In-Between

Hosting | |

We’re masters of website design and development, and everybody knows that. But when we mention Website Hosting to users, the looks we get are similar to those that we imagine aliens would give if they saw a McDonalds McFlurry machine for the first time.

Here’s a fool-proof guide to website hosting, with everything you need to know.

What is Website Hosting and a Web Server?

Website hosting is how your website is shared with users on the Internet. Websites are hosted on web servers – powerful computers that store all the files that compile to create websites. Every single webpage on the Internet is stored on a server. A host stores your website on their server (big computer) and they keep your website safe and secure. When a user types your URL in their browser or clicks on a link in a search engine results page, this is a request to connect to the web server. The web server fetches the website the user has requested, and sends it all the way back to the user’s browser. 

Types of Hosting

  • Shared web hosting – you share a web server with (possibly many) other websites
  • Dedicated web hosting – your own server
  • Virtual Private Server (VPS) – you have a dedicated part of a shared server
  • Cloud hosting – your website is stored on one or multiple virtual servers 

Why Good Website Hosting is Important

Professional and trusted website hosting makes a difference to your site’s speed, responsiveness and, ultimately, user experience. Website servers often have firewalls in front of them, analysing traffic, to keep your website secure from hackers. Additionally, website servers should not have too many websites on them, making sure the server is never under too much demand and therefore ensuring that your website loads quickly and runs smoothly for users.

Ballyhoo Hosting

When we create a website for you, we typically host it on our own shared web servers.

Ballyhoo uses UK servers to keep your website and its files safe and secure. Our servers are Green Certified, meaning that all websites on these servers run on renewable energy. We only host websites that we have built ourselves, meaning you can be assured your website ‘neighbours’ are all above board and don’t present any risks to the server.

We have multiple servers to ensure there is never too much demand for them to handle, ensuring your website continues to load quickly. We also monitor website traffic 24/7 and look for suspicious behaviour, with any threats being dealt with promptly.

See more about Ballyhoo Hosting Service.

What is an IP Address?

An IP address (Internet Protocol) is a series of numbers, separated by full stops, that identify computers on the Internet to allow them to communicate and pass information to one another.

An example of what an IP address looks like: 123.45.678.123

When you use the Internet at home or work, your device connects to the Internet through your Internet Service Provider who assigns you your IP address. However, when you’re travelling (or using a mobile), your IP address will change according to which mobile data or WiFi connection you’re using at the time.

Public IP Address

A public IP address is used by devices outside of your local network to recognise your network. Although each device has its own private IP address (see below), they all share a public IP address when on the same local network.

Private IP Address

A private IP address is used inside a network, to allow your router to identify devices and differentiate them. For example, your phone, TV and computers have different private IP addresses.

Tip: If you ever need to find your public IP address – for example if you’re having website/internet issues and your hosting provider asks you – you can type into Google ‘What is my IP address’ and the answer will appear at the top of the page.

Because IP addresses are very long and hard to remember, domain names were invented to make it easier to connect to the right web server hosting the websites we want to access. Imagine having to remember that to get to the BBC website you need to connect to the web server at!

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is a unique address that is used to access your website. Domain names have various extensions – such as .com,, .io, .net, .org. Whilst web hosting is where your website lives, your domain name is its address (e.g.

Sub Domains

A subdomain, or third-level domain, is a child domain under the parent domain, often used by businesses for their blogs or ecommerce store (e.g

A word on WWW

Do we still need to use ‘www’ before a URL? It’s usually not necessary to type this before a URL, as it was originally a prefix added in the very early days of the web. Most websites, if configured correctly, will still operate as they should without the prefix www.

How to Buy a Domain

If you want a domain for your website, you’ll need to check that this is available (and not used by someone else) and purchase this from a registrar. Just be sure to buy from a reputable company! You’ll then need to renew it for a fee every year. If you are looking for a new website but don’t have a domain, Ballyhoo can help you to source one and then manage and maintain it for you.

What is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate ensures connections between the web server and user’s browser are secure and all data passed to and fro is encrypted. Best practice is to have an SSL certificate on every website, but this is especially important for e-commerce websites to protect personal data that users are inputting when purchasing goods. 

Additionally, Google sees security as vitally important for a website, so if you have an SSL certificate enabled, you are more likely to appear higher in search engine results than websites who do not.

Process Overview

  • The Internet is a large network of computers that constantly communicate together (the world wide web)
  • Each computer is assigned an IP address, but to make life easier the IP addresses for websites are mapped to domain names
  • Users enter a domain name into a browser (e.g. into Google Chrome)
  • Their device sends a request to a network of servers (called nameservers) who look up the IP address associated with that domain
  • The nameserver then forwards the request to the website server at that IP address
  • The web server fetches the website  files and delivers them to the originating device
  • The files arrive back at the user’s browser, which interprets them visually so they can use your website and content – the entire process taking just milliseconds!

Need Help?

Ballyhoo are experts in website hosting and website development, and we pride ourselves on supporting you throughout the process of the website build, and life after it. Contact us today to discuss your requirements.

Headshot of Rebecca young new team member


Rebecca helps to keep the team organised and supports all of our clients with day to day activities and content. She also runs all of Ballyhoo's internal marketing.