A basic introduction to web hosting
Let’s start at the beginning: Your website is found by going to a domain. And for Gypsydo, that is gypsydo.com. When people type in that domain, they are directed to my website.
Behind the scenes, my website’s files are located on a server. (Just like you may save Word documents or pictures to your computer’s hard drive.) I pay a fee to a hosting company to store my website files on their hosting server, so that people visiting the WWW can access my website. Web hosting is simply a place for your website to “hang out.”
If you are updating content on your WordPress website, you probably access it by logging in to your site’s Dashboard. Here, you are accessing a part of the site, but not the whole thing. Behind the scenes, there is the WordPress “software” and a database that is stored on your hosting account, which work together and do their techy thing to allow you to access your Dashboard and manage your website.
It is possible to access your site’s file structure via FTP – that means “file transfer protocol.” By logging into your hosting account, you can also often access a Control Panel, where your FTP login info may be stored, as well as information on how access your site’s database. Website developers use a computer program to access your files via FTP – but first they have to have your FTP info (like a username, etc.) to do so.
Clear as mud? Here’s an illustration. It’s not perfect – but we can all understand what a car is, right?
- Visiting your website = People can see you drive by in your bright blue car.
- Accessing the WordPress Dashboard = Your best friend borrows your car for the day and they refill it with gas as thanks. Maybe they’ll clear out some trash, too, if they’re really nice.
- Complete access to all your website’s files, often gained by access to your site’s hosting account. = You take your car to the shop for major repairs after some one rear-ended you. Not just anyone walking by your car parked in your driveway can fix it; but by giving your car and keys to a professional, they have the knowledge and now your permission to make repairs.