When starting up a business online, you’ll find yourself dealing with two different companies: an Internet Service Provider (ISP), and a web hosting company.
But, it can be pretty confusing to understand what ISPs and web hosts do, especially if you’re new to these internet terms. There are also cases wherein the two overlap in terms of the services they both offer, making it even more mind-boggling for some.
Luckily, we’re here to differentiate them for you.
What is an Internet Service Provider (ISP)?
For you to be able to access online services such as your email and your website, you’re going to need a way to access the internet first.
This is where your Internet Service Provider comes in.
An Internet Service Provider or ISP refers to an organization that provides a range of services that allow customers to access and use the internet. ISP organizations can be commercial, non-profit, community-owned, or privately owned.
You’ll find that they offer common services such as proxy servers, domain name registration, internet access, web hosting, internet transit, and much more.
To put it simply, without an ISP, you wouldn’t be able to do the stuff you usually do on the internet. You won’t be able to play online video games, shop online, use social media, or more crucial tasks like managing your business’ activities.
What is a Web Host?
A web host, as the name suggests, is the place where you upload your website pictures, videos, pages, and everything else that’s included on your website.
Hosting a website is pretty easy and you can basically learn how to do it in a span of a few minutes!
The process is pretty straightforward: you just create these files on your local computer, and then upload them to your web host. After that, your web host would make your content accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
What’s more, your web host can also be located anywhere in the world. The best web hosts have servers spread across different continents, so both local and international users only need an internet connection to visit your website.
What is the Relationship Between ISPs and Web Hosts?
Now that you know what both internet terms mean, you’ll now be able to understand how they relate to one another.
As mentioned earlier, ISPs allow you to access the internet. You’ll be able to talk to friends online, answer to emails, watch your favorite videos and much more. Thanks to web servers, all of the information stored on the internet is displayed to you.
With that said, ISPs are essential in order to carry out online tasks daily. Without one, you basically won’t be able to do anything online – including web hosting.
You need an ISP to connect to the internet, where you can then find a web host for your website.
How ISPs and web hosts work together
Now that you understand the relationship between ISPs and web hosts, let’s dive a little bit deeper on how they work together.
The process starts the moment you connect to your internet and type a domain in your browser, such as ‘https://google.com’. The request then goes out to your ISP.
After that, your ISP will look at the DNS or Domain Name Server file that lives inside the domain host, then it replaces google.com with an IP address such as 126.96.36.199.
This makes the HTML file accessible to your browser thanks to the web host that stores the files for google.com. Then finally, the website is displayed.
What are the Differences Between ISPs and Web Hosts?
ISPs and web hosts have a lot in common but that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing. The following are their differences.
1. You need an internet connection to access web hosting
The main difference between ISPs and web hosting is that ISPs are the service provider that you’ll use to connect to the internet. Web hosting, on the other hand, is a place you’ll upload files for your website such as images and videos.
2. Your ISP will depend on your location
Your ISP must be a company that provides service in your area, unlike your web host which can be located anywhere in the world.
You’ll often use your ISP at home and connect to the internet by either using an Ethernet (wired) connection or a wireless connection. And if you’re traveling, you’ll require an ISP based in the place you’re staying in.
3. You only need one web host
You only need one web host to handle the hosting of your website. One web host is capable of displaying your website from any part of the world.
ISPs, on the other hand, are a different case. Since they’re dependent on location, your users are most likely using different ISPs to access your website.
How do I Find a Good Web Host?
As you may have already guessed, there are a lot of web hosts available in the market. Some might have the features you’re searching for such as more storage, or maybe you’d like to have more protection and security measures for your site.
Whatever your needs and preferences may be, here are some of the things you should be looking out for when finding a good web host:
- Understand your website needs
Make sure to look for a web host that covers your website’s needs. For example, you might need a lot of storage for your photography blog or you might need more protection for your sensitive blog articles.
- Research and compare different hosting providers
Some hosting providers might offer more despite being cheaper.
- Check the web host’s technology and features
Research on the features that the web hosting service offers and how well they do in terms of performance and security.
- Look for dedicated support
Make sure the hosting provider has 24/7 support to help you right away whenever you encounter any issues.
- Find the right web hosting plan
Make sure to get a hosting plan that fits your budget.
Now You Can Differentiate These Two Internet Terms
And there you have it!
Web hosts are what you’ll use to upload your website to the internet, which is available to anyone with an internet connection. On the other hand, Internet service providers are what you’ll use to connect to the internet.
With that said, as long as you have enough speed, it doesn’t matter which ISP you use because the connection simply allows you to access the internet. The choice of your web host, on the other hand, is much more important.
If you need extra help in deciding which web host is for you, check out our web hosting series for in-depth guides and reviews on the most popular web hosts out there.