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Hosting vs Server [Definitions, Types & Differences]

Written by, Dimitar F

Updated March, 11, 2022

Did you know that the web hosting industry is forecasted to grow to $171 billion by the end of 2027? In contrast, the virtual server market is projected to increase to $8.3 billion by the end of 2026. Both markets are quite large, but there are many differences between hosting vs server. 

Let’s discuss what web servers and web hosting are, along with their types. I’ll also go over the key differences between the two to help you understand them better. 

What Is a Web Server?

It’s software or hardware that provides services to other devices within a network. You can connect multiple servers to a single client or vice versa. 

Web servers can be in the form of hardware or software. A hardware one stores the server software and website’s component files. In contrast, a software web server controls how users access the hosted files. 

You now know what’s a server, but what is a client? It’s any hardware or software that gets a server’s service. The best examples of web servers include:

  • Apache HTTP
  • Microsoft Internet Information Services
  • Nginx

Types of Servers

Now you have an answer to the question, “What are servers?”, let’s look at their types. Servers fall under multiple categories, and each performs different functions within a network. A network can contain more than one server type:

  • File servers: You can store and distribute files with it. Multiple clients or users can share the stored files. 
  • Proxy servers: A proxy server takes requests from a client and forwards them to another server; the response is then relayed to the client. In short, it’s an intermediate party that isolates servers.
  • Application servers: Resource-intensive applications run based on application servers shared by many users. There are two types:
    • Domain Name System (DNS) application server: It converts human-readable names into IP addresses so machines can understand them. 
    • Mail server: They store emails sent to users until a client requests them on behalf of the user. 
  • Web servers: They host data and programs that users request on the internet or intranet. Web browsers generate requests for web pages. 
  • Database servers: Database applications run on these servers that respond to multiple clients’ requests to give data access at any given moment.
  • Virtual servers: They exist within hypervisors, specialized software for storing multiple virtual servers at once.
  • Management servers: They keep track of client and server requests and replies without interfering with any operations.
  • Print server: A print server responds to printing requests from multiple clients across a network. 

What Is Web Hosting?

Before understanding the host vs server differences, you should learn about each. 

So, what is a host? It’s any device (your PC, smartphone, laptop, or tablet) that connects to a network. Each device has an IP address to help identify the devices in a network.

In contrast, web hosting is the process of purchasing or renting space for housing a website online. That ensures the website content, including its coding and images, is available for viewing online.

But you shouldn’t confuse web hosting with domains. There’s a significant difference between domain and hosting. A domain is an address that lets users identify your website while hosting is the space where you store the website. 

Bluehost, A2 Hosting, and GoDaddy hosting services are a few examples of web hosting. 

Types of Hosting

A host vs client or server vs host is the same thing. But before I get to that, let’s understand the different types of hosting:

  • Shared hosting: A shared hosting platform hosts multiple websites on a single server. It’s a cost-effective solution for beginners. 
  • Virtual private server (VPS) hosting: VPS hosting allows websites to be hosted within their own server space. But the physical server remains the same. 
  • Dedicated server hosting: Dedicated server hosting is exclusively rented to a single website. That gives website owners more control.
  • Cloud hosting: It’s connected to a network that helps spread across resources to more than one server at once. It ensures that multiple computers can work together and run applications based on the resources.
  • Managed hosting: It means that the service provider will offer support for everyday hardware, standardized application, and operating system management.

Hosting vs Server: Differences

Now that you have a clear understanding of what hosts and servers are, it’s time to look at the difference between them. 

A server is a software or hardware that provides services to devices or programs within a network. In contrast, a host is a device connected to the network. Let’s look at the more significant differences between the two. 

Connection Method

A server uses the internet or a Local Area Network (LAN) to connect to other devices. A host is linked to other devices using the internet. 

Functionality

People often confuse the functionality of hosts and servers. Let me clear the difference between the two: 

A server provides services and shares the resources. In contrast, a host shares the resources and consumes them.

Conclusion

Host and servers form fast-growing markets that will continue to increase their worth over the coming years. 

Let’s go over the differences between hosting vs. server again. A web hosting platform houses your website. There are multiple types of hosting services. In contrast, a server stores your website’s data. A server may be in the form of hardware or software. Servers also have different types that provide various functionalities.

FAQ

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding server vs hosting:

What is the difference between host and server?

The most fundamental difference between a host and a server is that the former is a device connected to a network that can share and consume resources. In contrast, a server may be a hardware or software that performs services for programs and devices on a network. Also, a server provides services and shares information. It’s connected to other devices via LAN or the internet. 

Is the server a host?

If you’ve been through the differences between hosting vs server, you’ll notice that these are entirely different things. But, in a way, we can say that a server is a special type of host that provides services and shares data with clients or hosts on a network. A host is just a node or device on a network.