There are a lot of decisions you make when building a website, but perhaps nothing more basic than the decision to host your site locally or with web hosting provider.

If you’re stuck with this question, you might want to take a look at some of the reasons why people choose to host locally or choose to host with a provider instead.

Overview: Using Local Hosting and Web Hosting Providers

  • All the pros and cons of hosting locally and using a web hosting provider.
  • Local hosting You can get the ultimate control on your PC or Mac, but it requires a lot of expertise, plus a considerable investment of time and money.
  • Using a web host is a much easier and smoother option, but it doesn’t give you control over customization or upgrades.

Local Hosting

What does it mean to host your website locally, first of all? Well, a web host is basically the “home” where your website lives.

Local hosting means that your website is hosted on its own network of servers, and you need to set up your own servers.

In a way, the difference between using local hosting and a hosting provider is similar to building your own home versus hiring a contractor.

There may be many reasons to build your own home, but it requires a lot of time and technical expertise.

So why do some people choose to host locally?

If you have the technical know-how to make it successful then this option gives you ultimate control over your own website.

This is a very hands-on approach. This means that if you want to customize, upgrade, or improve, you can always implement it without contacting customer service or asking for permission.

However, local hosting is not supported on Studio. It’s a good idea for those who don’t yet have a fairly high level of computer expertise.

And even if you’re computer savvy, you’ll need to hire at least a few team members to keep your network up and running.

In addition to this, all the hardware that needs to be invested has a rather high monetary cost, especially at first.

Hosting by a web hosting provider

Using a professional web hosting provider to host your website is a much easier option and therefore what most people go for when building a website.

You’ll compromise a bit when it comes to managing your website, but what you get in return is the option to sit back and let a professional handle the technical aspects of hosting a website.

This frees up your time (and money) to focus on all other (frankly, more fun) aspects of your website, such as design, content, and marketing.

How to Host a Website Locally

Now that you know the pros and cons of both hosting options, let’s dive into how these hosting options work.

Hosting locally is technically much more complicated, so we’ll cover the basics here.

Simply put, there are two options for hosting a website locally. Set up a local server or use a virtual host.

Local server

To host locally, you need a local server. It is the computer on which the software is installed, the purpose of which is to serve clients within the local network.

Running a web server application on your computer is one method for setting up a local web server. You’ll be able to host your website locally and view it from any networked computer thanks to this.

There are several options for local server applications, but we will mention one here. XAMPP and WAMP.

Supported PlatformsCross-platform support, Linux, Windows, and Mac OSSupports Windows OSSupports macOS
web serverApacheApacheApache
installEasy to download, install and configureEasy to download, install and configureEasy to download, install and configure

These may sound like Dr. Seuss characters, but in simple terms, both are different types of software that you can run and create a local server to host your website.

The easiest and most user-friendly of these is XAMPP, a cross-platform application that can run on Windows, Linux, and iOS.

Although there is still a pretty steep learning curve for beginners, XAMPP is easier to set up than most other local server software options but gives you a high degree of control over Apache configuration and other optimizations.

WAMP is another option that works similarly, but is only compatible with Windows.

Another potential option is to use Python Simple Server.

This is great if you need to set up your server quickly. Simply install Python and implement a two-line command to establish a simple HTTP server.

You can use any networked device to access your website using any of these techniques.

Cloud Hosting

Amazon and Google both offer unmanaged cloud hosting. It’s kind of a hybrid option between hosting your own website and using a web host provider.

You still have more control over server customization, but you don’t need to invest in the physical hardware or software required to set up a local server.

One of the great advantages of cloud hosting is that your website doesn’t rely on physical servers.

Instead, it is hosted in the cloud. That means you can access it from anywhere – without having to be connected to a network.

Virtual Hosts

If you want to host your website locally, another option is to use a virtual host.

Virtual hosting is a method of hosting multiple independent domains on a single server or a group of connected servers.

Virtual hosting is mainly used by individuals or companies who want to support multiple domains using a single server.

But it can also be a way to host your own website on one computer without using a web hosting provider.

There are two main ways to configure a virtual host.

  1. IP-based. This is the simplest because it uses a different IP address to send directives to each website hosted on the server.
  2. Port. It works similarly to IP-based virtual hosting, but virtual hosts are configured with ports to respond to multiple websites and distinguish which websites receive which directives.
  3. Name-based. This is the most common type of virtual host configuration today. It uses a single IP address for all websites on your server and differentiates websites based on their domain name.

All this is very technical, but if you want to do the work and set up a virtual server, you must first choose the server application that you want to use.

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