Clients are sometimes embarrassed to ask, but often don't understand what they are paying their hosting company for. But occasionally, an intrepid soul will just put it out there and ask "what does my web hosting company do for my business?"
Here's a breakdown of how your website is put together. Think of it as "everything you wanted to know about how your website works but were afraid to ask."
Whether you call is domain name, URL or website it's all the same thing; it's your internet address. Just like you have a physical address for your home or business, you have this "virtual" address where people can find you.
But just as you need to either buy or lease the address where you live, you need to lease your virtual address. This process is called domain registration.
Your website is made up of files. You may see .HTML, .PHP, .ASP for example at the end of a page's address like you would see .DOC at the end of a Word file's name - or you may not see anything depending on how your site is developed.
Regardless of what type of files are used to create your site, your visitors will need to have access to them to see your site. You don't want to open up your computer so the files will need to be stored on a computer where visitors can see your files. These computers are called "servers".
Your hosting company owns these servers where you upload your site's files to make your site publicly accessible. The hosting company's job is to make sure that their servers - and your site - are up and running. They are also responsible for updating their security protocols so your site doesn't get hacked and keeping the software that runs the servers up-to-date. That's why it's important to use a reputable hosting company.
That's it! Aren't you glad you asked?