The website host is the physical computer on which your website lives. Site visitors access the server by way of your domain name, and the hosting server provides access to your pages and files.
There are numerous variations of hosting servers and hosting plans, and your choice is dependent on numerous factors:
Shared Server, Virtual Private Server and Private Server – Essentially, will your website be the only one living on a private server, or will you be sharing the server with other clients?
A private server offers you the most flexibility and security, but can be prohibitively expensive. A shared server is affordable, but can offer performance and security risks. A virtual private server is often a good middle ground… you share a server, but are partitioned from your fellow inhabitants as if you had the server to yourself.
Unix vs. Linux vs Windows – this refers to the type of software installed on a server, and would affect the types of websites you could run from the server. Consult with your site developer before making this decision.
Cloud – Technically, all web servers are part of “the cloud” so this is largely a marketing term. When describing hosting, it usually refers to a flexible network of servers that dynamically adapt to the usage needs of your website, such as a traffic spike from a sudden piece of publicity.
Action Item: Where is your current website hosted? Find your hosting company, account name, and password and store that information in a safe place (along with your domain info).