If you’re reading this, and I know you are, then you have definitely been served content from a web server. But what exactly is a web server and what does it do? In this article we’ll take a low-tech look at the all-too unfamiliar web server.

The Basics

A web server is a computer, similar to yours, and runs on an operating system (like Windows or Linux). However, this computer is equipped with special software designed to respond to browser requests (from Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.) and serve content to your visitors. Apache, Microsoft’s IIS and NGINX are web server applications that take responsibility in serving content to over 75% of websites on the internet. Like us, web servers use different, basic languages to communicate. These are called ‘server-side’ languages. The language that the server chooses to use is based on support and user preference. PHP is currently the most commonly used server-side language working with web servers to provide content from everything to small WordPress blogs to mega sites like Facebook.

A person's hands on a laptop keyboard with a smartphone and a wallet nearby

Photo by Fabian Irsara / Unsplash

While web hosting plans vary from company to company, in the most general sense, web hosting companies rent space to customers on their servers. When you type www.Rebel.com into your browser’s address bar, or click on a link, your browser attempts to locate the computer associated with www.Rebel.com. In order to connect the domain name Rebel.com to the correct computer, a domain’s DNS Record must be mapped to the computer via its IP (Internet Protocol) address.

After locating the computer, the browser sends a request for the websites landing page. The web server receives the request and responds with the appropriate resources. Everything that appears on the page is delivered by a web server. Clicking on a link initiates the same procedure. For example, you click on a link for an image, say www.Rebel.com/magic.jpg, the browser asks the web server if it could have the file. If the web server is able to find the image, it sends it back; if not it returns and error message to the browser and redirects the user to an error page. Web servers support a wide-range of file types including: html, css, images, video and pdf, to name a few.

What makes Web Hosting more reliable?

These are important components to consider when choosing the right web host, and are good indicators of a company's commitment to infrastructure, performance, and customer service.

SSL Certificates

SSL Certificates are an integral part of an online presence - they let your customers know that your website is secure and submitting personal information is safe. They are easy to set up, can help improve your SEO, improve your visitor's trust, and protects your visitor's data.

All our Web Hosting and Managed WordPress packages offer free LetsEncrypt SSL Certificates.  

Need help? Check out our article on setting up your SSL.

Malware Defense and Removal

If you're stressed about website hacks and malware, choose a platform or provider that includes malware protection and removal, or at least offers it as an add-on. All our Web Hosting and Managed WordPress packages have Imunify360 running in the background - this application will stop your site from getting infected in the first place and, if it does happen, will automatically clean it up!

Email Deliverability

Using MailChannels as an SMTP relay can vastly improve the deliverability of the emails you're sending, making sure they aren't blocked and don't get sent to spam - an important factor for positive user and customer experiences. All our Web Hosting and Managed WordPress packages use MailChannels as an SMTP relay.


Did you know you can check most hosting provider's uptime statistics? This is the best way to see if your business and traffic can rely on a hosting platform's infrastructure. Uptime indicates the percentage of time a provider's services are up and running with no downtime. Did you know Rebel has a 99.9% uptime guarantee?