What You Need To Know About The History Of Web Hosting

Web hosting has grown rapidly since the public launch of the World Wide Web. Like much of the internet, it’s almost unrecognisable to people who were around for its initial incarnation. The expansion of cheap and convenient web hosting changed the way all businesses operate, impacting every way we use the internet. The history of web hosting can tell us a lot about how it exists today and provide hints for where we may be heading in the future.


The World Wide Web was originally developed for research and educational services by English scientist Tim Berner-Lee while he was employed at CERN to easily share and access information. It was released outside of CERN in 1991, with the general public gaining access in August of the same year.

This created intrigue and opportunity that was quickly jumped upon. At launch, web hosting was a luxury that was difficult to access. So how did we get from limited availability to an age of anyone being able to set up a WordPress site? When did millions of internet users in the early 1990s turn into the billions we have today?

The 1990s

At the time of release, hosting a website on the World Wide Web required the individual or company to own a computer and a server. Data storage was limited and security was only as good as what you could get to protect the unit. This lead to a somewhat muted and slow start for the internet.

In 1995, everything changed for web hosting. There was a realisation that businesses couldn’t invest heavily in the requirements of hosting a website themselves, and web hosting companies were born. Angelfire, GeoCities and Tripod launched, offering 35KB, 1MB and 2MB of storage respectively.

Throughout the decade similar web hosting companies popped up, including BlueHost and HostMonster in 1996 before the eventual purchasing of Angelfire and Tripod by Lycos in 1998. The concept of having a free website hosted by someone else wasn’t just on the rise, it had arrived.

At the end of the decade, two unique types of web hosting services had launched in Blogger and LiveJournal. They popularised the blog-publishing format, changing the way people thought about personal webpages.

The 2000s

The early 2000s saw professional level web hosting options become readily available to home users and small to medium businesses through UK services such as Pickaweb. The business of owning servers was booming, with many businesses renting out space to host websites.

This decade also saw an ever-growing Google delve into web hosting, through purchasing Blogger in 2005. WordPress launched in the same year, offering a platform for easy to set up, consistently professional web hosting for budding work from home webmasters and businesses. Suddenly blogging was a profitable industry, and still stands as a worthwhile investment today. With a basic knowledge of how web hosting works, a blogger could make money with a side business writing about their passion through charging for advertising. Many of these blogs still exist to this day with a model that has changed little from the early days of the medium. From major players to bloggers in basements, it was now well established that for a business to succeed, they needed to have some online presence.

By the end of the decade, the advent of remote web hosting had lead to a further boom in the industry. The average web host storage had grown by 1,115 times what it was just a decade earlier. 2009 brought the launch of cloud-based Apps from Google, allowing users to store powerful utilities in their free Gmail accounts. Hosting was reaching a point not dissimilar to what we see today.

Throughout this decade, the development of web hosting started to become more granular, leading to the launch of websites catering to specific needs and making the process even more simplified for the everyman. Monetising your hobby was more accessible than ever before through the use of ecommerce templates and plugins. This meant budding online retailers could get off the ground even with limited web-hosting experience.

The 2010s

Today web hosting is cheap, accessible and convenient for modern users. With it being essential for a business to have a website, more hosting platforms have appeared with a variety of package options and hosting your own server has become more reasonable of an option.

At the start of the decade, web hosting cost less than £6 for shared hosting, showing how far things had come in a short time. Accessible web hosting is common for businesses now and an everyday consideration. There has been tremendous growth and change in the industry.

The 2010s have also been the decade of the newest type of hosting, cloud services. While they were available in the previous decade, they started to gain popularity with small businesses and enterprises from 2010 onwards.

Despite initial security concerns, the cloud has developed into a foremost method of web hosting for its flexibility, simplicity and the fact it is cheaper to rent that server space. Cloud services also eliminated the issues of physical problems such as components going down or power cuts in the server area. This service allowed users to access systems anywhere with internet access, putting an emphasis on mobile connectivity.

Hosting has changed dramatically since its humble origins in the early 1990s. The change from hosting a personal site on a single server to a network of data serving a number of websites all desperate for web presence has been dramatic. It’s now something every business needs to consider and eats into every web activity from browsing to blogging. We’ve shared hosting and now we’re moving upwards towards the cloud.

This is a guest post from MicroStartups. MicroStartups is a business community that celebrates inspiring startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. Whether you’re a solopreneur or a startup making your way in the business world, we’re here to help. For the latest news, inspiring stories and actionable advice, follow them on Twitter @getmicrostarted.