Do you have an app that you need to host, but you don’t know how hosting works and why you need it? Want to know what mobile App hosting is? In this article we’ll discuss hosting for mobile apps in detail and give practical advice on how to choose the best one. Read the article to find out what mobile App hosting is and how to connect it correctly.
Is hosting for a mobile app really necessary? Or you can do without it? Do you need a domain for an iOS app? How much will it cost? Struggling with the answers to these questions? Well, stick around and we’ll get it all sorted out.
After reading this, you’ll know where software, applications, and files are located in the computing world, how they work, and how to bring a mobile application to a large audience at a reasonable price.
Hosting is a duet of hardware and software platforms on which websites and applications run.
The simplest way to understand how hosting for mobile apps works is to imagine a computer (called a server) containing an application’s files, which is always on and makes the app or any information in it accessible to developers and users 24/7. That’s it.
Basically, programmers write code, create databases, connect all the necessary components, and then upload them to the server of their choice. Thereafter, the app becomes available for everyone who installs it or accesses it via a web browser.
It depends on what you want to get from the application and how it is structured. For example, if you’ve created some sort of task manager that can be launched independently on a user’s phone or tablet, you don’t have to host it on any kind of server. But what if you want to synchronize data from the app between different devices? Or create a large-scale service with remote access to an extensive media collection (like Spotify or Netflix)? Then you need a server where all the data will be stored.
The operating system doesn’t matter. If you are here reading this because you can't decide whether Android apps need to be hosted or not, the above answer applies. The same goes for apps for iOS, macOS, Windows, and Linux. The only exception is web applications.
Does an app need a website?
Technically, no. A mobile app can operate without a website, so it’s up to you whether to create one or do without.
You can also use a website for marketing and SEO purposes. Create a simple landing page with more info on your application and containing relevant keywords that will help people find your app using search engines.
And what does an app need to connect to a website? Nothing. They can exist independently. And there’s no reason to bind them.
Does an app need a domain?
It depends on whether the app is going to work with different types of requests like a website, such as GET and POST, used to transfer information to and from users. If that’s the case, the answer to the question is: “Yes, the app needs a domain.”
Okay, there is actually a way to handle requests using IP addresses, but then the webmaster has to buy a static IP, which is as pricey as a proper DNS setup. That’s why webmasters recommend using services like dyn.com. Because even mobile apps need a domain.
For the most part, like websites. They are hosted on remote servers which are administered by hosting providers. For example, DigitalOcean is a provider. It has a data center with a vast array of powerful servers, which it allows app makers to use on various terms.
What kind of terms? Let’s take a closer look and compare different ways of hosting software with different companies.
Here we answer the question: “Where are applications hosted?” Every mobile service or program consists of a series of files, and these files must be stored somewhere so that users can work with them.
You have four common options to choose from. If you’ve ever hosted a website, you already know at least three of them. If not, you’ll learn them all now.
A shared server (or virtual hosting) is a predetermined amount of processor power and hard drive space for storing your app’s files. A shared server is always on and powers your program.
The main advantages of this kind of hosting are low pricing and an easy setup process. The main disadvantages are limited performance and a lot of technical restrictions.
This option is appropriate if you’re going to host an application that requires few system resources and won’t unexpectedly take off and expand.
A virtual private server (VPS) is a fully functional virtual machine that imitates real computer capabilities. You can install any operating system on a VPS, use it with any software tools and utilities you find necessary, etc.
A VPS is partially managed by the hosting provider (who usually optimizes the server to achieve the expected performance). But everything else is on the “tenant,” who pays for the VDS and stores the files of their software product there.
A VPS is a balanced choice between shared and dedicated servers. It offers more power and control, and is not as expensive as a dedicated server.
This is a real computer — a physical server that is located somewhere in the provider’s data center and belongs to you (as long as you pay, of course). It can be used for creating and hosting an application of any kind without software limitations. A dedicated server is a great choice for those who are eager to achieve maximal compatibility, stability, and performance, and are willing to pay for it.
In a nutshell, a cloud cluster is like a large group of VDSs (virtual dedicated server). A cloud cluster is a big stack of virtual servers that are located on different physical servers and sometimes even in different countries. A cloud cluster can be seen as an extensive infrastructure that is constantly scaling to meet the application’s requirements. The more people use the app, the more hardware resources are allocated to the cluster.
This is the best choice for those who create an enormous web service and want to be ready to ramp up the customer base at any moment. Products like Spotify, Telegram, Facebook, and thousands of others run on these types of servers.
We’ve discussed different types of servers. Let’s discuss what an app hosting service is and what kinds of services we have to choose from.
Infrastructure as a Service. With this type of hosting, you gain full control of a server and must set it up on your own. The provider provides the hardware and a webmaster has to initialize the OS, build the database, connect the domain, etc.
It's a little like owning a car. The driver can drive it wherever and however they want. But at the same time the driver is solely responsible for maintaining, fueling, and repairing the car.
VDS and dedicated servers fall under the category of IaaS.
Platform as a Service implies a hosting provider to set up the hardware, operating system, database, and basic software in advance. All you have to do is upload your files and sort them all out so that the app can function as expected.
Let’s return to our car example. PaaS is like car sharing. Under this model drivers have certain limitations. They can’t leave the city, can’t change any part of the cars, and can’t park them in their own garages, but these drivers spend much less time and money on car ownership.
This is how shared servers and cloud clusters work, and these can be categorized as PaaS.
This is usually the best hosting method for most apps. Developers can concentrate on their primary tasks, while the PaaS does the rest.
Software as a Service. This is actually an app — a functional product that helps to achieve the user’s aims without setting anything up.
Once again, using the car example, SaaS is like Uber. You do nothing with the car itself. The hired driver will get you from point A to point B. Responsibility for maintenance, repairs, fueling, and anything else lies either with the driver or with the service administrators.
Some cloud clusters work this way, providing access to software but giving no access to its internal workings.
There are two popular solutions:
You can rent a full-fledged server from Amazon Web Services or DigitalOcean and deploy your application there by yourself — install all the essential tools and utilities, set up a domain, optimize it, etc.
Or you can use hosting platforms like Hostman or Heroku. These are PaaS products that let development teams work on the app and forget all about deployment. Just two or three clicks, and your project is on the World Wide Web.
Using PaaS, any webmaster can quickly and easily host the frontend and backend of their project. With Hostman, you only need to connect a repository to the service, select the frameworks or coding languages, build your app, and deploy it. Hostman will give you a domain, an SSL certificate, and anything else needed.
How much do you know about Amazon? You’re probably aware that it is the world’s biggest web marketplace. But it’s also the biggest web hosting provider on the planet. AWS (a sub-brand of Amazon) is used by many major corporations and developers around the globe.
So if you ask where Facebook applications are hosted, the answer would be AWS. If you ask where Appian apps are hosted, the answer would be the same — AWS. The same is true for lots of big companies, including Apple, Snapchat, etc.
But that doesn’t mean you should rush right out to rent an AWS server. Facebook’s choice of hosting is based on the nature of its products. They are gigantic. Billions of people all over the world use WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook itself. There’s no way that the company could get by using ordinary servers. They need some hefty cloud clusters to make those Social media giants run smoothly and be available for everyone whatever the circumstances. For smaller apps, however, there are much cheaper and simpler solutions.
What hosting method is best for mobile apps? The choice depends entirely on the task and the software instruments used. If you want to have full control of the server and the app, you’ll want to check out some popular hosting providers. Where are the best apps hosted? They are usually hosted on platforms like DigitalOcean, AWS, Microsoft Azure, or another “classic” server with appropriate specifications.
For instance, these will provide you with SSL certificates (a utility that encrypts user data) and access to DNS settings. Furthermore, every webmaster should check the uptime of their hosting service. Best-in-class servers have an uptime of 99%. Furthermore, good hosting services have a security system that mitigates DDoS attacks and blocks malware. And, of course, the cost of hosting your application needs to be a good value.
Additionally, you should look for providers that support the software tools and frameworks used in your project. For example, Hostman works with React, Angular, Node.js, Python, Django, Flask, Ruby on Rails, etc. So if you have a question like “How do I host a React app?” the answer depends on the capabilities of the platform selected. Check them out before renting a server or cluster.
The best choice is to use PaaS products like Hostman or Heroku. Both use the most reliable infrastructures like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure, but at the same time they simplify the deployment process, so you get the best of both worlds.
A basic server with a hosting service like DigitalOcean will cost about $5 per month. For this price the developer or webmaster will get a server with 1 GB of RAM, 25 GB of SSD storage, and the ability to transfer 1000 GB of data per month. For the same price, you can get an automatically scaled app platform with no static hardware specifications.
If you want a more predictable pricing system and are wondering where to find one, try Hostman. With this service you can choose a budget server for basic applications with one 3.2 GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM, and 25 GB of SSD storage for $5.50. Or you can get a powerful platform with six 3.2 GHz CPUs, 16 GB of RAM, and 320 GB on the fastest SSD for $72.80.
The final price may vary depending on the user base and hardware requirements of the product. But by using platforms like Hostman you will consistently get the best possible value, balanced between simplicity, stability, high performance, and reasonable price.
That’s it. Now you know whether an app maker needs a domain or not, how to choose hosting for a mobile application, and the most straightforward way to set it all up.