Your “web host” is also often referred to as your “server.” It’s the place where your web pages and files are located (i.e., hosted). It took me a while to get my head wrapped around the concept of web hosting, so let me give you my most simple analogy.
Think of your traditional home or office telephone service. If you have voice mail, rather than a physical answering machine (another soon-to-be relic), your custom greeting may be something like; “Hi, this is Alex. I’m not able to take your call right now…” This custom greeting is “hosted” with your phone company. That’s because there’s not an actual/physical answering machine at your home/office. Your greeting is actually sitting somewhere on a computer connected with the phone company.
Your website works much the same way. A third-party company hosts the information that you create for your website and makes it available for anyone else around the world to locate, visit, and browse.
There are dozens and dozens of reputable web hosting providers out there. Many people use GoDaddy because that is where many domain names are purchased. But, I find their constant up-selling annoying and their navigation/usability very confusing for regular folks.
I highly recommend another large and reliable company, www.BlueHost.com, because it’s inexpensive (less than $70 a year), it’s as user-friendly as anything out there, and it’s been the most reliable for me. Most importantly, they have excellent 24/7 phone support. Another very popular choice is www.hostgator.com.
Every website needs a web host or server. Unless you have super-privacy reasons or heavy-duty software that runs off your website, you don’t need your own dedicated server (which can be expensive and a big headache). A shared-hosting provider like bluehost.com or hostgator.com should work fine for most folks.