What is Web Hosting?
Your web site is a collection of web pages. In order for others to view your web pages, you must publish them on a web server. You can configure your own PC as a web server if it is connected to a network. However it is most common to use a web host (also known as an Internet Service Provider or ISP).
What is a Web Host?
A web host is a company who rents out web space and bandwidth to those who wish to publish a web site. The web host gives its customer an account, which can be used to upload web pages (HTML documents), graphics and more.
A web host has computer servers that are hooked up to the internet 24/7. These servers are assigned IP numbers in order that they may be found by other computers hooked up to the internet.
When you type a web address into the address bar of your browser and then hit ‘Enter’, your browser sends out a request to 'get' that web page. The request goes across the internet to the appropriate web server to locate the web page on that server. If the web page is found then it will be displayed on your web browser. Popular browsers include Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.
These web hosting servers and supporting infrastructures are costly to set up, configure and maintain and thus web hosting providers typically charge you a monthly or yearly fee. Their services allow you to upload your web pages to their server and make them perpetually ready for download or viewing by visitors to your web site.
Web hosting has become a very competitive business and, in order to entice more customers to sign up with them, web hosts now offer very attractive deals or web hosting packages.
How Much Does it Cost?
Some ISPs offer free web hosting. Most however offer paid web hosting.
Free web hosting is suitable for small sites with low traffic, like personal sites. It is not recommended for high traffic or for real business as technical support is often limited, technical options are few and security options almost non-existent.
Most of the time you cannot use your own domain name at a free site. This is not very professional. Furthermore most web host displays advertisement on your web pages to compensate for providing you with free hosting.
I strongly recommend paid hosting as it is highly affordable. You can get full feature web hosting for multiple website for a just few dollars a month. And it normally includes email services.
Windows or Linux/Unix Hosting
Windows hosting means hosting of web services that runs on the Windows server operating system. You would choose Windows hosting if you plan to use ASP (Active Server Pages) server scripting or databases such as Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL Server.
Unix or Linux hosting means hosting of web services that runs on the Linux or Unix operating system. You would choose Unix/Linux hosting if you plan to use PHP (PHP Hypertext Preprocessor) server scripting or databases such as MySQL or PostgresSQL. Unix and Linux are well known for their reliability and stability and is usually less expensive than Windows.
What is ASP and PHP?
ASP is a server-side scripting technology developed by Microsoft. With ASP you can create dynamic web pages by putting script code inside your HTML pages. The code is executed by the web server before the page is returned to the browser.
PHP is the widely-used, free, and efficient alternative. PHP is perfectly suited for Web development, like ASP, and can be embedded directly into the HTML code.
The PHP syntax is very similar to Perl and C. PHP supports many databases, such as MySQL, Informix, Oracle, Sybase, Solid, PostgreSQL, etc.
There are other server scripting languages such as JSP (Java Server Pages) developed by Sun and Cold Fusion developed by Adobe. Make sure that your web host supports them if you plan to use them on your website.
Type of Hosting
With shared hosting your website/s are hosted on a server with a few hundred other websites. The server’s resources such as computing cycles, memory and bandwidth are shared by all the websites. It is good for small business and sites with average traffic. There are usually restrictions on traffic volume, database and software support. However since it the most common type of hosting, technical support is usually good.
With Virtual Private Servers (VPS) a dedicated server is partitioned into multiple servers that each has the appearance and capabilities of a dedicated machine. Each virtual server can run its own full-fledged operating system, and each server can be independently rebooted. You can upgrade your hard drive and memory as you require. Because resources are not shared, hosted applications or websites are much faster as well as more secured.
With dedicated hosting the entire resources of the server is dedicated to your website. Dedicated hosting is the most expensive option. It is best suited for large web sites with high traffic. Dedicated hosting is very powerful and secure, with almost unlimited software solutions.
With cloud hosting a website is hosting on multiple connected servers or clustered servers. Instead of limited to a single server, the website now has access to multiple servers. The processing power is unlimited as you can always add a new server and scale up. Cloud hosting providers charge their users based on the quantity of computing power consumed much like your electricity and water supply bills.
Finally there is Collocated Hosting. With co-location hosting, you place your own web server on the premises (locations) of a service provider. It is pretty much the same as running your own server in your own office, only that it is located at a place better designed for it. Most likely an ISP will have dedicated resources like high-security against fire and vandalism, regulated backup power, dedicated Internet connections and more.
Things to Consider with a Web Host or ISP
Make sure your web host offers 24-hours support. Don't put yourself in a situation where you cannot fix critical problems without having to wait until the next working day. Toll-free phone could be vital if you don't want to pay for long distance calls.
Make sure your ISP runs daily data backups. Otherwise you may lose some valuable data.
Study the ISP's traffic volume restrictions. Make sure that you don't have to pay a fortune for unexpected high traffic if your web site becomes popular.
Study the ISP's bandwidth and content restrictions. If you plan to publish pictures or broadcast video or sound, make sure that you can.
Make sure your ISP supports the e-mail capabilities you need.
And if you plan to use data from databases on your web site, make sure your ISP supports the database type that you need.
Selecting your Web Host Checklist
Before you choose your web host, make sure that the hosting type is suitable for your needs and is cost effective. You should expect site traffic to increase over time and you should ensure that you can upgrade to a better server or even a dedicated one.
Before you sign up with an ISP, surf some other web sites on their servers, and try to get a good feeling about their network speed. Also compare the other sites against yours, to see if it looks like you have the same needs. Finally contacting some of your friends for an opinion is also a valuable option.
- What is a Domain Name?
- How to Register a Domain Name?
- What is Cloud Computing?
- How to Transfer a Domain Name?
- Expired Domain Names
- DNS - Domain Name System
- How to Get a Domain Name?
- What is Domain Parking?
- Who is a Domain Name Registrar?
- Get a Free Domain Name
- Check Domain Name Availability
- Setup up your Own Domain Email
- How to Buy a Domain?
- Domain Age and History
- Domain Forwarding and Sub Domains
- Domain Names Trivia
- Who is a Domain Name Registry
- What are Top Level Domains?
- Domain Name Registration Tips
- Domain Name Generator
- About EDU Domain
- Find a Domain Name
- Domain Name LookUp
- Canadian Domains
- Malaysian Domains
- A Beginner's Guide to Internationalized Domains
- What is Web Hosting?
- What is Shared Hosting?
- What is Dedicated Hosting?
- Different Types of Web Hosting
- What is VPS Hosting?
- What is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)?
- What is Unlimited Hosting?
- Introduction to Blog Hosting
- Understanding Virtual Hosting
- About Co-location Hosting
- What is Exchange Hosting?
- What is PHP Hosting?