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What is web hosting? Web Hosting could be defined as the service that provides website owners with space on the Internet for their sites and also lets other users to view that website. Web hosting services store your website files in web servers or high-powered computers that are linked to a very fast network.
For better understanding of web hosting, it is important to explain that a website is actually a set of different computer files such as HTML files, images, videos… that are linked together. After typing any web address into a browser, the Internet will connect to the server that is keeping a website’s files and then pull site information to their computer. Web hosting companies also perform hosting software maintenance, upgrades, and repairs as needed to keep the websites they serve online without interruption.
A web host provider, or simply web host, is the company whose main task is to host and maintain the web server holding the website files.
Website owners can choose among thousands of web hosting providers, starting from those that offer free limited services to those that are specialized for business web hosting and cost a lot.
Hosting services can be divided in four main groups:
Shared Server Hosting
Shared Server Hosting means that a website is stored on the server which holds many other sites. Server resources like RAM and the CPU are shared among hundreds or even thousands domains. Hosting on this type of server is usually inexpensive and it is suitable for websites that have average traffic and use standard software.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
This kind of hosting splits a server into several virtual servers and it seems like each website has their own server, but actually there is just one server shared between a few users. This hosting is safe and owner has more control at the server level.
Popular VPS hosting companies: Dreamhost
Dedicated Server Hosting
Dedicated hosting is a type of hosting services that allows you full control over the web server where your website is stored. This means that you rent an entire server and you don’t have to share it with other websites.
This is actually a group of servers working together to host several websites and making “a cloud”. This is a good way to achieve unlimited ability to handle high traffic.
Popular cloud hosting companies: Amazon AWS
Understanding Domain Names
Before the website is uploaded to server it is necessary to get the domain name, or the name of your website. Domain name is a set of characters that provides an identity for your website. In order to get a domain website owner needs to register it with a domain registrar or let the host provider to do it for him/her.
Domain registration is different from web hosting. Both services could be provided by one company or two different organizations. A domain name can be registered at: GoDaddy, Domain.com, NameCheap, Network Solutions… Domain registration is determined by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
As it is mentioned earlier, there is thousands of a web hosting providers that could be easily found by browsing the Internet. The valuable source of the information about hosting companies could be recommendation of your friends or colleagues. But before you make a decision which Web host is the best for you, think carefully about your basic requirements:
Web hosting can costs from free to hundreds of dollars a month. Typically, if you pay more you’ll have less to worry about. When you think about money you have to spend on web hosting think about things like site management software, file upload, online HTML editors, and templates.
When you choose a host you have to think about offered space. It is important to anticipate how much the site will grow. Images, Flash, PDF documents, databases, programs could occupy a lot of space include.
Programs and Scripts
The least you should look for is a hosting provider that will let you access to a CGI-BIN folder in order to add scripts later.
It is important to have access your site to make changes to it. It is possible to have FTP access from anywhere or to use only the online tool.
This is very important service that your host can offer since your site might have problems. The support will help you get it run again.
Does the hosting provider own my website?
Only if you have programmed the website yourself or make an agreement with web designer and developer, you will own the source code of your site. Also if you are an author of the interface design, you own all of the website visual design.
How much does web hosting cost?
The cost of web hosting goes from free to several hundred dollars per month depending on what type of website you want to run, how many visits the page will have, and all the features you wish to use.
Small business website or simple blog page will not require expensive website hosting. The one that can be purchased for $3.99 – $7.99 per month will offer enough features. If the website receive millions visits daily, dedicated server is a good solution. But it can cost from $100.00 to $500.00 per month. Under this price web hosting provider offers a trustworthy high speed connection and a lot of bandwidth or data transfer.
What is bandwidth?
Bandwidth is the amount of data that has been transferred from the server of the web host to the visitor’s computer. More visitors you have, greater amount of bandwidth you will need. Before you make the decision on which host provider you will use, think about bandwidth. Many of website owners do not plan that their site will be so popular so they might find themselves dealing with shutting their site down due to too many visits. If you want to prevent this, carefully measure your future bandwidth usage.
What is disk space or storage space?
Disk space or storage space is the amount of space you will get to keep your web hosting account. Since your website is a set of files such as HTML pages, photos, graphics, scripts etc. you should have enough space on the hard drive of the web server. How much storage space you will pay for to your web host depends on the size of the files you will upload. Keep in mind that your site will grow by the time and it will demand more space.
Usually a small personal website with average traffic will need 50 – 100 MB of storage space and 1 GB of data transfer per month.
If you want to create your own website first thing you have to consider is the web hosting that will provide you with proper features to that will place your site on the Internet. Before you decide which host you will use, get the domain name and try to determine what kind of the site you want, what basic requirements do you have considering cost, space, support, accessibility, programs and scripts.
There are a thousand of the hosting companies that will offer you their services that could be free or may cost from few dollars to several hundred dollars per month. Beware that less money you pay, less features you’ll get.
Web hosts aren’t the owner of your site, but keep in mind that you typically have to make an ownership agreement with website developers and designers if you use their services. On the other end, think carefully about the future of your website. Try to guess what amount of data will be transferred and how much of storage space you will need since your site may have grown.