- What is Hosting?
- What do these terms mean?
- Choosing a Web Hosting Service.
Section 1: What is Web Hosting
Web Hosting or 'Hosting' is a service provided by a vendor which offers a physical location for the storage of web pages and files. Think of a Web Hosting Company as a type of landlord, they rent physical space on their servers allowing webpages to be viewed on the Internet.
Section 2: What do these terms mean?
Below are many of the terms you will need to be familiar with in order to understand your web hosting options.
2.1 What is a Web Server?
Generally used in reference to the computer hardware that provides World Wide Web services on the Internet, a Web server includes the hardware, operating system, server software, TCP/IP protocols and the Web site content. Web servers process requests from Browsers for web pages and serves them up via HTTP.
2.2 What is HTTP?
HyperText Transfer Protocol - the underlying protocol used by the World Wide Web. HTTP defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what action Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands. For example, when you enter a URL in your browser, this actually sends an HTTP command to the Web server directing it to fetch and transmit the requested Web page.
2.3 What is a Domain Name?
An addressing construct used for identifying and locating computers on the Internet. Domain names provide a system of easy-to-remember Internet addresses, which can be translated by the Domain Name System (DNS) into the numeric addresses (Internet Protocol (IP) numbers) used by a network. (CoffeeCup.com is a domain name as is Google.com)
2.4 What is an IP Address?
Every computer connected to the Internet must have a unique address known as an IP (Internet Protocol) address. The IP address is a numeric address written as a set of four numbers separated by dots, for example 188.8.131.52. The address provides a unique identification of a computer and the network it belongs to.
2.5 What does URL stand for?
Uniform Resource Locator - the global address of documents and other resources on the World Wide Web. The first part of the address indicates what protocol to use, and the second part specifies the IP address or the domain name where the resource is located. http://www.coffeecup.com/ is the URL for CoffeeCup Software.
2.6 What does DNS stand for?
Domain Name System - a system of mapping names to IP addresses. Because domain names are alphabetic, they're easier for humans to remember. The Internet, however, is really based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, DNS translates the name into the corresponding IP address. It is similar to a phonebook for the Internet.
2.7 What does FTP stand for?
File Transfer Protocol - Allows the transfer of one or more files from one computer to another across the Internet. Usually from a personal computer to a Server or vice versa. FTP is fully covered here
2.8 What is Uploading?
Uploading - Is the transferring of files from your local computer to a remote computer, usually a server.
2.9 What is Downloading
Downloading - Is the transferring of files from a remote computer to your local computer.
2.10 What is E-Mail
As most people already know E-mail stands for Electronic Mail and is now an integral part of business and personal communication.
2.11 What are POP and SMTP servers?
Post Office Protocol is the most common protocol used to retrieve e-mail from a mail server. Most e-mail applications (sometimes called an e-mail client) use the POP protocol, although some can use the newer IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). The newest version, POP3, can be used with or without SMTP (an e-mail sending protocol, stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). IMAP servers are similar to POP servers, the only difference being they save the e-mail so they can be retrieved from multiple locations or multiple users.
2.12 What is WebMail?
WebMail - Provides the user an interface on the Internet so they can access their e-mail messages from any computer.
2.13 What is a CGI Service
CGI stands for Common Gateway Interface. CGI provides a method to interface a computer program with an HTML page. CGI programs can be written to do many different things, which includes: counting visitors to your web site; processing data obtained from online forms; and creating simple animations. If you want any of these features it is essential that your host includes a CGI Service usually in the form of a CGI-bin.
2.14 What is Bandwidth?
Bandwidth in respect to hosting, is the amount of information that can be transferred from the server to a Browser. Hosts usually limit the amount of bandwidth a user has available per month. As an example, if you had a file on your site that was 1mb and you had 1Gb of bandwidth, users could download the file 1000 total times.
2.15 What is Disk Space?
Disk Space - the total physical amount of hard drive space a host allows a user to have.
2.16 What is a Dedicated Server?
A Dedicated Server is one that only has a single website running on it. Rather than a shared server which has multiple websites being served up.
Section 3: Choosing a Web Hosting Service.
When choosing a Web Hosting company there are many things you need to keep in mind. Things like: Do I have FTP access? Do I receive E-mail and how many accounts do I get? How much Disk Space am I allocated? What is my bandwidth limit? What happens if I go over my monthly bandwidth limit? Does my account have a CGI-bin? What types of support does the host offer? What if I need a dedicated Server, can I get one? Are any ads placed on my site? Do I receive and free software with my account? All these questions should be asked before you choose a Web Host.
3.1 Free vs. Subscription
There are two types of hosting companies. Hosting companies that will host your site for free, Lycos' Tripod.com are examples of free hosts, and companies that will host your site if you pay a monthly/yearly fee like Blue Domino, GoDaddy, or eNom. So why doesn't everyone choose the free sites? Free sites are very limiting, and don't allow you to store much on your pages. You will probably not be able to run cgi-scripts. Worse, you may not be able to choose a domain name, and you will probably have annoying banners on your site. By paying for a site, you get flexibility and capabilities beyond what any free site could give you.
3.2 Where to start looking.
Now that you are armed with all the right questions, you need a starting point; Google.com is a great place to find thousands, if not millions of hosting companies. If you are a bit scared by those numbers then you may want to ask a friend who has a webpage, where they host. Or you can ask your ISP if they have any recommendations. Or you could ask the company who provides your web design software who they recommend.
3.3 Support is the deciding factor.
When making the final decision between one host or another, ALWAYS choose the one that offers the more comprehensive support. The host should offer at least 24/7 phone support. Bluedomino, our Web Hosting Service offers 24/7 phone support as well as 24/7 Live Chat and e-mail. You should now be prepared to go out into the wide world and find a Web Hosting Service that is offering exactly what you want.