What is Web Hosting? Web hosting is a service that allows organizations and individuals to post a website or web page onto the Internet. A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or web page to be viewed in the Internet. Websites are hosted, or stored, on special computers called servers. When Internet users want to view your website, all they need to do is type your website address or domain into their browser. Their computer will then connect to your server and your web pages will be delivered to them through the browser.
Most hosting companies require that you own your domain in order to host with them. If you do not have a domain, the hosting companies will help you purchase one.
Where can I purchase the domain name and hosting plan? Well, here are the 2 options:
Here are some features you should be expecting from your hosting provider:
Email Accounts: As mentioned earlier, most hosting providers require users to have their own domain name. With a domain name (e.g. www.yourwebsite.com) and email account features provided by your hosting company, you can create domain email accounts (e.g. [email protected]).
Types of Web Hosting Services:
There are various types of web hosting services available to host your website. Before signing up for web hosting services, it is important to understand what kind of service your website needs, the kind of server you or your business needs, your budget, and what type of services the web host offers.
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Hosting options available are:
- Website Builders
- Shared Hosting
- Dedicated Hosting
- Collocated Hosting
This is a type of hosting service that caters to beginners who need to host a website, but lack the technical skills and knowledge to build one. Website builder services typically provide you with an online browser-based interface to build your website, and also host the website for you without any additional setup.
Shared hosting environment is where your and other website owners shared one server. This includes sharing the physical server and the software applications within the server. Shared hosting services are affordable because the cost to operate the server is shared between you and these other owners. There are, however, a number of down sides, such as being slower.
In a dedicated hosting environment, you have the entire web server to yourself. This allows for faster performance, as you have all the server’s resources entirely, without sharing with other website owners. However, this also means that you will be responsible for the cost of server operation entirely. This is a good choice for websites that requires a lot of system resources, or need a higher level of security.
In this type of hosting, you will purchase your own server and have it housed at a web host’s facilities. You will be responsible for the server itself. An advantage of this type of hosting service is you have full control of the web server. You can install any scripts or applications you need.
Domain Name Server (DNS):
Each computer on the Internet is assigned a unique address, called an IP address. A typical IP address looks like this: 199.123.456.7
It is very difficult to keep in mind the IP addresses of all the websites we visit daily. Words are easier to remember than strings of numbers. This is where domain names come into the picture. When you visit a website, all you need to know is its URL. Computers remember numbers, and DNS helps us convert the URL into an IP address that the computer can understand.
When you type in domain.com into your browser, the browser first needs to get the IP address of www.domain.com. The browser contacts a DNS server to query the location of the server where the webpages are stored. Think of it as a directory service of IP address.
Which Web Server – Linux or Windows?
The truth of the matter is these two web server platforms are functionally equivalent, it all depends on what are your hosting needs, and what are you most comfortable with.
Both platforms differ in cost, ease of use, versatility and stability. Windows costs more than Linux.
Linux: Allows for running scripts written in PHP, Perl, Python and other Unix-originated languages. It usually supports MySQL and PostgreSQL databases
Windows: Allows for running ASP scripts and utilising .NET and other Microsoft technologies. It supports Microsoft SQL Server and Access database.
If your website does not require any scripting support, you should choose Linux hosting because they are more economical. However, if your website needs scripting and database support, you should choose the platform that supports the technologies you use.
Can I host my website on my personal computer?
Yes, you can. But before you do so, there are limitations you need to take into consideration:
- You should know how to setup a WWW server software on your computer. This is a software that allows Internet users to access the web files on your computer.
- Your Internet service provider supports you running websites on your home computer. You will need to investigate your bandwidth quota.
- Your computer has to stay on at all times. Each time you turn it off or reboot, your website will become unavailable.
- Your website will load slowly as home internet connections are not designed for serving web pages.
Shared or Dedicated?
Before you make a decision, you need to understand what your hosting needs are, as these hosting services differ in terms of performance and price.
In a shared hosting environment, several websites are put on to a single server. This way, the web host can reduce its cost, and services will be cheaper. Limitations include limits on storage and bandwidth, and the performance of your website is largely affected by the needs of the other websites, as you will be sharing the same server resources. This hosting service is ideal for websites that do not require a lot of bandwidth, disk storage or CPU consumption.
In a dedicated hosting environment, your website is the only one hosted on the server. Because you are not sharing server resources with other websites, your limit is that of the server. This hosting service is for people who plan to run a very popular website, requires a lot of disk space or run scripts that requires more than average CPU consumption.