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A Guide to Understanding Web Hosting

January 27th, 2014 by

A Guide to Understanding Web Hosting

Jack MeHoff on June 6, 2011

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Reference | in Complex Hosting Guides,Vps Hosting Guides,Web Hosting Guides | by Jack MeHoff

If you already have an established brick and motar business you’re probably looking to keep up with others and ever advancing technology which means taking you’re business to the web. Of course you’ll need a website, a catchy domain name that represents your business but is that all? In a simple answer no, it will take a lot more than just those two things, I’ll be it even more than what can be covered in the scope of this small article in which we will of course be covering web hosting. As you’ll find out while reading through this article even something such as picking out web hosting can be a daunting task, with many considerations to be made. Let’s get started with some of the basics and then we’ll be able to move on to more advanced considerations later.nWhat is web hosting anyway?n nnSimply put, web hosting can be described as renting space on a web server or in some cases renting the whole server. Websites are pretty complicated and are not just a domain name, rather it’s a collection of files that are linked together by HTML code to display text and graphics on a computer. In order to let the rest of the world see these files, they will need to be stored on a computer somewhere that has access to the internet. Don’t be fooled by thinking just any old computer will fo the job, you will need a computer that is setup to be web server it needs to be loaded with special software that will allow it to receive requests from the internet for the files that make up the web site after recieving those requests it will need to send those files out over the internet to the requesting computer so the web sites “visitor” can see the site.nA web server needs to perform many other tasks as well in order to provide you with the many other important services needed to run a website. One of them will be creating email addresses using your domain name allowing you to send professional looking emails. Depending on what you’ll need to display on your web site your web server will need other various types of software installed on it that allow it to run the nessary programs to, create and manage databases, display video, and many other functions that may be needed by a website.nWhen buying webhosting, there will usually be a monthly fee involved which goes toward the continued maintenance and upgrading of the server’s hardware and software, along with the cost of keeping it online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in a data center with a very fast internet connection. On top of all this it will also go to paying employees of the web hosting company, which use their expertise to keep all this running safe and secure. It is possible to run your own web server from your home or office, but in most cases it is far more economical to pay someone else who is dedicated to providing this service in a properly reliable manner than it would be to do this yourself.nAre there different kinds of web hosting?nYes there are many different kinds of web hosting available, and the list seems to be regularly growing as great advances are made in technology. This article will only cover the basic and most common ways of hosting a website for a small business.nShared Hosting – This type of hosting will support most small business websites, as long as it’s not some monster filled with thousands of pages and hundreds of thousands of files and graphics. Which is usually not the case, most small business websites will have less than one hundred pages and will focus on getting the attention of a particular target audience, meaning most will not get as many visitors as say a large general site such as Yahoo!. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that the average website will not require the full resources of an entire web server to run it. Most web servers are able to handle dozens, if not even hundreds of websites on the same machine (these are powerful machines running powerful software).nShared web hosting is simply the concept of hosting more than one website on a particular server. A great many of all websites on the Internet today are being run in a shared hosting environment. Now that Repair Computer we know many websites are running on the same webserver, it’s possible to conclude that the costs will also be split. This means that a shared web hosting plan can be purchased for a very low monthly rate. It’s important to note that shared hosting packages are generally limited in terms that each client will be allotted a certain amount of each resource, with different payment levels representing different amounts of resources such as disk space, bandwidth, email addresses, and so on.nDedicated Hosting – This type of webhosting of course will get you a whole web server dedicated just to your web site. In the case that you do have a massive, powerful website that will got many visitors and will need all the resources it can get ahold of, this is the type of web hosting you should be looking into. There are also some added benefits dedicated web hosting will be able to provide that shared web hosting wouldn’t such as security this is because you will not have to share the server with anyone else meaning you won’t have to worry about anybody else possibly crashing it with their site. With dedicated hosting the web hosting company still owns the machine and has the responsibility for maintaining the hardware, software, and all the other tasks that go with running and maintaining a web server. However with that being said you’ll still have greater control over the configuration of the server and what extra software will be installed on it.nVPS Hosting – In recent years with advancments in technology virtual private server (VPS) hosting has come into play. This is a cross between dedicated and shared web hosting. In most cases there will only be about four users sharing the server for their own needs, but you will have more control of what goes on your server in terms of software. Also with such a small number of users sharing the webserver the resources will be split more evenly meaning that you won’t have to “fight” to get the resources which are promised to you. This is a good opition if you need a little more freedom of your server but don’t want the costs of a full dedicated server.nServer Operating SystemsnThe terms UNIX hosting and Windows hosting refer to the operating system (OS) which is used to run the web server. The operating system, of course, is the software that allows the computer to function and manage all of the other hardware and software that is installed on it. In the world of personal computers Windows is the leading operating system by far and large, however there are some other operating systems that are growing in popularity which are Macintosh and various versions of Linux. However, the operating system you use on your computer is irrelevant to which type of hosting you choose. Here are some of the main features of UNIX and Windows:nUNIX HostingnThis is by far the most popular operating system of web servers in the world today. There are many different distributions of the UNIX operating system, and as it turns out it was originally developed by universities especially for servers and networking, many of the different versions that have been written are released under the open-source protocol, which means that the code for the operating system is openly available for programmers to customize and make improvements. Linux and BSD are the most popular forms of UNIX and come in many varieties, such as Red Hat Linux, Debian, OpenSuSE, and FreeBSD. Most of these versions (and much of the software that runs on them) can be obtained for free, which of course makes UNIX hosting the less expensive choice for web hosting companies and in turn the savings get passed down to the webmasters. UNIX hosting platforms are generally considered to be stable, secure, powerful and fast. Most web programming applications can be performed by software that is available for a UNIX platform. “UNIX hosting” has become a generic term to refer to any platform that is derived from the original UNIX.nWindows HostingnMicrosoft has developed its own operating system for use with web servers and is a special verison of its Windows operating system, called Windows Server. It is a commercial product which requires the purchase of a license, which increases the cost of operation for the web host and usually results in higher hosting prices. Windows is designed to be user friendly, but it is generally considered to be less powerful and less secure than other types of web hosting environments. ASP, ASP.NET, and ColdFusion are scripting languages which will only run on a Windows server, as will the Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Access database programs. If you are planning on developing your website with any of these technologies you will certainly need to look for a hosting company that offers Windows web hosting.nWhat are some of the terms I need to know when I choose a web host?nDisk Space or Storage – Because your website is a collection of files being offered on the internet for viewing, they have to be stored somewhere for retrieval and take up space. Each web server has a finite amount of hard disk memory to divide up and offer to hosting customers. Typically that space is divided up by different package levels so that the more you pay, the more space you are allowed to store pictures, web pages, videos and whatever other files you like on the web server’s Repair Computer hard drive. If your website gets bigger than the space you are given, you will need to purchase more disk space from the web host.nBandwidth or Data Transfer – Whenever you visit a website and view a page, you are transfering a copy of the files that make up that page over the internet from the web server to your computer. If the page you are viewing consists of an HTML file that is 3KB in size and three pictures of 47KB, 100KB and 250 KB, then you have just used 400KB of bandwidth or data transfer, because that is the total amount of data you just downloaded from the web server to view that page. Bandwidth is a commodity like disk space that the web host has to buy from its internet service provider, so it too is divided up and offered to the customers in specific amounts. Bandwidth amounts are usually measured in gigabytes (GB), because while only one copy of your files needs to be stored on the server, thousands or even millions of copies may be downloaded for viewing. If your website is viewed more times than the amount of bandwidth you are allowed can handle, your website may be turned off until the next billing period starts, or you may simply be billed for the excess amount used, depending on your host’s policies. You can always purchase more bandwidth as your site’s traffic increases.nUptime – In an ideal world, every web server would be up and running and offering your web pages to the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week forever. However, web servers are computers, and like any other computer, things happen to make them fail, or they get old and out of date and require maintenance and repair. When a web host gives you a 99% uptime guarantee, they are saying that the web server will be up and running for 99% of the billing period. If they fail to meet this guarantee, most web hosts will refund a certain portion of your money depending on the amount of excess downtime they experienced.nTraffic Statistics – Website traffic statistics programs try to track visitors to your website. They can track how many times your site was visited, how many visitors were unique and how many returned more than once, which pages were most popular, where the visitors came to your site from, what search terms they used in the search engines, and many other types of information which could be useful to you in marketing your website to a target audience. These statistics can be displayed in tables, graphs and charts by hour, day, week, month or year. Some statistics programs are better than others and offer more types of data, better displays, easier navigation or other useful features. Most web hosts today offer some sort of traffic statistics software with their hosting packages.nCGI Scripts – Many web hosts offer a variety of free CGI scripts with their packages. These are things like hit counters, guestbooks, form mail programs, message boards, and other programs that allow your website to perform commonly desired functions. You can use the ones your host provides you with or you can upload and run custom CGI scripts written by yourself or somebody else to perform different tasks like conducting a survey or processing customer information to produce an automatic price quote. Most CGI scripts are written in common programming languages like Perl, PHP or ASP.nYou could spend a long time trying to learn everything there is to know about web hosting, but if you’ve read this far then you should be armed with the basic knowledge you need to understand what different web hosts are offering you. Your next task is to figure out what you need and go out and find a host that wants to give it to you at a great price!

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Read the Digital Edition – This issue touches on the impact cloud computing has had on the web hosting industry. Managed service providers have had to adapt in one way or another to the ways that customers – from the enterprise to the small and medium-sized business, and even the individual website owner – do business online.

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