Hosting - A Guide for Beginners
Web Hosting - A Guide for Beginners
So you’re looking to learn about web hosting
and what it has to offer or you may not know much about web hosting?
There is no shame in not knowing this information. Everyone has
to start at the beginning at some point. On that note, lets begin
learning about web hosting.
First off, what is web hosting and how does it work?
Web hosting is the business practice of providing space and bandwidth
on a high-powered computer server that is connected to the Internet
at very high speeds. Hosting companies maintain large networks of
high-powered web server computers in a physical location known as
a data center. These computer servers are connected to a very fast,
and generally redundant, Internet connection. The data centers have
primary and backup power, a fast connection to the Internet, and
a security monitoring staff.
The web hosting companies provide a share of disk space and available
bandwidth to a customer for a monthly fee. Once the customer is
signed up, they can upload files to their personal space on the
web server and the information is then viewable to anyone interested
on the Internet. The monthly fee the web hosting company charges
is much less than what it would cost to run a server out of your
own home or data center. This is the reason these companies exist.
They take care of all the hardware, software, and other technical
needs for you.
Types of web hosting
There are many different types of web hosting offers, but the main
three are shared, reseller, and dedicated. Each type of hosting
is for a different purpose.
Shared Web Hosting
Shared web hosting is the most popular form of hosting. Shared
hosting is a portion of disk space and bandwidth provided to you
by the web hosting company on a high-powered server. There are many
other web sites hosted on this server, and the hosting company is
likely to have quite a few of these servers in a large data center.
The resources of the server are shared by as many other websites
as are allocated to that computer.
Shared web hosting is the best form of web hosting if you are looking
for a great price and don’t have more than a couple thousand
daily visitors to your site.
Reseller Web Hosting
Reseller web hosting is a popular, low-cost solution to starting
your own web hosting business. There are two types of reseller hosting,
private-label and a reseller of services.
The private-label is the best type of reseller plan because it
allows you to retain full control over your customer’s websites.
A private-label plan allows the reseller to keep the full monthly
payment of the web-hosting customer, but the reseller must pay a
monthly fee to the larger hosting company for the reseller space.
The more hosting accounts a private-label reseller can sell, the
higher the profit for them. Private-label hosting allows you to
host many more websites than if you were using shared hosting for
each. This is a great solution for someone who has many sites they
need to host in one location to save money.
The reseller of services plans resell the regular web hosting plans
of a larger web hosting company, but you get a discounted price
for providing the customer and earn a monthly fee for as long as
they remain a customer. This plan does not allow control over customer
web sites and you only keep a portion of the potentially monthly
Dedicated Web Hosting
Dedicated web hosting is the most powerful and cost effective solution
of hosting a busy web site without resorting to buying your own
equipment and paying hundreds of dollars per month for a fast Internet
connection. Dedicated hosting consists of single server with no
one else hosting on that computer. This allows for the greatest
of configuration options. Anyone who has a busy website will find
dedicated hosting is the necessary choice.
Web Hosting Considerations
Wondering about all the other information listed in web hosting
plans? In this section, I will explain the most important considerations
in choosing a good web host.
The price of web hosting services is one of the most important.
There are many hosting companies out there with cheap hosting packages,
but they may be lacking in other areas. Don’t let the price
of a hosting package fool you. There are some hosting companies
out there who have great prices and the other features are just
as good. Price may be one of the most important decisions of a web
hosting plan, but there is much more to consider in choosing a quality
Disk Space / Storage Space
Disk space is the amount of physical storage space a web host gives
to you to store your web files. Hosting companies these days have
plans with disk space being measured mostly in terms of gigabytes,
but some are still offering plans in the megabytes for storage space.
Depending on your needs for file storage space, you may need more
or less. Generally the more disk space offered, the better.
Bandwidth / Data Transfer
The amount of bandwidth available can make a big difference in
choosing a quality hosting plan. In general, the more bandwidth
a hosting company makes available to you, the better. This means
you can support more traffic to your web site as your business grows.
Be wary of web hosting companies that offer unlimited or unmetered
bandwidth. While many of these are legitimate offers, there are
some out there who are overselling their bandwidth in hopes the
average user won’t use much.
In any business, it is very important to provide exception customer
service. Web hosting is no exception to this. Many of the hosting
companies are available all day and night in case you have a problem
with your web site, but there are some who are just available specific
hours of the day. If your web site goes down in the middle of the
night when they’re not available, this means lost revenue
for a business. You should make sure the web host you select is
always available for support.
Money Back Guarantee
Most web hosting companies will provide a thirty-day money back
guarantee. Some will provide one even long, but be wary of the ones
who offer no money back guarantee. I would not purchase web hosting
services from a company who does not offer at least a 30 day money
back guarantee, unless they have proven themselves to be a leader
in the industry and have an excellent reputation.
An operating system is a piece of software that controls the interaction
between the computer user and the physical hardware of the machine.
A vast majority of all web sites on the Internet run on the Linux
operation system. Linux is generally much more stable than Windows.
Stability is critical in running a web site. For this reason, I
prefer to host my web sites on the Linux operating system. Some
sites have specific requirements that only the Windows operating
system can satisfy, but there are always alternatives to those requirements.
A good web hosting company will have a regular schedule to backup
the data on all the web servers. The more often the data is backed
up, the better. At the very least, a web hosting company should
backup web site files daily.
The control panel is the point of contact the web site administrator
will have between the host server and their own machine connected
via the Internet. It is essential to have a well organized and easy
to use control panel interface. My favorite control panel is cPanel,
which is one of the leading web hosting control panels out there
today. Plesk is another good one, and many companies will create
their own control panel for you to use. Most web hosting companies
will provide a link to a demo of the control panel they use with
their hosting plans. The control panel used is a matter of preference,
but it should be user friendly.
Email is essential part of communication on the Internet. Most
web hosting companies out there will give you more email addresses
and more space to hold email messages than you will ever need. What
you need to watch out for is the companies that have decided to
be a little strict on their email accounts and only offer a small
number or a small amount of message space.
Uptime is a term used to describe how often the average web site
hosted by a company is available online. No company should be expected
to provide an exact 100% uptime. This is impossible due to things
such as hardware, software, and power failures. A vast majority
of the companies are very good with uptime, and they guarantee it.
It is still a good idea to be conscious of the uptimes posted by
the company. If it is not at least 99.5%, it is probably not worth
hosting with that company.
As a webmaster, it is nice to know how many visitors you’ve
had, where they came from, how long they stay on your site, and
how much bandwidth they’ve used. This information is collected
by the web server and is placed in a log file. A statistics software
package can read this data and provide meaningful information to
the webmaster. The information gathered from these logs can be very
valuable in improved services to the viewers of the web site.
FTP stands for file transfer protocol. It is a way of quickly uploading
or downloading many files to and from a web server. Most web hosting
companies will allow their customers access to their web hosting
accounts via FTP. FTP is very useful and is a great feature to have
when paying for a web hosting account.
Since the World Wide Web began, many scripting languages have been
created and have evolved into the dynamic and interactive environment
we enjoy today. A scripting language is a way of adding functionality
to a web site, whether it be to calculate numbers or to load information
from an external database. Scripting languages have made electronic
commerce possible. Some of these languages include PHP, ASP, JSP,
the details of these in this article for the sake of complexity.
If you know how to use these languages, you should know what to
look for in a web server for them.
A database is a place to store data that can be used in a large
variety of ways. Databases are used on the Internet for applications
such as shopping carts, message boards, and product catalogues.
The more databases the web hosting provider allows you to create,
the most applications you can deploy on your web server. Databases
are used by the more advanced web master, but information is freely
available online should you be interested.
Web hosting can be a very difficult decision with the many thousands
of hosting companies out there. It is critical to find a plan that
fits your needs and to have a good hosting company. I hope this
article was useful in making your decision about which company to
host with. Happy Hosting!
About the Author
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