Site Hosting – An Easy Guide
What is web hosting anyway? What do I get when I
buy a web hosting solution? To make thing clear from start let’s
just say how it all works.
Web pages basically consist of text and images. Generically, the
information contained by these files is called content. The look
of the web page is called design. In order to be accessible to online
users, all these files must be stored on a web server.
You can think of web servers as computers storing the files of
tens or hundreds of web sites. These computers are all connected
to the Internet through high-speed connection. When you access a
web page, your browser connects to the web server that stores that
page and downloads it to your computer.
So a web server is a must when you plan to share your web site
content with online users via the Internet. There are thousands
of web servers in the world, and there are companies that own them.
Such a company is called web-hosting provider.
A web-hosting provider can have dozens of web servers hosting thousands
of web sites. The web server computers are found usually in large
numbers and are all housed in special buildings or sections of buildings
called data center.
Apart from the high-speed Internet connection, these locations
are set up to ensure the optimum operational conditions and security
for the web servers. HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning)
control, fire protection, virus protection, data backup facility,
power backup, even autonomy in case of disaster. Another term for
the web servers in the data center is a web farm.
To be able to run your site properly you need a space on the web
server to store your data and an Internet connection to it. The
amount of data available to you on a web server is simply referred
as space and is usually quantified in MB. The Internet connection
needed so that your web site can be accessed online is referred
as bandwidth and is also measured in MB or even GB. Having the glimpse
of the basics, it must be said that different web-hosting providers
offer different space and bandwidth. Space and bandwidth are usually
the main characteristics of a web-hosting plan.
The terminology associated with web hosting can be quite dazzling:
virtual web hosting, dedicated hosting; co-locating hosting, shared
hosting reseller hosting.
Shared Web Hosting
Shared web hosting or virtual web hosting are two terms for the
same thing. Shared web hosting means that on a web server are hosted
many web sites that all have a defined quota of HDD space and bandwidth.
They all run simultaneously and there can be from hundreds to thousands
of web sites on the same web server. Given the high number of web
sites should you worry about exceeding the performance of the web
server, issue better known as slow server response, meaning that
your visitors will have to wait too long for your web pages to load.
That is usually not a real problem when dealing with serious web
hosting providers, because the operational parameters of the web
servers are monitored and appropriate actions will be taken in order
to maintain the level of service contracted. The greater number
of web sites sharing the resources of a web server (HDD space, bandwidth,
memory, CPU time), the web hosting provider can afford to offer
its services at a lower cost. A minus would be that, even with high
level of service, you will have to accept a slower server response
time when choosing shared web hosting.
Reseller Web Hosting
When web-hosting providers offer their services, typically with
a discount, to a third-party (a reseller that will thus become a
web-hosting provider itself) and the latter subsequently offers
web-hosting services under his branding. Indeed technically the
reseller web hosting is very similar to shared web hosting, as many
web sites end up sharing space and bandwidth on the same web server.
The resellers usually are web designers or web developers who offer
web hosting services as part of their integrated services. As the
web-hosting provider offers resellers important discounts, the price
they can offer is among the smallest in the industry.
Compared with the shared web hosting, this system has technical
support problem. It takes time and communication problems may occur
on the course of your problem from the reseller to the web-hosting
provider. Unless your site is a personal web site or non-commercial
one, this poor support issue is enough to not consider this your
primary option. Continuing this line of thought, how can you distinguish
a reseller from a real web-hosting provider?
It’s not the professional design of the web site, not even
the support contact facilities offered as may resellers might have
contracts with the provider on the technical support and the person
taking your calls might be working for the provider and identify
himself to you as an employee of the reseller. Solid company information
is made available usually only by serious providers. The price,
that can get as low as under 5$/month is another hint, but you should
consider it carefully with prices dropping through the industry.
Dedicated Web Hosting
In dedicated web hosting one single web server is rented to a single
customer. Although this is the common belief, web-hosting providers
usually divide a single web server computer between up to three
customers. On the other hand there are web-hosting providers that
actually give an entire web server to a customer. Even with three
customers sharing the web server, the dedicated web hosting option
offers the customers the option to host more than one web site,
configure the software to best meet the needs of his site or scale
the available bandwidth. The high prices combined with the availability
of resources recommend this type of web hosting for highly important
web sites such as e-commerce sites.
Co-location Web Hosting
Co-locating web hosting is similar with dedicated web hosting.
The main difference is that while in dedicated web hosting the web
server computer belongs to the web-hosting provider and is only
rented by the customer, in co-locating web hosting the customer
owns the web server computer. The web-hosting provider only houses
the web server computer and sells bandwidth to the customer. This
gives the customer using co-locating web hosting full control of
the web server combined with the security of the data center.
Now you should be equipped with the necessary information to decide
on you web hosting. You shouldn’t try and find the lowest
price possible, but give some extra thought to the quality of service
you are buying and to the support offered by a web host provider.
About the Author
Calin Indre is editor
at HostPinPin (http://www.hostpinpin.com),
a Cheap Web Hosting Directory. HostPinPin.com is a resource for
webmasters and consumers looking to find a web hosting company.