These days, it is very affordable and easy to own a website. You have free CMS platforms like Joomla and WordPress, which are easy to use, a domain costs about $10 per year, a proper shared hosting account can be found for less than $10 per month.
So, basically, everyone can have their own piece of land on the World Wide Web. If you are a beginner, and want to know everything about web hosting, then you have come to the right place. Prepare your coffee mug, read this article thoroughly, and by the end of it, you will understand how websites and web hosting work from the inside out.
What Is Web Hosting?
Simply put, web hosting allows organizations and individuals to place their websites online. This means that a web hosting company provides space on their server and hosts files that your website contains, and, at the same time, provides internet connectivity for other computers to access it.
To be clear, you need to be aware that a website is a collection of various computer files like images, videos and HTML files, and they are all interlinked together. So, in order for these files to be online and on your website, they have to be on a supercomputer, or server, that has a high speed internet connection.
Types of Web Hosting
There are four different types of web hosting, Shared, VPS (Virtual Private Server), Dedicated and Cloud. All of these types of hosting serve as a storage center for the files on your website, but they differ in several things: server speed, storage capacity, reliability, control and technical knowledge requirement. So, let’s look a little closer at the main differences between these types of web hosting:
Shared Hosting – With shared hosting, a website is placed on the same server with many other websites, and the number may vary from hundreds to thousands. So, all domains share a common pool of server resources, like CPU and RAM. Since the cost of this type of hosting is low, many websites that have moderate traffic and run on standard software are using this type of server, and since it requires minimum technical knowledge, it is widely accepted.
The disadvantages of shared hosting are that it has no root access, limited liability in handling high traffic levels and the website performance can be affected by other websites that are on the same server.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) – VPS hosting divides a server into virtual servers, so each website gets hosted on their own dedicated server, but they are still sharing a server with several other websites. The users of VPS hosting have root access to their virtual space and better security. So, if a website needs greater control, it can get it with VPS, without investing in a dedicated server. The disadvantage of this type of hosting is that it has limited liability in handling high traffic levels and like with shared hosting, website performance can be affected by other hosted websites.
Dedicated Hosting – Dedicated hosting gives maximum control on the server where the website is stored, which means an entire server just for one website. But with great power, come greater costs. Having a dedicated server is extremely expensive, so this type of hosting is recommended to those who need better server performance and maximum control.
Cloud Hosting – Cloud hosting gives an unlimited ability to handle high traffic levels, where a team of servers, called a cloud, are working together to host one group of websites. This means that multiple computers are working together in handling high traffic levels for a particular website. The disadvantage of this type of hosting is that it has no root access, which is needed for changing the server settings and installing additional software, and the price is pretty high.
Before a website can be put online, it needs a domain name. A domain name is the name of a website, it’s address on the internet so to speak. It is a string of characters that give a website its identity. For example, Google.com is a domain name, as well as Linux.org and Yahoo.co.uk. So, for a website to have its domain, it has to register it with a domain registrar.
It has happened before that people confuse web hosting with a domain name. In order to have a crystal clear image of what the difference between these two is, we will simplify: a domain name is like a home address, whereas web hosting represents the space inside your home, where you can put in your furniture.
How to Register a Domain Name?
The guidelines for a domain registration are determined by ICANN, a governing body that regulates practices for registrars, web hosts and clients who are interacting with them. According to them, everyone who wants to register a domain name has to provide contact information for themselves, their business and organization and, in some cases, their employer’s.
Since there are hundreds domain name suffixes, some of them have specific registration requirements. For example, only organizations can register for “.org”, and only US citizens can register for an “.us”. It is important to meet all the requirements and guidelines when registering for a domain, because in case you fail to do that, the website’s desired domain will be released back and become available for others to purchase.
Domain or Subdomain
There is yahoo.com, and there is mail.yahoo.com, where the first one is the domain and the other, a subdomain. A domain name has to be unique, and be registered with a domain registrar, where subdomains can be added by users on an existing domain if their web host provides this type of service. Some say that subdomains are like subfolders in the domain root directory, but big search engines like Google treat sub domains as a different and independent domain.
WhoIs and Privacy
Every domain name contains personal information like the name of the owner, mailing address, contact number and expiry address. All that information is called a WhoIs record, and according to ICANN every domain owner needs to make this information available in WHOIS directories. These records are available to anyone who knows to do a simple WhoIs lookup.
This is a big deal because this personal information can be used in ways that are not desirable nor legitimate. Spammers, hackers and identity thieves can access that information. Some unethical companies check the domain expiration dates and attempt to get that domain transferred to their company.
How to Choose the Right Host?
Choosing the right web host is very important, but it can sometimes be daunting and time consuming. Since there are many web hosting providers out there with their different plans, so a lot of digging, comparing and reviewing needs to be done. There are many questions that need to be answered, in order to get a clearer picture of what the provider has to offer, how they treat their customers, and are they a trustworthy organization.
Finding a reliable web host is essential for every website and blog, but this does not mean that it should cost you an arm and a leg. Finding a cheap host does not have to be bad, sometimes they can be as good as someone else’s VPS hosting deal. Perhaps a new website does not need dedicated hosting yet, so it is wise to be hosted on a shared hosting server first and when more traffic comes, a switch can be made easily.
Web hosting below $5 a month with adequate features is something to look for. This means that it has to match current market standards. A standard cheap hosting should cover in between 50 to 100 mildly active domains that have basic web support, email, auto script installations, MySQL and PHP, technical support and 99.5% uptime.
Good web hosts come with a higher price tag, so before making any conclusions depending on the cost of web hosting services, remember that not every cheap web hosting is bad. Even if they may have some drawbacks, websites can still benefit from cheaper hosting deals.
We hope that you have found this article helpful, and that you now have a clearer idea of what web hosting is and how does it work. If you are looking to create your own website, make sure to follow the guidelines we have provided in this article, and we are sure that you will wisely choose your hosting provider. Now, fill up that coffee mug once again, and start building your business website.
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