So you're about to embark on your first web project and you're wondering where on earth to start? Well, one of the first things you'll need is a web hosting package. There are so many out there it can seem daunting to try and choose one. In this article we'll teach you the basics to help you make an informed decision.
What is Web Hosting?
For people to actually view your pages on the web, you must have your files located on a "web server". When they visit your site, what they are actually doing is viewing those files. You can rent a little bit of space on the web server, or if your site is large, rent an entire server for your site. Each server is assigned an IP address. This is a four number address that is separated by dots. i.e. 127.0.0.1 Every domain name (something like www.integrated websolutions.com) actually points to an IP address and this is how visitors access your files on the web server.
Once your site is hosted on a web server, it can be viewed by any computer in the world through a web browser. All they need to do is type in your domain name to view your web pages. Your site must be hosted on a web server before it will be available to external visitors.
What is a Web Host?
A Web Host is a company that owns and maintains web servers with the purpose of hosting web sites. You rent space from these companies and in return they will maintain and service the server. Part of this entails keeping the server software current, applying any security patches and ensuring the site is always available, known as 'uptime'. To achieve peak performance, these servers are normally housed in specialist 'datacenters' with dedicated high speed connections to ensure that website loading speeds are as high as possible. A lot of web hosting companies will rent space in a large datacenter to save costs.
Web Host companies come in all shapes and sizes, from large multinational telecommunications companies to ‘joe blogs’ down the street with a server in their office. A number of web hosting companies will include a lot of other services to make them a one-stop shop to get yourself on the web. This could include domain name registration which ensures your domain name will point to the correct IP address as soon as the name is registered. If you register your domain name with a different company you will need to specify the IP address of your hosting server before anyone is able to view your files.
Types of Web Hosting:
I hope that after reading this you'll have a better idea about what kind of web hosting plan best suits your particular needs. Remember to look around. There are lots of very good companies out there but there are also a lot of bad ones. It pays to do some research about the company you choose before purchasing your web hosting plan.
About The Author
Steve Ashton is a programmer and web developer. He runs two popular websites, http://www.abetterwebhost.com and http://www.domainnamescenter.com.