|Several times I have found myself in the situation of having to
explain someone what web hosting is. As it turned out, certain
people instantly got the idea, but for others, it was something
new and hard to understand. The purpose of this note is to
clarify what web hosting is for those who don't know much about
If you want to have your own website, you need three main
-the website pages (index.html, contact.html, for example)
-the domain name, which you need to register. Something like
www.your-domain.com . You may not get a domain for your website,
but place it inside an existing domain, like
www.some-domain/my-website . If you're creating a business
website, it is highly recommended that you get a domain for it.
It will look much more professional.
-a place where your site resides and is reachable by internet
users. You need to place your site in a web server, a computer
which is permanently connected to Internet and which other
computers can reach.
Web Hosting companies have powerful servers and so they can
serve several sites in the same computer. They sell the service
of "hosting", providing a space in their server for your site,
and letting you use their server resources, like mail server and
databases, depending on the package you buy. The web hosting
company assigns you a space where you save your site pages so
they are accessible through the web. So that's it. That's web
hosting, in a few words.
Web hosting packages come in all kind of flavors. You need to
look carefully and find a company you trust, which offers a
package containing the services you need. Do not pay more for
services you don't need. They will be useless. Just get a
package that is enough for you, and then, if your site grows,
you can always upgrade to a new level.
Let's have a look at some of the services that may be included
in a web hosting package:
-storage space: generally expressed in MB (megabytes). Your
needs depend on your site's characteristics. You should see how
much space your site occupies, by adding up size of pages plus
images, for example.
-bandwidth and monthly traffic: this will be enough in most
cases, unless you have a website with many visits per day.
-PHP, ASP, CGI: this means support for programming languages. If
your site is written in PHP, you need to find a web hosting
package with PHP enabled.
-MySQL, Access: these are databases. If your website makes use
of a database, you need to have at least one database included
in your package. Some hosting packages come with unlimited
databases, othes include a fixed number of them.
-Front Page Extensions: if your website has been created using
Front Page, you need to get a package with Front Page extensions
-Control Panel: this will be useful for you. A Control Panel
lets you manage your hosting account settings using a web
interface, all you need is your browser. An example of what you
can easily do using a control panel is create and delete email
-Support: it is important that the hosting company brinds
customer support and you can reach them easily, for example they
may provide a ticketing system where you create tickets to
inform them of any question or problem, or they may provide you
with an email address where you can send your inquiries. In any
case, they must respond promptly to your messages, although that
is something you will be able to check once you're their
customer. You can start by sending them an email with a question
before acquiring a hosting plan, to verify how long they take to
These are some basic features a web hosting plan may have, you
will find most plans have more services listed. Web hosting is
an arena full of technical terms. Don't be ashamed to ask for
clarification when you do not understand a particular service,
or if you are not sure which plan is the right for you. It is
better to be safe than sorry.
About the author:
Veronica Bendersky is a Systems Engineer who specializes in web
programming and online systems. She is now also offering web
hosting and domain registration at http://www.ayreshost.com.
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