So you're about to embark on your first web project and you're wondering where on earth to start? Well, one of 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 basics to help you make an informed decision.
What is Web Hosting?
For people to actually view your pages on 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 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 actually points to an IP address and this is how visitors access your files on web server.
Once your site is hosted on a webserver, it can be viewed by any computer in 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 webservers with purpose of hosting web sites. You rent space from these companies and in return they will maintain and service server. Part of this entails keeping server software current, applying any security patches and ensuring 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 bloggs down 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 web. This could include domain name registration which ensures your domain name will point to correct IP address as soon as name is registered. If you register your domain name with a different company you will need to specify IP address of your hosting server before anyone is able to view your files.
Types of Web Hosting
- Shared Hosting
Shared hosting means your site will be hosted on a web server that is also hosting a number of other websites at same time. The server disk space and server resources, i.e. RAM, data transfer is divided up between various clients. Although your site is located on a shared server, your files are still secure and can not be viewed by anyone else who also has their site on that web server.