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Your Guide to Web Hosting

Sep 10, 2008
Constructing a website is a vital part of increasing the scope of your business world and expanding your online presence. Once you have this notion, you start to consider a possible domain name and then look into Webhosting for your potential site. You need to think about what web host is right for you and that is why we now offer you a simple guide to web hosting.

Can you define web hosting?

Web hosting is far more than just a domain; it is a collection of files that are linked by means of HTML code that enables the text and graphics to come together on a computer to show what a website is truly about. Having a computer with special software will enable you the opportunity to save your made files and let others see, as long as they have internet access. In broad and basic terms, web hosting is when someone rents space that is found on a web server. The web server is where a computer makes the requests for files that have been previously stored there. The server is also able to pass on the files to the internet which enables them to be viewed on a computer that requests them. There are similarities to be drawn between a waiter in a restaurant and the term "server."

There are many services that are provided by a web server. It has the ability to display files to other people surfing the internet and it can provide further uses. These may include offering the ability to generate email accounts and addresses that are relevant to the domain name which will allow the sending and receiving of emails. In addition to this provision, the ability to make and control databases, show moving images and a number of other options are provided to the user. It does not matter about the computer as the software is what is important in making a server.

As it is a service being provided, there is a fee for purchasing a web host and this money goes towards the general upkeep and maintenance of the software and hardware of the server. This payment is also used to keep the server online, to ensure it is held securely and that a rapid internet connection is maintained. Payment also goes towards paying for the person who maintains this service. It may be possible for the user to do it all themselves but having a dedicated provider do the tasks for you is usually a better idea for most people. Yes, this incurs a charge but it can be worthwhile providing the person does it in reliable form.

Different Kinds of Web Hosting

Shared Hosting- Websites are usually targeted to a particular section of people for a particular purpose unlike the sites like Yahoo! (Meant for everybody using Internet). So, they don't have thousands of pages or files. This point towards the fact that websites, in general, don't need the entire globe of resources of a web server. Let me tell you then that usually the Web servers are capable of handling hundreds of websites at once because they are powerful machines. Over 95% of all websites follow the model of shared hosting that refers to the concept of hosting more than one website on a particular server. Shared hosting is undoubtedly inexpensive as compared to the other types because it not only shares resources of the server among the clients but also the cost. This also contributes to its popularity. Shared hosting (also called virtual hosting) lets each client have a certain amount of each resource. The payment levels vary in accordance with the varied amounts of resources like disk space, bandwidth, email addresses, and many more.

Dedicated Hosting- Having a web server that is dedicated to you is worthwhile if you believe your website will have many visitors or you do not wish to share a server with others or you do not wish to dominate shared resources. This equates to renting out an entire server for you and is known as dedicated hosting. The machine remains the property of the web hosting company as does hardware maintenance and web host software but responsibility for use and configuration of the server is given to the user. A variation on this theme is provided with semi-dedicated hosting and this is where the web hosting service is extended to a few clients, usually between two and four, and there are clear boundaries between the companies. This is viewed as managed hosting as the host company manages and maintains the server. As may be expected, dedicated hosting is dearer than shared hosting.

Server Co-Location- If money was no object, a great option is to contain everything within your own web server and domain and this can be done by buying a server and looking after it yourself. However, there are many issues that can arise from this and would you be able to react to power shortages, natural disasters, floods, break ins, staff error and many other problems that may cause problems? All of these issues may prevent your server from running on a speedy internet connection but help is at hand from a data center. Placing your server in a secure outlet with a guaranteed power source and reliable and fast internet connection is called a Co-location. This situation placed the client in charge of maintaining the software and hardware needs of the server as the data center will not become involved in this issue. If a client has the talent, ability and hours to look after this form of server, it can be an improved and less expensive variant compared to dedicated hosting.

UNIX Hosting- Although a number of web host styles have been talked about so far, it is more accurate to say they have been variants on UNIX as this is what the majority of web severs are operated on. The UNIX operating system was developed by universities as a method of providing access to networks and servers and features in many different forms and designs. This is because this form of operating system was created with 'open source protocol' which enabled many amendments and adjustments to be made. There are a great number of variations produced such as FreeBSD, SuSE, Debian and Red Hat Linux all of which stem from Linux and BSD, which are considered to be the popular versions. A huge benefit of using UNIX as a form of hosting is its low cost and the fact that it provides a better alternative to many operating systems. This reduction in costs allows the web host to charge a lower price for their service or allows them to have a larger profit margin. Other benefits in using this style of hosting platform is that the UNIX is considered to have high security, it is considered extremely powerful and it offers great stability. You may hear the phrase 'UNIX hosting' used quite a lot and this is because it refers to any platform that originated from the first UNIX.

Windows Hosting- There are clearly many products developed by Microsoft and Windows Server 2003 is one of them. In order to operate this product, a license needs to e bought and this raises costs and increases prices. Even with this cost, this type of operating system supplied by Windows is not as powerful and is less secure than the UNIX version. Products such as ASP, ColdFusion or ASP.NET are extremely popular for a number of applications and can only be run on a server like Microsoft SQL Server or Access. If you wish to use these features there is a requirement to have a host who uses Windows.
About the Author
This article is published with permission from WebHostingMadness.com, a provider of web hosting company reviews, comparisons and detailed articles about web hosting.
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