Web Hosting – A Guide for Beginners

So you’re looking to learn about web hosting and what it has to offer or you may not know much about web hosting? There is no shame in not knowing this information. Everyone has to start at the beginning at some point. On that note, lets begin learning about web hosting.

First off, what is web hosting and how does it work?

Web hosting is the business practice of providing space and bandwidth on a high-powered computer server that is connected to the Internet at very high speeds. Hosting companies maintain large networks of high-powered web server computers in a physical location known as a data center. These computer servers are connected to a very fast, and generally redundant, Internet connection. The data centers have primary and backup power, a fast connection to the Internet, and a security monitoring staff.

The web hosting companies provide a share of disk space and available bandwidth to a customer for a monthly fee. Once the customer is signed up, they can upload files to their personal space on the web server and the information is then viewable to anyone interested on the Internet. The monthly fee the web hosting company charges is much less than what it would cost to run a server out of your own home or data center. This is the reason these companies exist. They take care of all the hardware, software, and other technical needs for you.

Types of web hosting

There are many different types of web hosting offers, but the main three are shared, reseller, and dedicated. Each type of hosting is for a different purpose.

Shared Web Hosting

Shared web hosting is the most popular form of hosting. Shared hosting is a portion of disk space and bandwidth provided to you by the web hosting company on a high-powered server. There are many other web sites hosted on this server, and the hosting company is likely to have quite a few of these servers in a large data center. The resources of the server are shared by as many other websites as are allocated to that computer.

Shared web hosting is the best form of web hosting if you are looking for a great price and don’t have more than a couple thousand daily visitors to your site.

Reseller Web Hosting

Reseller web hosting is a popular, low-cost solution to starting your own web hosting business. There are two types of reseller hosting, private-label and a reseller of services.

The private-label is the best type of reseller plan because it allows you to retain full control over your customer’s websites. A private-label plan allows the reseller to keep the full monthly payment of the web-hosting customer, but the reseller must pay a monthly fee to the larger hosting company for the reseller space. The more hosting accounts a private-label reseller can sell, the higher the profit for them. Private-label hosting allows you to host many more websites than if you were using shared hosting for each. This is a great solution for someone who has many sites they need to host in one location to save money.

The reseller of services plans resell the regular web hosting plans of a larger web hosting company, but you get a discounted price for providing the customer and earn a monthly fee for as long as they remain a customer. This plan does not allow control over customer web sites and you only keep a portion of the potentially monthly revenue.

Dedicated Web Hosting

Dedicated web hosting is the most powerful and cost effective solution of hosting a busy web site without resorting to buying your own equipment and paying hundreds of dollars per month for a fast Internet connection. Dedicated hosting consists of single server with no one else hosting on that computer. This allows for the greatest of configuration options. Anyone who has a busy website will find dedicated hosting is the necessary choice.

Web Hosting Considerations

Wondering about all the other information listed in web hosting plans? In this section, I will explain the most important considerations in choosing a good web host.

Price

The price of web hosting services is one of the most important. There are many hosting companies out there with cheap hosting packages, but they may be lacking in other areas. Don’t let the price of a hosting package fool you. There are some hosting companies out there who have great prices and the other features are just as good. Price may be one of the most important decisions of a web hosting plan, but there is much more to consider in choosing a quality web host.

Disk Space / Storage Space

Disk space is the amount of physical storage space a web host gives to you to store your web files. Hosting companies these days have plans with disk space being measured mostly in terms of gigabytes, but some are still offering plans in the megabytes for storage space. Depending on your needs for file storage space, you may need more or less. Generally the more disk space offered, the better.

Bandwidth / Data Transfer

The amount of bandwidth available can make a big difference in choosing a quality hosting plan. In general, the more bandwidth a hosting company makes available to you, the better. This means you can support more traffic to your web site as your business grows. Be wary of web hosting companies that offer unlimited or unmetered bandwidth. While many of these are legitimate offers, there are some out there who are overselling their bandwidth in hopes the average user won’t use much.

Customer Support

In any business, it is very important to provide exception customer service. Web hosting is no exception to this. Many of the hosting companies are available all day and night in case you have a problem with your web site, but there are some who are just available specific hours of the day. If your web site goes down in the middle of the night when they’re not available, this means lost revenue for a business. You should make sure the web host you select is always available for support.

Money Back Guarantee

Most web hosting companies will provide a thirty-day money back guarantee. Some will provide one even long, but be wary of the ones who offer no money back guarantee. I would not purchase web hosting services from a company who does not offer at least a 30 day money back guarantee, unless they have proven themselves to be a leader in the industry and have an excellent reputation.

Operating System

An operating system is a piece of software that controls the interaction between the computer user and the physical hardware of the machine. A vast majority of all web sites on the Internet run on the Linux operation system. Linux is generally much more stable than Windows. Stability is critical in running a web site. For this reason, I prefer to host my web sites on the Linux operating system. Some sites have specific requirements that only the Windows operating system can satisfy, but there are always alternatives to those requirements.

Backup

A good web hosting company will have a regular schedule to backup the data on all the web servers. The more often the data is backed up, the better. At the very least, a web hosting company should backup web site files daily.

Control Panel

The control panel is the point of contact the web site administrator will have between the host server and their own machine connected via the Internet. It is essential to have a well organized and easy to use control panel interface. My favorite control panel is cPanel, which is one of the leading web hosting control panels out there today. Plesk is another good one, and many companies will create their own control panel for you to use. Most web hosting companies will provide a link to a demo of the control panel they use with their hosting plans. The control panel used is a matter of preference, but it should be user friendly.

Email

Email is essential part of communication on the Internet. Most web hosting companies out there will give you more email addresses and more space to hold email messages than you will ever need. What you need to watch out for is the companies that have decided to be a little strict on their email accounts and only offer a small number or a small amount of message space.

Uptime

Uptime is a term used to describe how often the average web site hosted by a company is available online. No company should be expected to provide an exact 100% uptime. This is impossible due to things such as hardware, software, and power failures. A vast majority of the companies are very good with uptime, and they guarantee it. It is still a good idea to be conscious of the uptimes posted by the company. If it is not at least 99.5%, it is probably not worth hosting with that company.

Statistics

As a webmaster, it is nice to know how many visitors you’ve had, where they came from, how long they stay on your site, and how much bandwidth they’ve used. This information is collected by the web server and is placed in a log file. A statistics software package can read this data and provide meaningful information to the webmaster. The information gathered from these logs can be very valuable in improved services to the viewers of the web site.

FTP

FTP stands for file transfer protocol. It is a way of quickly uploading or downloading many files to and from a web server. Most web hosting companies will allow their customers access to their web hosting accounts via FTP. FTP is very useful and is a great feature to have when paying for a web hosting account.

Scripting

Since the World Wide Web began, many scripting languages have been created and have evolved into the dynamic and interactive environment we enjoy today. A scripting language is a way of adding functionality to a web site, whether it be to calculate numbers or to load information from an external database. Scripting languages have made electronic commerce possible. Some of these languages include PHP, ASP, JSP, Coldfusion, VBscript, Javascript, and Perl. I won’t go into the details of these in this article for the sake of complexity. If you know how to use these languages, you should know what to look for in a web server for them.

Databases

A database is a place to store data that can be used in a large variety of ways. Databases are used on the Internet for applications such as shopping carts, message boards, and product catalogues. The more databases the web hosting provider allows you to create, the most applications you can deploy on your web server. Databases are used by the more advanced web master, but information is freely available online should you be interested.

Conclusions

Web hosting can be a very difficult decision with the many thousands of hosting companies out there. It is critical to find a plan that fits your needs and to have a good hosting company. I hope this article was useful in making your decision about which company to host with. Happy Hosting!

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How to Get Reliable Web Hosting Without Sacrificing the Features?

There are innumerable shared web hosting providers out there, but it can be difficult to choose the right one for you. However, shared web hosting solutions are worth checking out before you settle on a single one.Generally, shared servers or dedicated servers are being used for small business web hosting. You can choose the either type but it all depends on the confidential data that is stored in the servers and the complexity of the web application. Many service providers offer shared web hosting for nominal fees.Do check the features provided by the web hosting company because there are numerous options to buy the features that you want from them. You can purchase a plan that suits your requirement in small business web hosting. In the shared servers, the number of email accounts provided is limited in nature. If you want more email accounts, you ought to pay separately for each and every additional account.You can get free domain name from the web hosting provider. Do research on the Internet to find such web hosting companies. But be careful before opting such servers because they may give you only less amount of space, and data transfer. Feel free to ask them about the free components that are available, the database that is supported, sub domains allowed, and options to have your own custom components.Do look at the back ups and the restore facilities, which are available with the account in a small business web hosting.Do you know handling Spam is really a Herculean task? Hence choosing an email account with Spam protection is an obligatory one. That’s why the majority of the small business web hosting companies provide you an anti-Spam package as their part and parcel of their offer.In order to alleviate the flooding of worms and viruses from reaching your inbox, anti-virus solutions are also offered in the web hosting package. Usually most of the small business web hosting packages are provided with password protection. These servers offer password-protected directories also.If you’re having a business entity to set up an online store to display and sell your products online, small business web hosting packages are the suitable one. For these type of businesses, e-commerce web hosting is available for a moderate fees.As the payment details are going to be transmitted to the merchant account, transaction in the e-commerce websites have to be secure. SSL security is afforded for all those transactions. Separate modules are available in small business web hosting for order processing.You can avail the shopping cart facilities in the checkout pages and custom error pages of the web hosting service. Inventory in the stores can be easily managed by separate tools available for that purpose along with the package.If you’re not well versed with web designing, you need not worry or seek the help of a web designer to build your site because some of the small business web hosting providers offer easy to use templates for building your own website. Many web hosting packages provide support for design tools like Dream weaver and FrontPage. Happy Hosting!

Simple Step For Choosing Great Web Host

There are thousands of web hosts around today with thousands of plans to choose from making what was once a simple procedure seems like a daunting task for both newbie and pro alike. Whether you’re looking for your first host or looking to move on to a better one there are certain simple steps you must follow to succeed in choosing a great host. These simple steps include:Right PlatformThe first and most foremost step in choosing a web host is determining the platform the web server should run, usually a choice between Unix/Linux and Windows. Your choice is largely determined by your website and the technologies used to create it, generally a website created with Microsoft technologies (ASP, VB) will run on Windows servers while most other sites using open source technologies (PHP, Perl, Python etc) will run on Linux based systems.Right FeaturesOnce you’ve chosen your platform the next step is determining the features you’ll need from your web host. Take your time with this step as the feature lists of web hosts are getting longer and longer every day and while some plans may look similar on the surface, a good look at the feature lists may tell another story. Only you can determine the specific features you’ll need, but some key things to keep an eye on are:Disk SpaceBandwidthBackupsUptimeMoney Back GuaranteeDomains AllowedDatabases (Number & type)CGI, PHP, Perl, Python, SSICronEmail accountsThe list goes on and on, just remembers to take your time and make sure your new web host is going to provide you with everything you need.BudgetOften budget is the only thing people consider when choosing their first web host, funds are usually tight and on the surface most hosts look very similar. Sometimes you get lucky and choose a good host, but more often than not it turns out to be a horror story.Remember that the cost of your web hosting is more than just the monthly fee, think about the total cost of ownership. TCO includes lost sales due to downtime & slow speeds, downtime rebates, extra bandwidth charges, setup costs, extra feature costs, and your monthly fee.
Many hosts will require you to pay yearly to get the best price available though there are some that allow you to pay by the month and still get the best price, it’s really a matter of personal choice as to what payment method works best for you.Customer ServiceCustomer service is another aspect that is often not forgettable while choosing a great web host. You shouldn’t settle for anything less than 24/7/365 service, your website needs to be running all the time so it’s no good if your hosting company doesn’t work during the holidays. Don’t take the web hosting companies word for it, they all claim 24/7 support but few back it up with consistent performance. Be sure to test them out at various times of the day and night via phone, email and live chat if they offer it.SupportAn extensive knowledge base can be a real time saver as well as being an indication of the level of customer service supports and expertise you can expect to receive. Spend some time browsing the support sections of the website and see for yourself the level of support provided.LongevityDo a whois on the web host’s domain name and find out the creation date, anything less than a year ago and the risk that they won’t be around next year increases. They could be a great host, but considering more then 95% of new hosts go out of business within a year that really isn’t something you should be taking a chance on.UptimeIt’s a fact of life that a web host cannot be online 100% of the time, servers need to be rebooted for security and software updates and any web host that doesn’t get updated faces the increased risk of being successfully hacked.99.9% uptime guarantees are pretty standard in the industry however a guarantee is only as good as how it is defined and the company behind it. Look for no less than a full months free hosting should they not meet their guarantee, a prorated refund based on the amount of downtime is virtually worthless. Say you pay $10 for a month of hosting and your site is down for 24 hours. They will refund you for one day of downtime, which ends up being about 33 cents.Hence, it’s not a rocket science; just a little research and investigating that can save a lot of heartache in the future and can offer you a great web host.REPRINT RIGHTS statement: This article is free for republishing by visitors provided the Author Bio box is retained as usual so that all links are Active/Linkable with no syntax changes.