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Web Hosting Guide for Beginners

If you have been thinking of making your own website to take advantage of the Internet boom but don’t know about website hosting and other services that are essential for creating and hosting a site, this article is meant for you. There are many basic questions about website hosting and other web hosting services whose answers are sought by the beginners. Here we try to answers all such frequently asked questions on website hosting to guide the beginners.

What is Website Hosting?

Hosting a website means making a website available to public worldwide. When you create website, it is composed of web pages having text, images, videos and other content for people to see them. However, people can see your website only when it is available on the Internet. To make your website available on the Internet, you have to store it on a computer called web server. When you buy some space on a web server and store your webpages there, your website becomes hosted and can be seen by anyone.

What is Web Server?

A web server is the computer on which the web pages of your website are stored. It delivers or ‘serves’ the content of your website to the users through Internet. The computer which acts as server has to have very high specifications. It is also connected to the Internet through very powerful link. The web hosts or the web hosting companies have their own servers on which they rent out space to you so that you can host your website and make it accessible to the general public.

Who is Web Host?

Any person or company who owns a server and rents out web space for website hosting can be called the web host. Some web hosts do not own servers but rent a server from some large web hosting company and then resell the space under their own brand. This is called reseller hosting service and such web hosts are called web resellers. The large web hosting companies even own their datacenter (collection of servers) where they can host millions of websites. Datacenters have many computer servers connected to the Internet with fast connections, back up and high security. Most of the web hosts provide not only web space but many other services related to website hosting and are thus also called web service providers.

What Services are given by Web Hosting Companies?

Space on their servers is, no doubt, the most important product sold by a web host. Many other products and services, essential for website hosting, are also provided by them such as domain name registration, email hosting services, and SSL certificates etc. Some of the service providers also give the facility of website builder tools through which you can create your own website without the help of web designers and developers. However, the most important products of a web host are the different types of web server hosting so that their clients might choose the hosting space suitable to their specific needs.

What are the Basic Features of a Web Hosting Plan?

Here is a list of basic features that most of the website hosting plans provide:

Disk Space

Disk space means the amount of storage space provided to you by your web hosting provider. You need disk space to store your web files composed of text, images, video, audio, etc. disk space is measured in megabytes and a good hosting company will provide packages with differing amounts of space to cater to the needs of all sizes of websites- from smaller personal websites to larger company websites.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth means the amount of data that a website can transfer over a period of time. It determines the speed of your website. More bandwidth means more speed. The less bandwidth your site has, the slower it takes for it to load. Some hosting service providers provide unlimited bandwidth whereas some others have different prices based upon the amount you use. If your website has heavier pages like those with lots of images, videos etc. then you will need higher storage along with greater bandwidth.

Uptime

Uptime means the percentage of time that a hosting server stays up or running. 99.99% uptime would mean that your website will go down only for about 8 hours in a year while 98% uptime would mean that your website may remain down for about 7.3 days in a year. If your website is an ecommerce website and your customers pay online or you get any type of business through your website, more downtime can mean greater losses.

Programming Services

The website hosting packages also let you create web pages with programming languages including HTML, PHP, ASP as well as databases. The best offers can be called those providing PHP language and mySQL database.

Customer Service

This is one of the basic and most essential features that one should look for while selecting website hosting service. Customer support options like those provided through chat, phone and email etc. are extremely useful in the event of any technical or other problems related to your website.

Are there Additional Features in a Web Hosting Plan?

This depends wholly upon the web hosting service provider. Some web hosts give additional features like free domain; email accounts for your domains; content management system (CMS); Google adwords credit or some other form of advertising; site back up options; set ups for social features like forums, bulletin boards; website builder with free website templates; set ups for ecommerce websites like online stores templates; choice of operating system (OS) including windows, linux and java hosting.

Some web hosting providers even make special attractive package that includes everything you need to make your own website such as this website builder tool called EasySite which includes drag-and-drop website building tool with free hosting and email accounts along with over 10000 website templates with such features as maps, videos, flash, social networking integration, and ecommerce features.

What are the Types of Web Server Hosting?

Not all persons and even businesses require similar type of web hosting service. A good web hosting company provides you with different types of web hosting options as per your needs and also help you migrate to a different hosting plan with the growth of your website.

Shared Server Hosting

As the name suggests, several webmasters share space on a single server. This type of hosting plan is good for small time ecommerce sites, static website or a personal website that need cost effective hosting solutions. The entry level websites don’t need high performance features and thus, shared hosting can fulfill their needs without having to pay larger amounts of money.

Dedicated Server Hosting

A server wholly dedicated for your website is a little costly but could not be affected by the other websites as it could happen in a shared server hosting. This type of website hosting service is most suitable for websites that attract higher traffic and cannot afford to be down due to business purposes such as for e-commerce sites.

Cloud Server Hosting

Based on the innovative cloud computing technologies, cloud hosting is done through multiple servers inter connected with each other. This is unlike shared or dedicated server hosting that are provided through only one server. The multiple servers acting as a single system has multiple advantages like load balancing, no single point of failure, non-reliance on a single server leading to higher security and also the facility to increase or decrease server resources as per your needs. It is also cost effective web hosting solution as the website hosting companies charge you for cloud hosting services on the basis of usage. As you can scale your resources up and down on a cloud server, you are able to use more resources only on the days when you expect higher traffic.

What is the Difference Between Linux and Windows Web Hosting?

Whenever you go for a web hosting plan, you have to select the operating system on which the server will run. Windows and Linux are the two most popular operating systems for web hosting. Operating systems work at the back end and it does not make much difference to the end user. However, the features and options provided by Linux and windows operating systems for web hosting should be definitely considered before selecting the one that’s best suited for your requirements.

Windows and Linux, both offer FTP access to your files. However, only Linux Hosting generally offers telnet or ssh access through which you can open a window directly on the Web server to edit them. If your website is going to be a dynamic web site then you will need a database too. Access and MySQL are the two most popular databases. Linux servers most often offer mySQL. However mySQL runs on both Linux and Windows. Access is available only for Windows Hosting.

Security is one of the major concerns for any website. Many people consider Linux to be more secure than Windows web server but they are both equally secure. Security is more an issue at the level of hosting service's administration and not at the operating system level. Good administrators ensure that your server remains secure whatever the OS is.

Now which OS to choose for web hosting? You can select Linux or Windows web hosting based upon the features that you need for your website. Linux web hosting is more popular because it has more features for better web designing. However, many websites need specific Windows applications. If your website needs window specific applications then you have to go for windows web hosting. In case you want to experiment with both Linux and Windows hosting, you can opt for Java Hosting. When you use Java hosting, you don’t have to face portability issues. The same underlying code works on both Windows as well as Linux servers and it is suitable for everyone, from beginners to technical experts.

What Type of Web Hosting do I Need?

This depends on what kind of website you want to create. If you are a professional or own a small office or company, you can select our Basic Web Hosting Package which includes 250 MB disk space along with all the other features that a good web hosting package should have such as high bandwidth, 99.9% uptime and 24 X 7 customer support. However, if you want to make a website where you expect to get higher traffic, say around 1000 visits per day, you can buy Advanced Web Hosting Package which offers 500 MB space with other features and additional feature of MySQL along with free Google Adwords credit of Rs. 2500 to advertise your site. If you are about to make an ecommerce site or sites, you should buy the Ecommerce Hosting Plan. It gives you 2GB space, java support and Rs 2500 free Google Adwords credit. You can also host upto 5 sites with this package. The Mega Web Hosting Plan is for medium and large enterprises. It offers 750 MB space along with all the other useful features of a best web hosting package. If, however, you do not find any of these plans suitable for making and hosting your website, you can even create your Custom Hosting Package with whatever features you want to have in your own hosting plan.

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