About Web Hosting

Your friends did it, your business did it and maybe even your mom did it. Having a web site has become quite the norm these days. Lots of people have web sites with a deluge of new ones popping up each day. So, you have finally made the decision to build your own. You build your shiny new web site, check your spelling and polish off your graphics. Now what? You have come to one of the most critical points in the success or failure of your web site, choosing a web hosting provider.

So, you ask, what is web hosting? If you click on the files on your computer you can view them just fine through your browser of choice. Now you have got to make the files available to the rest of the world. You can do this by setting up an account with a web hosting company. A web hosting company will let your put your files on their web servers (Host your files for you) and make them available for visitors to view.

A web hosting company has special machines or servers with special server software that will make your files available to the rest of the world. A good web server will have high end hardware that is made to withstand the day to day toll of processing information 24 hours a day 7 days a week. These servers have special software installed on them that will process incoming request for your site and return the information to the visitor. There are several different types of web server software available.

Web hosting providers also have a special connection to the rest of the world. A web site can be hosted on a regular broadband connection, but if the site receives a high number of visitors, the site may seem sluggish and detour people from returning to the site in the future. The minimum connection that a web hosting company should have is a T1. This special connection allow a web hosting provider to receive a high number of request from the internet and will help to return the information to the visitor quickly and efficiently. Being able to browse your site quickly will encourage return visitors and drive the traffic to your site up. A web hosting company also has options for much quicker connections like OC3 - OC192 connections. All of these connections to the internet are very expensive. That is part of what you are paying for when you pay your monthly web hosting charges.

Once you have established your account with a web hosting company you will need to get your files onto their machine. To get the files from your machine to your web hosting provider's web server you will need to connection to their machine and transfer or upload the files to a folder that they have set up for your web site. To do this you connect to their machine using an FTP connection (Files Transfer Protocol). Your web hosting provider will provide you with an FTP username and password and an FTP address. This address will be either an IP Address (example: or a hostname (ftp.yourdomainname.com). To connect to your FTP account you can either use FTP software or you can use Internet Explorer to connect to the FTP and upload your files.

After you upload your files to the server you will have to give your visitors an easy way to find your site. That is where the domain name comes into play. Domain names were established to make it easy for people to find a certain IP Address. If you gave someone the IP address to your web server, odds are they will not remember it. When you register your domain name you will your domain name registrar the name servers of your web hosting provider. When a person types in your domain name it will forward them to your name servers. These special servers store your zone record. The name servers will check your zone record and forward the request to your IP address or web server.

Now that you have setup your website with your web hosting provider, transferred your files to your web server and pointed your domain name to the correct name servers so that people can find your site the only thing left to do is view the files. Computer files have extensions. Extensions are the letters that come after the dot in your filename. For instance, an executable file on a Windows machine would be filename.exe. The .exe would be your file extension. The file extension is what tells the computer what program to use when opening or viewing that file. For websites the most common file extensions are .html or .htm. These files are opened with programs called browsers. A browser is a program used to view web pages. In fact if you are viewing this file right now you are using a web browser to view it. The most common web browsers are Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, Opera, Safari for Apple Computers, or Konqueror for Linux. All of these will open not only .html and .htm files, but will also open other types of web files such as, .php, .asp, .jsp, .shtml and others. When you enter an address or domain name it sends a request to the web server and the web server will return the file to the browser for viewing. These requests are known as HTTP Requests or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. When the file is returned it is translated by your browser and you will see the text and graphics that are specified in the file.

A question I am asked a lot by people is why not host your own website. There are several reasons I recommend against hosting your own website. First and foremost is security. Port 80 is the Port that HTTP request travel through. To host your own web site you must open up Port 80 to allow the HTTP request to come into your machine. Port 80 is by far the most hacked and attacked port on the internet. If you do not know what you are doing you will eventually have your machine and your network compromised by a hacker. A quality web hosting provider will have high end (Expensive) equipment and the technical training to allow them to prevent hackers from accessing their machines. On top of the security risks there are also the costs involved in hosting your own website properly. To properly setup equipment to host your website you would need high end enterprise class hardware, a high speed connection, a power backup system and a data backup system. You would never make up the money or the time that it would cost you versus purchasing a web hosting account from a web hosting provider.

We have covered some basic principles of hosting a website. I hope this information will allow you to get a start on your web hosting plans. There will be a follow up article shortly which will discuss what to look for in a web hosting provider. For more information on web hosting solutions or web hosting plans, please call visit our main site by clicking on the link below.

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