If you want to take part in the internet as a business, information resource, directory, or as a hobbyist wanting to share data, information, and knowledge with the many people and communities on the internet, you have to contain this in a central spot on the internet. You have to own a piece of cyberspace.
To obtain space in a web hosting environment, you become a member and agree to the terms and conditions of renting the space. In a web-hosting environment, your area is defined as disk space and network transfer.
The similarity between renting an office or home and renting space in a web-hosting environment is even more similar.
In some buildings, a gardener and/or a guard are available to look after the gardening or provide security.
In a web-hosting environment, you have support people to help you do what you need to do on your website to make it grow, and there are server administrators to protect and secure your web-hosting space.
The web hosts are the companies that provide space on the server that is either owned by them or leased for the use of the clients. They also provide connectivity to the internet so that the websites can be accessed from other servers. This process is generally termed as collocation or housing.
Web Hosting And Data Center: Aren’t Them The Same?
Generally, the place where they put their servers is called data center. A data center is simply a room or a building.
Quoting from Wikipedia:
A data center or data centre or computer centre (also datacenter or datacentre) is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls (e.g., air conditioning, fire suppression) and security devices.
A data center provides a fast internet connection to the servers. It also has facilities such as security entrance, fire protection, electricity backup, etc., with the purpose of keeping the web server safe, secure and running with minimum downtime.
Types of Web Hosting
There are different types of web hosting that fulfill the needs of different customers and websites.
Shared Web Hosting
This type of hosting is the easiest way to start your work. In this type of hosting, a single server is shared among many customers. The major advantage of shared web hosting is that it is easier to use with the preconfigured options and the maintenance of the website is done by the host. It is also a cheaper means of occupying space on the web.
Disadvantages: No root access (required to change server settings and install some software), limited ability to handle high traffic levels or spikes, your site performance can be affected by other sites on the server.
Best For: Most websites with moderate traffic levels run standard software.
Dedicated hosting offers an opportunity for customers to make full use of the entire server and its resources for their personal use. This type of hosting is highly flexible in nature, allowing users to use specific software and hardware to fulfill their needs. You can manage the server and configure it as per your requirements. Therefore, you need to possess some technical knowledge in this regard.
When you rent a building, there are key parts needed to work or live in the space, like rooms, offices, kitchens, toilets, and bathrooms. In your web-hosting environment, you will find equally important components that are required to make the space workable.
Disadvantages: higher cost, slightly limited ability to handle high traffic levels or spikes (you would have to upgrade the server hardware to increase capability).
Best For: Websites that need the greatest control at the server level, or those that need greater server performance.
Cloud hosting offers nearly unlimited ability to handle high traffic or traffic spikes. Here’s how it works: A team of servers (called a cloud) work together to host a group of websites. This allows multiple computers to work together to handle high traffic levels or spikes for any particular website.
Disadvantages: Many cloud hosting setups do not offer root access (required to change server settings and install some software), higher cost.
Best For: Websites that need the flexibility to handle traffic spikes.
Components in the Web Hosting Environment
The core components in a web-hosting environment are:
The web server is a relatively simple piece of software that accepts requests over HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and delivers HTML pages and image files.
The first step in a user’s quest to load a web page is to enter the URL of the desired page. This is referred to as a “domain name” in this address, which is known as the URL. The domain name determines where a web page request will be sent.
When you type in the address of your website, the request for the domain name is sent out, and your computer begins to wait for the web page to return to it.
The first step in the request’s journey is to determine what the domain name means.
To obtain a web page, your computer must first convert its request for a domain name into a request for an IP address.
A private company maintains a master list of all domain names on the Internet.
For various reasons, there is a different collection of domains housed. Every country on the planet has its own distinct set of domains that it maintains. There are also the standard collections like.com,.net,.org, and.gov. All of these lists are constantly floating around the Internet, receiving millions of changes and access requests, just like the one from the user’s computer.
The request from your computer is routed to one of these lists, which checks the requested domain name against the database and returns the IP address of the server where the website is stored.
FTP is the means by which a web master can transfer files to and from the server. To put your HTML and image files on a server, you will generally use FTP to upload (transfer) your files to the server running the web server.
The mail server consists of two parts: POP (Post Office Protocol) and SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). POP is where email is received into your mailbox, and SMTP is what is used to send and receive email between mail servers.
If you are using server side scripting on your web server (you use something like Microsoft Internet Information Server), then instead of providing?static? data only on web pages, you can provide data from a database, allowing your users to search and view the data in a different and dynamic way. Also, a database server is used to gather data from visitors to your site; orders, feedback, discussions, and the like.
Each one of the above components are software programs running on servers in the web-hosting environment. You can interact with each of these with special software programs you use on your computer. The main ones are:
When viewing the web, you use a web browser like Internet Explorer. Many web hosting companies provide a?Control Panel? to administer your web host account, which you use with your web browser. Most allow you to configure most aspects of your account using a simple web browser.
Web site/page editor
Today, many web servers allow editing of WebPages over HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) based on Microsoft FrontPage technology. These special editors allow you to essentially look at your web site as if you were using a web browser and edit the pages directly as you see them using WYSWIG (What you see is what you get) technology. Most web hosting environments support this, and if you are starting out, make sure it is available. One tip: make sure the web host providing this really understands this technology. It is the main area in which many hacks and security intrusions occur.
This is a very simple piece of software that allows you to view the server folders and files in your web host account as if they were files and folders on your own computer. You can then drag and drop files between your computer and your web host account.
If you are on the internet, you would already be using an email client to send and receive your email. The most common are Outlook Express, Eudora and Web-based mail clients like Hotmail.
Database Administration Client
The most common databases used by web servers are Microsoft SQL Server (available only on Windows) and MySQL (commonly found on Linux and UNIX but also available on Windows). SQL Server comes with its own administration client where you can view your databases, edit them, backup data, and do all the administration functions you need. MySQL has an active online community where there are a range of administration clients available.
Choosing a web host is, again, similar to choosing a house to live in or commercial premises to do business in. You need to define what it is you require: how much space you need and what features and facilities you need.
If you have been reading this article because it is new to you, then it is likely that at this stage you only need minimal space and basic facilities. Once you have worked with the basic facilities, you will learn more and become aware of greater facilities and features, and then you can simply move from one web hosting environment to another. pay more or pay less. Moving in cyberspace is much easier, faster, and more seamless than physically moving a house or commercial premises.
Initially, you may use the web-hosting environment offered by your ISP (internet Service provider), the company you use to connect to the internet. But remember these companies’ main business is connecting many thousands of people to the internet? not manage web hosting environments. You will generally find they offer less than basic facilities and minimal space.
If you are just starting out with your first web site, the first major choice you will be faced with is? Unix? or Windows?. For a person just starting out on the internet, both are equally capable and will offer the facilities you need to have your place in cyberspace.
If you have a web designer or technical person to help you, you only need to consider how much space you really need. With this simple idea in mind, when you are just starting out, owning your piece of cyberspace will not cost more than $8 per month. Many web-hosting companies will offer what you need for as little as $3 per month (usually paid yearly).
If you are going alone and doing it all yourself, you may want to consider an account with a web hosting company that offers and prides itself on its support and customer service, 24/7 support access and the experience, knowledge, and skills of its server administrators. Remember, these are the gardeners and the guards who take care of your environment.
Web hosting is very simple and straightforward. Once you obtain your space in cyberspace, you will never want to let it go. You can easily move it where you want, as a turtle carries its shell on its back. Always remember you are not stuck in the first web-hoisting environment you choose.
Web hosting is your space in cyberspace and it is imperative to have a place in cyberspace in our modern society, just as it is to have an office to do business in.