What is Web Hosting? A web hosting service provides a service that allows individuals and businesses to post web pages to the internet. A web hosting service provider sells or for free (with advertisements on the web page) is a business that provides the servers and technologies to view web-sites on the internet. Web hosting services are services that customers can utilize after they have purchased monthly dial up or broadband services that allow them access to the internet. Web hosting services use hosting and client architecture to load content to the server so web pages and information can be viewed on the internet in its original HTML format. A web hosting company will offer clients access to a server that will provide the clients' content to individuals on the World Wide Web after they make a URL or domain name request. To view pages on the web, you must have a web browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator to request the web page from the server after you have purchased internet access. Web sites are pages that are stored on a computer called a server. The server is a part of a network of computers on the internet or World Wide Web that allows users of the internet to reach your site anywhere in the world at anytime. The internet is open 24 hours, seven days a week around the clock. Host computers are configured so that when your URL or domain name is typed in, the address will use a pointer routine (look for the address from terminal to terminal) until it reaches the computer that hosts your web-site. Then, if all is okay, your web site should display itself on the users screen. Hosting companies require that you buy your URL or domain name first before you purchase hosting services. Most hosting companies have a package that will allow you to buy the domain name and hosting at the same time. Web Server Hosting Types There are different types of hosting services that you can choose from depending on what type of web development and web site that you want to host. Dial-Up Access Hosting -- This is the most basic access/hosting service and these providers also provides a web page for hosting your site. Dial-up access hosting was the first hosting available and is still around. Most ISP's specialize in just internet access and it's rare that you will see an ISP do both. These companies make their money off of providing access to the Internet. Development Hosting -- Web site developers are buying their own servers and offering independent hosting services for their clients. This is called development hosting in which they provide web development services along with a host server located at their place of business. The consumer gets charged for the development and the maintenance of the web-site. Web-Hosting ISP's. -- These are companies that specialize in hosting business web sites. There is no dial up access needed and site owners access their pages via File Transfer Protocol (FTP). This is what the majority of small businesses use to put their site information on the internet. Other services are also included in the Web Hosting ISP package depending on their service plans. These types of hosting plans are usually for corporations that need a lot of bandwidth to run their web applications. These companies run T1 access lines for big packets of internet data and have multiple connections to an internet backbone. They have fully staffed data processing facilities and the prices are substantial for using these types of services. Corporate/Industrial Hosting -- Companies like Hewlett Packard, Dell or IBM, run the server infrastructure for most of these host companies. The SOHO business owner will usually need the Web-Hosting ISP services. It is the middle ground between the basic and advanced services. How to Pick a Hosting Provider How do you choose a hosting provider when there are thousands of hosting companies available online? It's like going through the yellow pages trying to find burger restaurants. There are lots of them. Hopefully these tips will steer you in the right direction.Important factors in selecting a web hosting company include the percentage of server uptime. 98 to 99% uptime is the dream standard for server uptime, 65% is unacceptable. The higher the downtime of a server, the lower the potential for traffic at your web site. Another consideration is how much space is provided for the files that will make up your web site. How much bandwidth is in your package? Monthly bandwidth is the amount of data transfer allowed for visitors to view and use your web site. With today's changing trends in web hosting services, it is important to get as much server space and bandwidth as you can. This will allow for necessary updates and increased traffic to your site as it becomes more popular. It is equally important when purchasing business web hosting that CGI access is provided; along with features such as MySQL, Real Audio, Real Video, and Cold Fusion (which some companies sell as an add on component). A crucial feature necessary for doing ecommerce is SSL, or Secure Socket Layer. This encrypts all order and credit card information until it reaches you. An SSL certificate can be purchased from most web hosting providers. Displaying it on your ecommerce web site verifies that your site transactions are safe and secure. We've talked about this before in other articles. You will need a domain name that reflects the nature of your business. For instance, a sports business might have a URL that is www.coloradosports.com . To get your own unique domain name, you must first check the availability of the name with a domain name search, offered by domain registrars such as Network Solutions. There are many service providers to choose from. If you do your homework, you'll find some good deals that will fit your budget. Picking a Type of Web Hosting Service There are various types of web hosting services and it all depends on what you want to accomplish in building your web-site for your business. You should look at the different options which depend on these following factors: Complexity of your web-site -- You may want to talk to a developer on the complexity of your web-site, especially when it comes to graphics and database administration. You may have to consult with an internet specialist on the type of hosting that you need. Some web hosting services are provided for free but you have to put up with ads that are on the top or bottom of your web site and those ads might not be conducive to the web site that you have developed. If you are going to get a site with ads, then get a free web hosting package that matches with the online ad that's already there. Free hosting also has low bandwidth on the internet because of so many people using the free service instead of the paid service. Basically, you also get a free web email account with free hosting services. Then there is hosting that you pay for that you have more control over when you load and host your web site. You get POP mail access and can create as many emails as you want to which depends on the type of account that you pay for. Every company has special packages for each and every need. From personal to business servers, even servers for special kinds of operating systems (UNIX, Windows, Linux and Apple) the choices vary depending on what you want to do. The prices depend on how much space you need on the server to load your applications so you have to take into consideration what you want to put on the server through your web-site. Get the Best Web Hosting Plan If and when you're interested in starting an online business, there are a lot of things that you have to study first before you can rightfully expect a high return on investment. First, make sure that your company website has a user friendly interface which basically means links are visible, easily located and properly labeled and that the content provided in the website is complete, interesting, effective and grammatically correct. There's the matter of search engine optimization or SEO which requires you to employ a number of strategies that your company website is heard and seen by the right people. Common search engine optimization strategies would be keyword listing, site code optimization and top search engine placement. Optimize your plan by understanding web hosting. No matter how great your website looks or how effective your SEO strategies are, if you don't have the right web hosting plan, none of those would see the light of the day because your web hosting plan simply prevents them from being properly uploaded and viewed. Web hosting is important to your plans if you want your website to have its own niche in the Internet so do read carefully what we're about to teach you. You have a couple of choices when it comes to web hosting -- you can get it for free or you can spend for it. Naturally, it would be lovely if web hosting would be free for all of us but understand that all the needs of your company website must be met by the free web hosting plan if you want your future to look rosy. These are key issues to address. Are you willing to deal with advertisements that may take too much space or would have an irritable effect on your readers? These ads are often required by free web hosting plans because it's the only reason they can continue letting people enjoy free web hosting. Are you "cool" with low bandwidth access and minimal web space? If you're not okay with the following facts I presented, then I suggest you go with a web consultant and let them handle all of your work. Free and Cheap -- Web Space Options for the Thrifty At Heart There are some good deals on the internet concerning web space and hosting but you have to look to find the best deals. You should also consider how long a provider has been in business. Finding free web space on the Internet is simple. All you have to do is use a simple Web search (Google, AltaVista or Yahoo) and the results should bring back options for free web space. There are many individuals and businesses looking for a place to put their website without having to pay for the service. These free services can provide anywhere from 5MB to 100Mb of online web space for hosting your web site. Free sites also come with some cool stuff, such as counters, guest books, virtual domain names, tracking logs, blogs, copy and past scripts that are usually Java code scripts and more. These additions are good for people that have little or no knowledge into building a web site. A free service provides benefits to all people and may sound like a good idea but the goal is to do your research to see if the deals are viable or not. Free services can also bring other unwanted things that you have to deal with when you sign up for the service. Usually, you have to submit to advertising and surveys by filling out a form before you can get your free service. Be sure that you read the user agreements that come with the free services. You can go on the cheap and don't want advertisements running on your site, you can get a service similar to free hosting but you would have to pay a small fee to keep your web page ad-free. Some of these providers will offer you a service for $2.95 a month with 100MB of web space if that's all that you need, and you can always upgrade your packages. There's a lot of competition for your Web site hosting dollars, and you can find some pretty good deals if you look hard enough. Using Free Hosting Services Free web hosting is the most basic web hosting service that you can obtain and there are many free hosting companies that are available on the internet. Free hosting services are usually financed by advertisements on web sites that are hosted. Free web hosting services are extremely limited. If you get a free hosting service you will have ads on the top and the bottom of your web-site and depending on what your web-site is all about, it may not fit at all but for people starting out on the internet it may be the best option if you don't have a lot of traffic or just a small site. The type of web domain that you receive when you get a free web hosting is a subdomain with the name that you pick (yourname.webhost.com) or a name in a directory (yourname.webhost.com). For example, if the name of your free host is freestanding.com, Then your web domain would be yourbusiness.freestanding.com. As stated before, if you are a novice, this is the type of account that you would probably want to get but there are some shortcomings to free web hosting if you are looking for more options on the account. First, many free hosting accounts do not support database management or what you would call in simple terms, putting data structures on the free web host side of their server. Databases are usually used for online data retrieval routines. Many of these free web hosting sites do not support a common package called mySQL which allows you to program queries into your web sites. They also don't support multiple e-mail accounts. Most free web hosting service only gives you one email account and it's usually a web based internet account. The host does not include modules for Flash Programming, PHP and Dynamic Hypertext Markup Language (DHMTL). In summary, free web hosting is for novices who want an easy hosting option without many bells and whistles. Putting Your Web Site on the Internet You need a web server to put your web site on the internet. Sometimes, owning and maintaining a web server can cost money and it requires someone who knows what they are doing to maintain the server and the web-site. A web host can do this for you. They provide equipment and other technical programs that are required to build a customer a web-site. These hosting companies charge a monthly fee for the service of storing your web site and allowing your web site to be seen on the internet. Within that fee, it allows web-site visitor traffic to flow through their servers so people can view your site on the internet. The physical web server does not reside at the consumers home or business which means that the web host services are designated as outsourced services. This means that the hosting organization that you choose has the responsibility to maintain your site structure, files and web pages. Many web hosts provide excellent services that really assist individuals and business owners. All the weight of maintaining the host servers and application fall on the hosting company and not the individual and as a business owner, this is great because there are so many technical routines that you have to do daily to maintain a server. When you pick a web host to handle your internet server needs, you achieve the following: - You streamline your internet costs getting the maximum from your hosting provider; - Work with knowledgeable technicians; - and pass IT control functions to the host so you won't have to worry about maintaining servers and other equipment. You can self publish your site and use the web host to handle the technical aspects of server management. The host that you choose will give you the capability to load your own site to the server for updates and revisions to your web page. Web hosting doesn't include developing your site (unless they have a special development program) or the development of certain customized programs. You can develop the programs (web-site or server side code) or have someone do it for you. Web hosting is offered in multiple formats based on cost and infrastructure. What Is A Domain Name? A domain is a name that identifies IP addresses on the internet. The domain name Yahoo.com represents about fifteen (15) IP addresses. Domain names are used to identify Web pages. For example, in the URL http://www.gohome.com/index.html, the domain name is gohome.com. You register a domain name by registering with a domain name services registrar. The domain name industry is regulated and overseen by ICANN, which is an organization responsible for providing standards and procedures for certifying companies as domain name registrars. Domain name registration has grown over the years. Network Solutions was the first domain name registrar to ever provide such a service. That was over ten years ago but today there are many accredited registrars. Only a domain name registrar is permitted to access and modify the master database domains that are on InterNIC servers. The fee is determined by the registrar as far as getting a domain name and some registers have special domain name packages. Do You Really Need a Domain Name? You use a domain name to create an identity on the World Wide Web and domain names can also be used for branding purposes, such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart, etc. In picking a domain name, the title shouldn't stray far from what your company is all about. This will allow you to market your web-site as a subsidiary of your business and put your domain name on business cards and advertisements. Once you select a domain name, you must register it with a domain name registrar. This is a task you can do easily. Many ISPs offer a complete package that includes hosting and the registering of the domain name for you. Fees probably will include a one time set-up fee for all of the backend technical work that needs to be accomplished. Then pay your service provider a monthly, semi-annual or annual fee for Web site hosting services. Many domain registrar services have competent online tools to help you get your domain name and hosting site up and running. Using Unmanaged Host Services If you are a customer that wants total control of your web site administrative functions then you might want to look at unmanaged web hosting services to give you complete remote control administration over your server. The technical side of the server can be controlled by a designated administrator that you pick to handle your web information. You have to have a technical person to install the server and manage the server if you don't have the expertise because you as the customer will be responsible for maintaining the server environment. That's why unmanaged servers are recommended for individuals and businesses with server administration resources. As far as developing applications and controlling the applications without going through technical support personnel on the managed server side, these types of servers are usually used when companies are developing real time response systems on the internet, such as geographical, science, engineering and multimedia/entertainment applications. Unmanaged servers allow you to add extra hard disk space to increase your space capacity and many computer companies sell physical servers that are configured for unmanaged hosting applications. Companies like Dell and HP have software programs that not only will run an office network but also handle web server and development applications. Small businesses that don't need a server on site and deal with administrative web packages should go with the managed host packages that provide assistance and administrative support. Managed applications will do just fine because of the costs that are incurred with maintaining an unmanaged server. Unmanaged servers need constant upgrades of software and hardware constantly which could cost your small business a big chunk of change. Unmanaged servers are expensive to maintain and run unless you are a small firm that develops in house web applications. The best advice is to have a consultant draw up an IT plan to see if you need this type of hosting service or not. Using Subdomains -- Benefits and Drawbacks Most businesses don't like to use subdomains because they feel like they give them a disadvantage in many areas, such as having a prefix name before your web-site, being ignored by bots and index spiders in search engines and all in all, it just doesn't look right. So let's check our facts on subdomains. A subdomain is substitute or second-level of a domain. A regular domain looks as follows: www.jamesbrown.com. A sub domain looks like this: http://bravenet.jamesbrown.com. Subdomains do not have www on the front of them. All subs start with "http://subdomain/maindomain.com pattern of identification. Subdomains rank efficiently well. Search engine spiders and bots are not prejudiced when it comes to the ranking of subdomains and regular domains. As long as your site has the right SEO keywords and has been optimized, whether you have a subdomain or regular domain name doesn't make a difference at all. Let's pretend that you site has a lot of categories in it. If you were to submit to a search engine, you could submit each subdomain as its own individual category and still get a good ranking. Each subdomain would be looked at by search engines as a new site with its own index or home page. You may want to try creating subfolders on the subdomain to get around this so that search engines can read the folder as one set of site information. People worry about their subdomain getting banned if the main domain name is banned. If the main domain is banned, it will have an effect on the subdomain. You see this happen often in adult content sites that have violated certain agreements that they have signed with a provider that does not want a domain used for adult material. Again, there is nothing wrong with using a subdomain. If you want to develop each subdomain as its own entity, then by all means, do so. If not, get yourself a main domain name and use that as a certified landing page. Using MySQL in a Hosting Environment MySQL is a heavy-duty database server. Used with various software languages, most notably PHP, and part of the LAMP family (which is comprised of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP), Whether it's a customer relations management list or medical records, any data you have that needs storing, is stored on a database. You will need a database management system to add, access, edit, and process data in your databases, and MySQL is one of the best and most comprehensive packages on the market. MySQL can also be used as a relational database management system, which means it can store data in various tables that can communicate with one another rather than all in one large "storeroom" of data. You can run MySQL as a server in your local device or in a remote server. All you need to access your MySQL databases and MySQL functionality is your server name (such as the name server of your MySQL web hosting provider) or the appropriate IP address. You can then input your various commands, most likely using PHP scripts, to interact with your various databases. These commands are written on programming scripts. When choosing a MySQL web hosting provider, you'll want to consider some additional factors beyond the standard uptime, backup/redundancy systems, bandwidth, email, and bandwidth concerns. * Databases: If you're seeking a MySQL web hosting provider, you're surely planning on making databases a significant part of your web-presence. You therefore need to find a MySQL hosting provider that offers you at least as many data structures as you might need. A host that promotes itself as a MySQL hosting provider must offer its clients with multiple websites at least five databases. * Interface: You'll be working with your databases intimately and frequently. You'll want a MySQL hosting provider that's designed its admin interface with the MySQL user in mind. If you have various staff-members involved in the building and maintenance of your various tables and databases, you'll want to be able to create multiple user I.D.'s to allow varying degrees of secure access. CPanel is a good administrative dashboard to have for MySQL databases. * CRON support: A cron helps you to run specific scripts for regular, routine tasks to be run at periodic intervals. A MySQL hosting provider should allow you to set up and manage crons from your admin control panel. These scripts are also good for Preventive Maintenance routines. * PHP Info: The most common script for MySQL databases is PHP. A MySQL hosting provider with PHP extensions enabled is likely to be more frustrating than useful to you. By checking into a prospective MySQL hosting provider's PHP capabilities, you can ensure compatibility between your scripting language and your database management, thus saving yourself tons of trouble and loads of regrets later on. Remember, if you are running MySQL databases; make sure that you get a host that specializes in MySQL hosting. Using Managed Dedicated Web Hosting Managed dedicated web hosting is for an individual or company that wants storage and bandwidth without the restrictions that you get by choosing a free web hosting service. If you have a site which you want to have more bells and whistles programmed into it, then managed dedicated hosting is the way to go. Dedicated services give you more email addresses, sometimes up to 500 addresses. It also has storage to support basic database applications on the server side of the web host. This allows for the development of applications that enable you to store data on the server side also and have queries and other types of program and programming scripts embedded into your web-site. But the key to these kinds of servers are the bandwidth that's available to the user. Monthly bandwidth can range from 500 to 1000GB for the user. That's good for your basic SOHO business or home office because if you're running a small audio or flash application or database on your site, this type of hosting service should do just fine. Also, you can assign the other email accounts to co-workers, family members or whoever you want to. When you are running web applications over 1,000GB, that's when you should consider steeping up your web hosting package. There are various types of web plans based on the types of internet applications that you are developing for your business. For example, if you are developing online streaming video content for your site, then you might want to go past the 1000GB limit on your account and get more bandwidth. As a SOHO or company grows, the need for more bandwidth is paramount especially if you have an intranet in your office or you have people accessing the back end of your web-site to load data from various locations. Dedicated web hosting is what the majority of individuals and small businesses use until they start growing out of their bandwidth. They usually upgrade their web hosting packages and buy more storage and bandwidth. Using JSP as a Host Server JSP Hosting Basics JSP Hosting is a Java hosting program that has many similarities to Microsoft ASP. JSP hosting refers to the ability to run and manage Java Server Pages. Even though Java Server Pages (JSP) is quite similar to Microsoft's Active Server Pages (ASP) JSP does have slight differences in the hosting environment. Java Server Pages is a server-side language that uses simple tag-based codes inserted into HTML and XML to produce dynamic and interactive web pages that are platform independent, meaning that by all rights they should appear exactly the same on every computer screen, regardless of the platform. This is the result when your publish yoy JSP-coded website on a JSP-supported Java hosting provider. JSP allows web designers combine dynamically generated HTML in with their standard, static HTML code. While most CGI programs require you to compose the entire website in that one program, JSP allows you to compose the dynamic aspects and the static aspects of your site separately. Java Hosting which includes JSP support would be the logical choice of any web designer wishing to eliminate the irritating need to repeat work they've already done. Java hosting, and JSP hosting specifically, would also be an efficient choice for those web designers working with a team. One of the greatest aspects about JSP is that you don't need to learn Java to use it and it's practically built into programs like Macromedia Dreamweaver MX. JSP's use a variety of simple tags. The following are some of the most basic and common ones: * Directives: (%@directive%) Instructions processed when the page is compiled * Hidden Comments: (--comment--) Document the page, not sent to the client * Declarations: (%!declaration%) Declare methods or variables with scope throughout the page. * Expressions: (%=expression%) A bit more complicated to explain, expressions produce results which are then inserted into the output stream at the appropriate place * Scriptlets: (%scriptlet%) A fragment of code that can access a declared variable and execute it at a defined time. * Actions: (jsp:action) An XML-style tag that can perform any of a slew of functions So if you are running JSP, remember that you need to have a host that provides JSP runtime modules on the host side of your web server so that you can run the appropriate scripts.
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