Basic Concepts of Web HostsAuthor: Web Hosting
The one who wants to enter in this web world and desires for a long time survival, then he/she should be familiar with each and every terminology used in this field. If user considers all the important factors before choosing a hosting plan then only he/she will be able to have a successful future in this world .User should not choose any of the plan, rather he/she should opt the best and most suitable one and this can only be made possible by fetching more and more informations and also by studying properly all the requirements. New comers should start from the basics .They should learn the meaning of each and every term used and also in addition those factors that can affect his/her selection.
Web host refers to a computer connected to the internet. Web host can also be termed as ‘web server'. The computer that is playing the role of the web server needs to be more powerful than normal PCs and the function of this web server is to serve up websites.
The website content of the user will remain will on this computer, so as the people who are surfing on the internet can get a way to access his/her website.
There can be three main categories in which the web host can be classified based on the economic factor and common features:
1. Free Hosts:
The users who are not professional but are making website only as a hobby then for them free hosting can be a good option. In free hosting space, bandwidth and other features provided are very limited. With free web hosting one can not only make his/her website successful but is also suitable for personal websites or for temporary usage. Generally free hosting enforces pop-up, text or banner ads. Reliability, best performance and customer support lacks in case of free hosting as well. When a user registers for a free host then the word free host gets added with the user's domain name that gives an adverse effect in the eye of the visitors.
2. Shared Hosts:
The next type of the web hosting to be discussed is shared hosting. This hosting service is used by many of the web sites .This type of hosting service is Suitable for personal, small and medium businesses. This service can be used by paying $1 to $25 per month. The features provided by this service vary from very limited space/bandwidth to semi-dedicated servers. The users host their website by this type of hosting service and it has its own top level domain facility. No doubt that shared web hosting is quite better than free hosting but still it does not provide 100% satisfactory services. In case of shared hosting one server is shared by the number of websites so its performance and availability gets affected. More websites usually means less performance. If less number of websites are hosted by one server then it will be more expensive, but in this case there are more chances of reliability. There are many companies allowing customers to host multiple websites with different domains under a single account.
3. Dedicated Hosts:
The next type of hosting is dedicated hosting. This type of hosting is most reliable hosting. In this type of hosting a full server is dedicated to a single customer. Generally this type of hosting is used by large businesses, professionals and very active websites dealing with thousands of visitors daily. The customers having dedicated hosting can have their total control over the server as well as able to create as many websites as they like. Customers can run their own hosting company on a rented dedicated server. Payment module is mentioned according to specifications and services provided with the server, which varies from $100 up to about $800 dollars per month.
4. Collocated Hosts:
Now the other type of hosting service to be discussed is collocated hosting. This service is very much similar to dedicated hosting. The difference between collocated hosting and dedicated hosting is that in collocated hosting the customer owns the server hardware instead of renting it. In this service the server will be placed in provider's data center. This service is more expensive than dedicated hosting.
5. Reseller Hosts:
In reseller hosting the providers offers web server storage to their customers, and resells the web server storage to them. Generally providers offer resellers a discount price.
6. Other Hosts:
Including the above type of hosts there are also many other hosts such as email hosts, media hosts, data hosts, etc but these hosts will not be discussed in this article.
Domain name is the name which shows the place where one's website is located. The actual address of the website is a set of numbers. Each and every web server has its own unique address. Domain name indicates the real addresses of every websites. One can easily remember the domain name of any of the website. Remembering domain name is easier than recalling the IP addresses.
Space / Storage
Space is one of the services provided by the web host. It plays a very important role in the website development. It happens many times that the customer requires more space but the host fails to provide it, so customer should be very careful while choosing the web host. Storage is the amount of web server's disk space available for customer's website files, images and databases. Space can be according to the requirement; it can be as small as 5MB in some free hosts and as big as 300GB for some dedicated servers. Earlier prices of the space were very high but prices reduced significantly during the last few years. The hosting plans offering 3GB of space for less than $10 a month can be easily available.
Bandwidth can be defined as the amount of data transferred from web server to clients' internet browsers. When ever a person outlook a page the data is transmitted from the server to that person' PC. If any one is having audio, video and images in his/her website then the bandwidth consumed is more in comparison of the website having only text contents. The bandwidth available in free hosting can be as low as 100MB per month where as in some dedicated servers the bandwidth available is as high as 2000GB a month. The customers who don't want to pay more for bandwidth can easily find hosting plans offering 75GB of monthly data transfer for less than $10.
Generally server means the operating system than runs the web server. Some common types are Windows, Linux and UNIX. Server type refers the server side scripting and database types. The difference between Windows server and Linux/UNIX is that Windows runs ASP and ASP.NET with Access or SQL Server databases where as Linux/UNIX servers usually runs CGI, PHP or JSP with MySQL or Oracle databases. The other difference is that Windows servers are more expensive than Linux/UNIX servers.
As server type is discussed earlier also, we are able to know that there are different types of databases available. The mostly used is MySQL as it is open source GPL (free) software and can serve a lot of online applications' requirements such as forums, content management, mailing lists, etc. MySQL, rather its features are limited. MySQL is sufficient for small concern but it is not powerful for the complicated large business sites. Large business requires more powerful databases such as Oracle or SQL Server.
Server Side Scripting
Usually the new comers prefer to use PHP as server side scripting. The reason behind this is that there are hundreds of open source (GPL) PHP scripts that are able to fulfill the webmaster's requirements. However PHP also has some limitations in features required by advanced websites same as in the case of MySQL, due to this limitation some professional web developers prefer to use ASP.NET or JSP. Some other developers still prefer to use Cold Fusion, CGI, ASP or PERL.
Now the next very important aspect to be talked about is Email. At present no one can move further in this computer world with having his/her Email account. The one who is planning to do any kind of activity through computer such as to run a business or to provide any kind of service, then the first thing he/she need to do is to open an Email account. There are many hosting plans that include the feature of having some email accounts with customer's domain. The availability of number and size of email accounts totally depends on the hosting plan one opted. Generally this feature is not included in free hosting. Small plans provide only about 10 accounts where as big plans do not have the limited number. Usually those email accounts are web based and accessible through POP3 clients as well.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
The other service is FTP. File Transfer Protocol is a usual way of transferring files across the Internet. Most of the webmasters used to upload and download their websites contents through FTP. The process of uploading or downloading is performed by using FTP client software. Webmasters require FTP username and password so as to access their web server. There are any hosts who use to provide more than one FTP account to their customers as per their requirement. Rather FTP is unspecified; it is not advisable as per the security reasons.
Control panel is the service available by many of the web hosting companies to their customers. It is a web based application that helps in managing websites. Some important functions performed by the control panel are that it used to manage email accounts, providing statistics, managing FTP accounts, managing domains and sub-domains and managing databases. The control panel application that is mostly used by the user is cPanel. There are many companies who use to develop their own control panel application.
Now after having all the services, the thing of concern which remains is how the user keeps his/her website uptime most of the time. If anyone is having a website with excellent features but it remains down most of the time it will be of no use, as when ever the visitors visit his/her website and found it down then later on they will think twice before visiting it. In result he/she will suffer the loss of visitors. Uptime is very important feature of web hosts and that is usually measured in percentage. If a server remains down near about 30 minutes a day will have an uptime percentage of about 99.98%, which is acceptable for most small to medium business websites. If any of the business website is not having at least this percentage of uptime then that website is not suitable for a business website. Mission critical sites cannot tolerate frequent outages, thus they may use web monitoring services to notify web administrators immediately when an outage happens.
Finally the factor left is price. In this option also there is a great variability found like for example customer is having option to choose between the prices ranging from 0 to $1000 per month. For most personal, small and medium websites the total amount of cost involved is just $15 per month. Thus its not at all advisable for business website owners to select very cheap plans let say less than $5 because this price can lead to huge cost indirectly afterwards.