Web hosting is a service that allows organizations and individuals to post a website or web page on to the Internet. A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed in the Internet. Websites are hosted, or stored, on special computers called servers.
When Internet users want to view your website, all they need to do is type your website address into their browser. Their computer will then connect to your server and your webpages will be delivered to them through the browser.
Most web hosting companies require that you own your domain name in order to host with them. If you do not have a domain name, the web hosting companies will help you purchase one.
The basic features of a web hosting plan include:
All web hosting accounts offer a certain amount of disk space that you can use to store your web files. It is recommended that you have some sort of estimates on what you need for various tasks - the amount of space you need for your emails, web files, databases, etc. By breaking down your usage, you can better estimate how much space you should go for.
Bandwidth or Data Transfer
Very often web hosts talk about bandwidth and data transfer as the same entity. However, they are in fact, different.
- Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred at one time.
- Data transfer is the actual amount of data transferred.
Think of it this way. If bandwidth were a tunnel, the bigger the tunnel the more cars can pass through it. Data transfer would then be the number of cars allowed to go through the tunnel in a given time period, say a month.
The less bandwidth you have, the slower it takes your website to load, regardless of your visitor's connection type. Visitors will have to wait their turn. The less data transfer you have, the more often you will find your website unavailable because you have reached the maximum amount of data allowed to be transferred.
To determine what is sufficient, you need to take into consideration the size of your website and the number of visitors you have in a month's time.
Email accounts are a common feature of web hosting, especially if you are hosting a domain. There are three main types of email accounts: POP3, forwarding, and aliases.
POP3 accounts are the traditional inboxes. You have space on the server to store your emails, and at the same time, you can use an email program to download your mail. Each login and password combination usually equates to one account.
Forwarding mail accounts are useful if you are employing the service of another company to filter your emails for you. Rather than storing your emails on your mail server, emails are redirected to another email address.
Aliases accounts are similar to forwarding mail accounts. Some hosts allow you to setup a catch-all alias, which is often used to collect emails sent to addresses not recognized by your mail server.
After you have created your web pages on your computer, you need to transfer those files to your web server. The files are transferred to the server by use of FTP.
FTP is also the protocol of downloading your web files from the server to your computer, ie. backing up your website files.