Learning to Use Your Web Host the Right Way
By Sharif Aly
What is Web Hosting
The provision of access to websites and storage space to individuals and companies who owns websites is known as web hosting. This Internet Hosting service enables organizations and individuals to make the sites that they own accessible on the World Wide Web. The service also allows organizations and individuals to serve content on their web sites. A company that provides space on a server is called a Web hosts. This host may own or lease the server to provide website space as well as to provide internet connectivity such as a data centre. Web hosts also practices colocation, this is where they provide data center space within their data center in addition to connectivity to the Internet for servers that they do not own.
Typically a company will provide basic hosting services, however in recent times bundled packages have been made available to subscribers. Therefore, in addition to offering the basic web hosting services, a company may also offer Domain Name System (DNS) hosting, this is a service that would be included in a domain name registration offer. The company may also offer e-mail hosting service in its bundled packages.
By uploading through the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or a web interface, a web host will be able to provide basic services such as small-scale file and Web page hosting. With this service there is little or no modification to the files that is delivered to the web, it is usually uploaded as is with little or no processing. The basic service is usually offered for free by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to subscribers. But subscribers also have the option of accessing web page hosting from other service providers if they so choose. While a complex site, such as one that will provide database support and application development platforms, will require more comprehensive web hosting packages, like ColdFusion, Java, Ruby on Rails, ASP.Net and PHP, personal web pages only requires single page hosting.
The direction that data can be transferred to, from a client to a server, and the speed at which it takes to upload information is known as upstream. Whilst upstream speeds are usually faster as they are required by web server applications and similar processes to send critical data at a fast speed. Downstream speed is usually required by the average home user of the internet to download information and is usually not required to be fast. Except for the peer to peer software, which is the applications that allows computers to network or communicate without any stable host in the middle. This application which now drives the social networks and facilitates file sharing systems, requires speed in downloading information.
The amount of time a user has access to the internet is known as uptime. Most providers aim for three quarters of an hour of down time in a month or less, in other words their aim is for approximately 99.9% of uptime. Of course there is always the planned or unplanned maintenance time that may occur in any hosting environment. This disruption of the internet user’s time online may not be included in the stated uptime promise, of the host provider’s Service Level Agreement (SLA). Fortunately some providers will include in their Service Level Agreement a guarantee of a certain amount of uptime, which will include refunding of money or a reduced cost if the promised guaranteed uptime aim is not achieved.
Types of hosting
There are many different types of web hosting services that are provided by different companies, for example, there is the Shared, Managed, Cloud, Colocation, Free, Grid, Clustered and The home server hosting. Host service providers have been known to provide specific services such as file, service, image, video, blog and one-click hosting. In addition they have also been known to offer the pastebin shopping cart software and e-mail hosting services. Another type of hosting service that is quite common is the reselling of webhosting. This allows clients to also take on the role of a web hosts, a virtual Dedicated Server or a Virtual Private Server (VPS).
How to access Hosting
Should a customer decide to access Web hosting, they would have to first consider what they will be requiring of an application, in order to determine, what type of hosting would be best for them. The customer will need to consider software such as scripting software, database server software and the operating system that will be used. The Linux based web hosting operating system which offers a wide range of software is the most popular amongst web hosting providers. The Linux, Apache, MySQL are the typical configuration for a Linux server in addition to Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP), Perl and the Python script languages, which may also be used with the Windows hosting platform. With the Windows platform the hosts gets to also use the Classic ASP or ASP.Net which allows the web host to install or write application for blogs, content management, forums and e-commerce. It is also critical that the security of the subscriber’s data is assured and hence it is highly recommended that for e-commerce application the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is used to protect the information that is being communicated over the web.
Cost of Hosting
Other services that may be required by web hosting client’s maybe multi-media services for streaming media and email for their business domain. Even though web hosting is usually part of a bundled internet access plan, there are many providers who offer this service free of charge as well as there are some that charges for the service. Personal website hosting is usually free of cost, if a fee is charged; it usually tends to be minimal. More often where the service is provided for free, the providers who host these sites may recoup the cost from sponsored advertisements on the site. It should be noted that the hosting of business web sites is where hosting providers make majority of their income especially where they specialize in particular software like e-commerce.