What Is Domain or Web Hosting?
Web hosting means providing (“hosting”) space on the Internet. Web hosting services allocate room for their customers to build websites. These websites are stored in a physical location, a computer server that is constantly connected to the Internet. That’s why web hosting service exist — everything you read and see on the Internet has to be stored on a computer somewhere in the world.
What Are Servers?
Servers are computers with tons of hard drive space. Such is the demand for space on the web that servers usually have multiple hard drives. Space on these servers is rented out to people who want to put up a website or store data on the Internet.
Each server connected to the Internet has a unique numerical address, just like the address on your home. For servers, this address is called the IP, or Internet Protocol, address. Think of a server as an apartment complex with units inside at their own unique address. Renting space on a server is like renting space in an apartment building. Your own Internet connection has a unique IP address too, but most likely your computer is not acting as a server.
Renting space on a server to put up a website is like setting up your first apartment on the Internet. Traffic comes to your website when people stumble across your address online (the website address or URL) which is connected to your server’s IP address.
Web Hosting Services
Web hosting servers store and deliver websites to Internet users, and all this costs money. The servers must be purchased, setup, configured, and maintained so that data stored on the server remains available on the Internet. That’s why web hosting services (the folks that own the servers) charge a monthly or yearly fee. These fees allow users to both upload files to the web server and for other Internet users to download the files that have been uploaded.
Web hosting is competitive. Everyone wants to be online, and everyone wants to pay the lowest price for the best features. In an attempt to drum up business, web hosts now offer a variety of bells and whistles. You’re no longer just shopping for web hosting. Now you can trick out your web experience with special features.
Web hosting comes in different flavors. Most of the time, you buy hosting packages that consist of different features for different needs. One customer may want a simple blog with text and a few photos and links, while a website like Amazon.com requires tons of additional functionality and space. Some things that can be included in your web hosting package — computer “scripts” that allow different interactive features, forms for retail shopping, bulletin boards, member forums, guest books, etc. The list of add-ons to your website available through web hosting is endless.
When people want to open a website for their business, there are professional Web hosting packages that include features useful for people doing commercial activities. Different business tools, such as point of sales packages, credit card processing, and live chat support, are combined with traditional web hosting features to attract the attention of business owners.
How Much Does Web Hosting Cost?
The fee you pay for web hosting varies from free to hundreds of dollars a year, depending on how you use the Internet and how much space you need. Web hosting for a simple personal website doesn’t require any special tools or features, and with the low amount of traffic required for a personal website, it’s easy to find low-grade web hosting for free.
On the other end of the spectrum is the kind of web hosting that a website like Facebook requires. Imagine warehouses containing tens of thousands of square feet of servers all running liquid-cooled at full tack. That’s the kind of data storage required by the world’s most popular websites, and it doesn’t come cheap.
Using free Web hosting for your personal website is great for obvious reasons. But there are a few drawbacks even for people who want to run a simple blog. Nothing’s free, after all, and you should expect to allow the server that you’re using at no cost to run ads on your website. You don’t have a say in the ad content, and you can’t alter the ads in any way. This is the price you pay for free web hosting. If the ads bother you, it’s likely that your web hosting service offers a pay plan that will remove the ads. Someone has to pay the web rent, and if it isn’t you, it’s going to be advertisers.
Something else to watch for when considering free web hosting — most free hosts require that your website’s URL be an extension of their own address. Your URL will look something like this: http://www.WebHost.com/Jack’sWebSite. If you’d prefer to have a URL without the web host’s name included, you’ll have to pay to register your own unique URL.
Web hosting services are the landlords of the Internet, and while paying rent is no fun, paying your online rent allows you to run your business online, access your favorite websites, and even perform basic functions like check email and chat.
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