Introduction to Understanding The Internet and Web Hosting

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Introduction to The Internet

To fully understand Web Hosting, we should start with a brief introduction of the Internet. So, what exactly is the internet or World Wide Web? You’ve heard the term Information Super Highway.

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Servers and Protocols

Well, the internet is really made of servers. Think of servers as a more elaborate form of your home PC.  A server has hardware (a physical computer) and software on top of it. And all these machines communicate between each other. To do this they use what are called protocols. For example, to see the website, you’re using the https protocol. When you surf the web, you use the protocol http, https, or www. To send and receive email, you most likely use the SMTP, IMAP, or POP3 protocol. So, the internet or web is basically a bunch of machines running software that communicate between each other using protocols.



IP Address

The obvious question then is, with all of these millions of things using these protocols, exactly how do you find things on the web? Well, the answer has a real world explanation. In the real world every one has a home or business address. Likewise, on the internet, every thing also has an address. Every site site pretty much has what’s called an IP address. This gets us back to protocols. IP Address means Internet Protocol Address. An IP address is like your street address, your zip code, your town, and your state.

The Internet and Numbers

The internet is based on numbers. It’s really a series of 4 numbers separated by dots that recognize or identify a unique website. Even your personal desktop or laptop computer machine at home right now is using a unique IP address to say where you are at. If you’re old enough to remember when computers were in their infancy, there were these big  mainframe machines using punch cards with ones and zeroes. Well, so that we don’t have to remember these numbers, things have evolved.

Domain Names and Domain Name Server Resolution (DNS)

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Now, we map names. These easy to remember domain names are mapped to the IP addresses we mentioned earlier. The mapping of these domain names to IP addresses is called the DNS resolution process. Consequently, when you type in, you end up on the Google page. When you visit Google to find out something, you’re really visiting an IP somewhere on a server on the web.

Why do you need Web Hosting?

Whether you are an a beauty consultant, an affiliate marketer, a restaurant, an attorney,  or an upholsterer, you need a website in today’s world. You might get away without web hosting for a while. However, sooner or later,  you will see the benefits of having a website. When you reach that point and decide to have a website, you will need to host that website somewhere. That is what is meant by web hosting. You will need to put your website on the internet so other people can see it. At that point, your website will be on server. It will have an IP address. And anybody can go there and see it. You need web hosting for a website and email.

Introduction to Web Hosting

What is internet hosting? What is web hosting? It’s basically a piece of the internet. You can think of it as your condo or your house or whatever… depending on the size, your mansion on the internet. It’s basically a slice of a server, hardware and software and network that you have on the internet that anybody can come and see.

Types of Web Hosting

What are the different types of hosting? You have basically 3 types of web hosting – plus a 4th that is kind of new.

Shared Hosting

First is shared hosting. Most people start out here. Shared hosting is pretty much a server that is divided into 100 or sometimes even thousands of pieces and every customer has a little piece of that.

Usually, shared hosting accounts are pretty cheap. Hosting companies usually put hundreds or, sometimes, thousands of customers on a shared server. Most people exist for years on a shared server without any issues whatsoever. You have no interaction with the other users whose websites are stored there.  A risk can develop if one customer’s website overwhelms the the entire server. However, that is the exception, not the rule. When you establish you first website,  shared hosting is the best solution. Many users host several of their websites on shared servers. As you learn more about web hosting, or your business expands significantly and you’re making a lot of money, you may want to move up from shared hosting.

VPS or Virtual Private Server Hosting

The next type of hosting to consider would be a VPS or Virtual Private Server. A Virtual Private Server is divided a much smaller group of user – usually between 4 and 20 users. The separations between users are a lot stronger. It is very hard for one customer to bring down the entire server. But it is possible. Many users also host several of their websites on VPS servers.

Dedicated Server

Lastly, you have the dedicated server. A dedicated server is dedicated just to you. It is one server for you and your site or you and your multiple sites.

Cloud Hosting

The most recent web hosting solution is known as Cloud Hosting. Cloud hosting is similar to Cloud computing. Cloud hosting can combine any or all of the other three hosting solutions. The key difference is that the web hosting is not attached to one machine but multiple machines. With cloud hosting, many machines in different locations can provide, share, VPS or dedicated web hosting. So you have one more layer of virtualization to separate the software from the hardware. With cloud hosting, typically, when one server goes down, it doesn’t impact you that much because the software is still running on the other servers in different locations.

VPS or Dedicated Server?

VPS solutions are typically more for non-critical things. Because a high-end VPS can cost as much as a dedicated server, as an advanced user making a solid income from your website or websites, you might as well go for a dedicated server. The dedicated server is for you if you want no risk from other neighbors. The only thing that could happen to you is a network issue with your provider or a hardware failure. In that case, they just change the hardware and you’re back up and running. The more money you spend, the less risk you have. The less money you spend, the more risk you have.

Shared Hosting Most Common

On a shared hosting account, which is fine for 99% of the sites out there, you have more risk. If you have a website that’s making $20,000 a month and, around Christmas, developer Bob decides to do some php and he’s a beginner and does some errors in his coding, it could potentially impact the full server. It might take the hosting company a couple of weeks to figure that out, figure out who is doing that problem, creating that problem. Meanwhile, your site is impacted around Christmas, and you might be losing a lot of money every day.

Selecting the Right Hosting

So, if your site is making a lot of money, you definitely want to be on a dedicated server. The more money your site makes, the more you want to spend on your web hosting. So what are the selection criteria you have? On shared hosting, it’ll be disk space, the amount of space for your website, and the network traffic you could use every month.

Typically, you don’t have to worry about that. When you are beginning, most programs will be plenty enough for your disk space and your bandwidth. When you get into a dedicated server, your choice, your parameters will be the amount of RAM, or random access memory. Also, the power of your CPU is important here as well. By that we mean the power of the server, the number of instructions it can execute for a second, the disk configuration.

Features offered by Web Hosting Providers

Another criteria for selecting your hosting provider will be the features. So php, MySQL, whatever specificity of your website, if you have some, you want to validate those against the hosting provider. Most of them will support WordPress, Drupal. You might want to check but usually, they will list that.

Cpanel is a Must

One thing that can be crucial is using the standard control panel. The industry standard is known as cPanel. If you’re considering hosting your website with a provider and that provider doesn’t offer you cpanel for your shared hosting,  you should consider another hosting provider.  Cpanel is what allows you to run the back end of you web hosting. If you’ve had  a website hosted elsewhere, you ,most  likely, had cpanel. One of the main advantages of cpanel is that it is standard. So, if you decide to change your host, it is easy to export your site and import it into another host using cPanel.  Also, whatever company you choose, if they use cPanel, it’s the same interface to manage your backend. That means that you don’t have to learn a new interface each time you move to a new host. If someone tells you they have a control panel, it’s not necessarily cpanel. You should verify.

Personal Recommendation

Another important factor in selecting a hosting provider is recommendations. Do you have a friend? Do you know somebody who has hosted elsewhere? If you recommend a company that you use, that recommendation is way more valuable than an advertisement you see on TV or on their own website.

Managed Servers

Most times when you see managed server, it’s managed to a certain extent. You still need a webmaster or yourself to upgrade to a WordPress website or your Drupal website.

Problems Happen – It’s How they are Solved

Here are some final tips. If you see a company that’s not competent or you have to deal with the employee that’s not competent in that company, don’t waste your time. Get a different employee or move. As simple as that. There are plenty of good companies out there, plenty of people who are helpful out there. The other thing you should keep in mind is that in web hosting, as anything else, problems do happen. It doesn’t mean that it’s a bad company. You might have experienced hardware problems on your PC. Well, a hosting company runs hundreds, if not, thousands of PCs. So problems do happen. It’s how they handle the problem that makes a difference. If a company doesn’t really care about it, if they take forever, if they don’t realize how critical it is to you or your business, then you need to move on. That’s why it’s important, once you become a professional affiliate, to nearly always have some stuff hanging around there that you barely use – a dedicated server you’re playing with, you’re experimenting with. So if something happens, you can move out of there quick. I hope this helps and you’re understanding web hosting.

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