If you want to be in World Wide Web (WWW), you have to publish your pages by hosting them in an internet server. It can be a full-fledged domain name like www.sitename.com or it can be a part of one existing domain name like www.some-service-provider.com/mysitename/. Internet servers are known as web hosting servers and are kept in locations with high speed internet connections. Theoretically even one desktop computer with web server software like IIS or Apache and connected to the internet can do the job of a web server. Here two important requirements are to be mate. First one is fixed IP address to locate the domain names hosted on the server and the other one is good internet connection to match the bandwidth requirement to cater the need of multiple visitors at a particular time. We will discuss different aspects of hosting and related issues here.
Bandwidth requirement for a web hosting plan: How much bandwidth we require to host our site. Is it same in all cases?
Hosting disk space requirements: How much space we need to host our site? Should I go for more space or go for less space and high bandwidth?
Type of Hosting Server: In which server I should take my plan? Should I go for Windows or Linux server?
Domain name: Domain name are included in my package? Should I go for hosting with domain name booked by my host or I should take up only hosting. Why I should get control over my DNS.
Database: Do I need one database support or I can manage without one? How many database I should get in my hosting plan.
Support: Can I get support at the time of need. What is the response time of my query? Do they have trouble ticket number system?
Email Accounts in web hosting services: Every hosting provider as a part of the offer or plan offers email address with the account. Learn different aspects of these offers.
Price: How much I should spend? Can I get one within my budget? Find your answer here.
Server types in Web Hosting
Web server is the computer where your web site pages will be stored. Here the type of web server means mostly the operating system running in it. It can be windows or Linux or UNIX system. This is the platform over which your other server software will be running. So this plays an important role in the web site requirements. You can plan your developer team, programmer and designers based on this. Mostly you will get two options in deciding the server software. One is a window and other is Linux. All most all hosting providers will offer you Linux hosting with few will offer window hosting. Power of Linux and its security is important features for which it is popular. The main reason is cost of developers in these platforms and the cost of hosting. Generally Linux hosting is cheaper than Windows hosting. Even though there are hybrid options are available but mainly there are two parallel offers available. We will discuss them in details here. We will discuss four requirements of each stream of systems.
LAMP: Here the operating system is Linux. Web server is Apache. Database is MySQL and scripting language is PHP
WIMA: Here the operating system is Windows 2003, web server is IIS (Internet Information Server), MSSQL is the database and Active Server Pages ( ASP ) or dot net is the scripting language.
However PHP, MySQL and Apache runs equally well in Windows platforms.
If you are not a tech guy then you need not worry about all these. If you are thinking of building highly content specific site with simple html pages then you need not worry about the server. Plain html pages works in both the servers. But if you have a script developed in ASP then you have to go for Windows server to host it. Same way ensure that PHP is installed in your server if you want to run your PHP script.
A common way of identifying the server while visiting a web site is by looking at the address bar. The file extension ends with .php then you can conclude that the page is written by using PHP script and most likely it is Linux operating system. If the extension is .asp then it is a window server. But these points are generally true but not always. The reason is PHP can run equally well in windows platforms and servers can be configured to run different scripts with any given extension. On this you can check the site www.netcraft.com to get more detail on the server running a web site.
Web Hosting email accounts
Email Accounts comes as a part of any hosting plan. With this one can have email accounts linked with the domain name. If I have a domain name www.mysite.com then I can create email accounts like email@example.com. This is one of the main advantage of having own domain name as we need not use the email address of free service providers like hotmail, yahoo etc. If you are a small business owner then you can create email address like firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com to handle different areas and assign mailboxes to your employees. Even you can forward all the mails to one account. This way you can win the confidence of your customers. Your hosting plan should include email options with different facilities. From the hosting control panel different accounts can be created. We will discuss more on this here.
Number of email accounts: With the hosting plan number of email accounts is to be specified. Many hosts offer unlimited email accounts to create. But most of the time we may not need so many accounts unless the organization is too big in number and areas. For such type or requirements it is advisable to go for dedicated hosting. So number of email accounts required is to be accessed while going for a hosting plan. The space requirement against each account can be managed from the control panel so total space requirement is to be seen beforehand the requirement comes up.
Web mail: We can manage our mails of our hosting accounts by using outlook exp or other mail management software. Web mail is a facility to manage mails from different locations without having such software. With this we can connect to our email account from any part of the world with an internet connected PC by using any web browser. For this we can use free services to access pop3 or imap4 accounts.
Spam Control: As obvious this is a big advantage in using email accounts of any hosting provider.
Auto responder: This is required to post some vacation messages with urgent contact numbers etc.
We can host our email accounts separately in other servers than hosting along with our web hosting account. For this MMX record of your hosting account has to be edited. Pointing to different server helps if your email server is reliable. Google offers this server through its google applications. You can use the gmail interface while handling your domain emails. This is a powerful service backed by google reliability.
Web Hosting disk space requirements
Hosting space is part of any hosting plan. Here we have to take care of our present requirement of space and join the plan. Hosts should offer us more space as and when need arises so there is no point is asking for more space at the beginning. With the fall in disk space cost we can get bigger space if the requirement is there. Here is a catch we have to careful on this. We have to link of our bandwidth requirement with our disk space requirement. Usually hosts offer more space at a less price to attract customer with out adding extra bandwidth. High disk uses also require high bandwidth consumptions in most of the cases unless they are used to store files or back up files only. There is no point in going for higher disk space without more bandwidth.
Our space requirement has to be decided based on the file size we have, whereas bandwidth requirement depends on number of visitors we will get and there activity within the site. If our site pages are consists of only text based files with little or no image then our space requirement will be very less. At the same time uses of images, animations, flash movies, video files require more disk space. It is a good idea to compress images for web applications before using them. This will not only reduce or space requirement but also give a faster loading experience to our visitors particularly for those with low speed dial up connections.
Sometime our disk uses will go up without our notice. For example sites which allows images or video files to be uploaded by the visitors will have to keep a close watch on the disk space use. Web host should send you an email alert when your site consumption reaches an alarming level say 90% of your allotted space. An easy up gradation of space should not be a problem with your host.
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