Web Hosting Explained
Well the purpose for this article is to explain the concept of web hosting and how it works. First let me start by saying that you might want to open up http://www.yahoo.com so that you can use it for reference.
Basically web hosting is storing data contents on a web server and then accessing them by using a browser such as Internet Explorer. Now a web server is a computer that is modified to be used for the complicated and system hogging resources that a web site needs to function. For an example of what a server looks like you can go to http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/pedge_7250?c=us&cs=555&l=en&s=biz.
Now you are probably wondering well can’t I modify my computer and use as a server? It is possible but it is expensive and requires a lot of maintenance and work and a lot of skills/experience. Most websites are located in what is called a datacenter. A datacenter is a physical building where servers are located at and modified to occupy servers. The most famous datacenter is The Planet (http://www.theplanet.com) and many sites are hosted there currently. Just to give you an idea of how complex a datacenter needs to be go to http://www.theplanet.com/datacenter.html.
Ok now I will get down to what this means to you and how you can apply to this to your website. There are 3 options that you can use depending on your budget and the amount of traffic your website has. The first route is the cheapest and the most effective for beginners and that is free web hosting. I own a free web hosting company at http://www.explosive-hosting.com and it has its advantages and disadvantages which will be discussed in the next paragraph.
Well free web hosting has many advantages and disadvantages. Some advantages could be that it is free and is not as complicated as more up-scale hosting options. Some disadvantages could be that it does not provide as much space and bandwith as other hosting options, a lot of times you will post at a forum for your hosting or place ads on your website, and the support will most likely not be as knowledgeable and helpful as other hosting options.
The next option that you can use is called shared hosting. Shared hosting is a more advanced version of free hosting but it is not free. Some advantages to shared hosting is that you get more space and bandwith then free hosting, there are usually the same if not more features included, and the support is more knowledgeable and helpful then free web hosting. Some disadvantages could be that with more features come more frustration and more skills needed to maintain your hosting and to pay for hosting a lot of hosts will only accept credit cards which can be a security issue for a lot of people. In my past experiences I can recommend that you use http://www.asmallorange.com/services/hosting/ and http://www.hostingzoom.com/hosting.html (current host for this site). Keep in mind when you look for a shared hosting account that if you don’t use the hosts I provided you will have to keep your budget very flexible and be sure to research for positive review on http://www.webhostingtalk.com
The third option that you can use is called reseller hosting. Reseller hosting is very similar to shared hosting except that you can host multiple websites on one web hosting account. Some advantages to reseller hosting is that you can give or sell your extra web hosting space to your friends or anyone else to help pay for your account and you usually get extra features with reseller hosting. Some disadvantages could be that when you give away extra accounts you will have to have time to help them out and with a reseller account you get an extra control panel that you will need to learn how to use in order to control you and your customer’s accounts. In my past experience I would recommend that you use http://www.hostingzoom.com/reseller.html. Keep in mind that with reseller hosting that you might be getting the same space as shared hosting but be aware that it can cost you a lot more depending on your host.
The fourth and most expensive option is called dedicated hosting. Dedicated hosting is when you lease or own your own web server. Some advantages could be that you get a crazy amount of space and bandwith and you get a lot more control and features over a shared hosting account. Some disadvantages could be that it costs A LOT more then shared hosting and you will have to do a lot of the maintenance that is normally done for you. I have not personally ever had a dedicated server but from other people’s feedback I would recommend using http://www.servermatrix.com. Keep in mind that you will typically pay anywhere from $150-500 to lease a server or anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000 for server and then $200-$500 to rent space at a datacenter. I would strongly suggest that you only go down this road once you have a popular site that is generating enough ad revenue for you to maintain a dedicated web server.