Web Hosting FAQ

What is web hosting?
Web hosting consists of renting storage space and data transfer (bandwidth) from a company in order to publish a website on the Internet. There are many types of web hosting including, free hosting, shared hosting, dedicated hosting, managed hosting, multiple domain hosting, colocation hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting, Windows hosting, Linux hosting and FrontPage hosting.
What makes a good web host?
The best web hosting providers offer reliable service coupled with excellent customer support and a plethora of features for all needs at the lowest possible price. The greatest distinction between good and bad is the amount of allocated resources for your money. Surprisingly, most providers deliver the same monthly plans at different prices.
Which is better large or small hosting companies?
This depends entirely on personal preference and business necessity. Large companies have a much better chance of remaining in business for a long period of time and therefore can negotiate better deals with third-party vendors. However, small companies typically provide more personalize support and have cheaper monthly hosting plans.
What is a webmaster?
The role of the webmaster is to manage a website. Most webmasters oversee the daily functions while maintaining the hosting, developing new pages and content for the site, optimizing those pages and promoting in search engines. The job can be demanding but also extremely rewarding.
What is virtual hosting?
More commonly known as shared hosting, this is the most popular type of hosting in the industry. Virtual hosting is sharing a server with hundreds of other websites. This includes sharing the bandwidth and storage space. Those who pay more monthly will receive more resources. Virtual hosting provides an inexpensive but reliable solution.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is a word or phrase that acts as a specific address on the Internet that identifies your specific website. This is also known as a top-level domain (TLD) and can also be expressed in the form of an IP address. Since an IP address is a string of numbers, this is more difficult to remember.
How can I register a domain name?
Surprisingly, this is an easy task to accomplish. First, you must ensure the domain name you want is available. This is completed using the WHOIS service. Once the name is found to be valid, simply visit a registration site like GoDaddy, DirectNIC, or Register.com to complete the transaction.
What is unlimited bandwidth, disk space and data transfer?
Although many web hosting providers claim to offer unlimited bandwidth, disk space and data transfer, the idea is impossible. These plans are always accompanied by terms and conditions that restrict the amount that can actually be used at a specific moment.
What is disk space and data transfer?
Disk space is the amount of space on the server allocated to your account. All content, video, audio, images and text must be stored somewhere and that is on a server. Each letter consumes a single byte while a megabyte equates to one million bytes. Websites with a large amount of content uses much more disc space than those without.
Data transfer or bandwidth is the amount of data being transferred to and from a site in a single month. This is typically measured in gigabytes which are billions of bytes. If you go over the allocated limit, the host will either issue overage charges or shut down your website. The overage is usually charged by the gigabyte.
What payment options are available for web hosting?
This question completely depends on the web hosting provider. However, most hosts accept credit cards, money orders and checks for the monthly bill. Many hosting providers are beginning to accept the universal method of payment: PayPal.
What is PayPal?
PayPal allows any individual with a checking account and/or credit card and email address to send money to anyone else with a bank account and email address which could be another human being or a company. Users signup and enter the required banking information. Once completed, your email address is the only piece of information needed to make financial transactions.
Are there extra costs for securing a website?
Yes, to secure a website you must go through a third-party verification process which awards a digital certificate once complete. The most common certificate authorities are VeriSign, Equifax Secure and Thawte.
What does “Full-service web hosting” mean?
Full-service web hosting typically indicates that multiple services are provided by the web host such as, around the clock customer support, web design services, a marketplace, website content management services, managed hosting and much more. The company basically is your “one stop shop” for every aspect of web hosting.
What is web mail?
Web mail is the browser version of the email directories found on your server. Almost all web hosting providers offer this service for easy access to email. Also, all emails can be downloaded through a client like Microsoft Outlook.
Does the type of computer I use have any bearing on web hosting?
No, using a desktop, laptop, Mac or PC will not affect the servers. However, if you wish to create content for you website, a faster computer will help you complete this task. Also, if you wish to develop scripts for your website from our computer, it is better to have faster equipment.
What are ASP, PHP and Perl?
All three are internet programming languages; ASP stands for Active Server Pages, PHP equates to Hypertext Processor and Perl is not an acronym. Each has its respective pros so it is best to conduct extensive research on the three languages prior to selection.
What are MySQL and MS SQL?
MS SQL and MySQL are used with databases that correspond to the Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Depending on your web hosting provider and the monthly plan, you can use databases to keep information organized.
How can visitors view Flash on my website?
Flash is an add-on feature that runs on your local computer, not the host’s servers. The user must simply have the correct plugin in order to view the Flash content. If they don’t an option is always available to download and install the software locally onto the user’s computer.
How can I keep track of the number of visits my sites acquires?
There are two ways to track: server-side and remotely. Server-side statistics create log files which generate guest information. This is typically much more accurate than remote tracking. To track using the server-side method, you need to add JavaScript to your site. To track your visitors remotely, there are a number of software programs program.
If I change web hosting providers, do I have to change my domain name?
Absolutely not, as long as the domain name is registered in your name, you simply change the name servers from your old provider to the new host. Name servers can usually be found in any control panel under your account.
Will forced advertising be on my site?
This depends on the type of hosting you plan to utilize. Most free web hosting providers automatically place ads across the user’s website. This is the primary way in which they generate money. However, almost all paid monthly hosting plans do not force advertisements on your website allowing you to add whatever you wish.
Can you explain the idea of domain parking?
Domain parking allows you to purchase a domain name and literally “park” it on the internet with a coming soon page that appears once clicked. However, this page is not needed as it will simply be inaccessible to anyone. Most domain companies provide this service free of charge.
What are subdomains?
A subdomain is literally an extension of your top-level domain. For instance, if your site is www.domain.com then a subdomain would be my.domain.com. These are typically viewed as separate sites from the main domain.
How do I upload my site to the server?
There are a variety of ways to complete such a task with the most common method being File Transfer Protocol (FTP). When your web hosting account was created, an FTP username and password should have been provided. The best FTP software is CuteFTP and WS_FTP which allows you to log on to your host. Once logged in, you can drag and drop files from your computer directly to the server allowing them to become available immediately.
What is the definition of uptime?
Since uptime is the amount of time a server is functioning correctly over the span of a month, it is one of the most important functions of a web hosting provider. The best possible uptime 100 percent indicating that the servers never stop working. However, since companies are unable to predict the future, it is impossible to have 100 percent uptime. Therefore, most web hosting companies deliver a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee which would state that if the servers are down more than 43 minutes per month, you will be reimbursed.
What is the primary difference between Windows and Linux?
Selecting an operating system to host your site can be difficult. Therefore, it is important to select the software that suites your needs and gives you the most advantage. For instance, if you require products like ASP, MS Access and VBScript, Windows is the best selection. If you need superior stability and lower cost, Linux is the way to go.
Can I host my own site?
Self-hosting is definitely a possibility but not usually recommended. Most internet service providers have strict rules that do not allow you to use the internet connection to host. This typically results in the termination of your account.  Also, self-hosting can provide some major headaches as you must ensure the system is secure, have your computer running around the clock and apply updates constantly. Additionally, you will need to invest in high-powered equipment to maximize performance.
Why would I ever need a dedicated IP address?
The majority of website operators do not need an IP address. However, for those looking to maximize performance due to high traffic, require an anonymous FTP or need to utilize SSL, the dedicated IP address is the best method.
What shouldn’t I choose the cheapest web host available?
Cheap web hosting is great for low-traffic sites, personal pages and start-up businesses. However, it is unlikely you will remain at the free plan forever due to limited performance and allocated resources. Also, more providers will forcibly upload advertisements to your website.
Is there any way to decrease the amount of bandwidth I use each month?
In the majority of instances, this is a possibility. One easy method is to optimize the graphics on your website. Many GIF’s and JPEG’s can be improved by decreasing the amount of colors and implementing a high compression level. Also, analyze the HTML code on your website and remove any excess spaces with links to other pages, utilize relative paths and look for redundant code.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization which is the idea of optimizing a website to increase the amount of traffic generated by search engines. By adding relevant content, keywords and having a large number of links, your website can be optimized.
I see numbers listed under the “space” and “transfer” categories, what do they mean?
Space is the amount of disk space allocated to you to add your website and content. Therefore, the number under space indicates the amount of storage left based on your monthly plan. This is usually expressed in terms of megabytes. Obviously the more content you add, the more disk space will be consumed.
Similarly, transfer is the amount of data transferred to and from the server across an Internet connection. Therefore the numbers below the transfer category indicate the amount of information that has been sent and received, in gigabytes. Once the monthly transfer rate is reached, extra fees are applied for more.
Do I need statistics?
Websites statistics are a vital function for any successful site. It is usually not necessary to purchase a third-party program when the server provides and analyzes this information. These statistics should be review regularly to look for trends on specific days.
How much data transfer do I need for my website?
The answer to this question really depends. Luckily, there is a mathematical formula to figure this out. Simply estimate your average page size (with graphics) and multiply it by the overall number of page views you expect for the month. For example, an average page size of 50 KB generating approximately 2,000 views per day equates to 3 GB’s per month. To be on the safe side, purchasing a plan of 4 to 5 GB’s is in order.
How do hosting providers make money from high transfer limits at a low price?
These companies specifically rely on the fact that most of the websites on each server will not use a fraction of the entire amount of resources allocated to them. Therefore, this is a simple example of overselling a product. The airlines are another prime example of utilizing this practice.
What should I do if my host is a reseller?
Nothing. In many cases you will receive better support or prices from the reseller as compared to the base company. Resellers are typically smaller companies that have an account with a larger company. The reseller acquires a reseller plan and breaks it down into various accounts allowing them to charge less.
What is a dynamic web page?
Dynamic web pages are typically used with scripting languages such as, ASP or PHP, to adapt the current content to various situations. They can also be utilized to upload information and store it on the server. For instance, web logs, forums, chat rooms and guest books are all dynamic web pages.
What is a static web page?
Static web pages are regular pages written with HTML code so no pre-processing is necessary on the web server. Static web pages differentiate themselves from dynamic web pages as they can contain Flash, Shockwave, JavaScript and traditional Java. Non-HTML code must use browser plug-ins to be functional.
What is a web robot?
Web robots are automated programs that retrieve information from web pages through links that have been clicked in the past. Search engines use these to include in the results of a specific search. Another type of web robot follows the same concept but is maliciously used to harvest email addresses found on web pages which are then sold to spammers.
What is the robot.txt file?
This file is the main directory of your website retrieved by a web robot to learn if any section of your website should be excluded from a search. If no areas need to be restricted, it is vital to leave this file empty in your main directory.
What is an SSI?
SSI stands for Server Side Includes which is directives in HTML pages that are reviewed by your server before being accessed. SSI’s utilize small files for all text on web pages to collaborate all items into a single file. This allows for easy editing and addition of menu items.