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Understanding Web Hosting


Websites are made up of web pages that could contain text, graphics, audio or video. But these files that make up the website must be hosted or housed somewhere and that somewhere is a web server. It is from this web server that different computers from different parts of the world can access your web pages as long as both the web server and the clients (personal computers) are online.

Any arrangement that is made to provide features for your web pages on any web server is what s commonly known as web hosting.

A typical configuration for web hosting comes like this Disk space - 10MB Bandwidth - 5GB Email - 3 POP email accounts Then features like Support for php, mysql, access, asp, perl, python FTP, Shell, Frontpage server extension or dreamweaver

Well, let us break these technical jargons down. The disk space simply tells you the amount of space that your website is allowed to make use of on any web server that it is hosted on. Generally, text take less disk space when compared to graphics or audio and video. So, depending on what you want to achieve with your website you select a web hosting package that will be enough for those files that will eventually make up your website.

The bandwidth takes care of the quantity of data that is allowed to move from your web server to all computers that may choose to visit your website. T s based on a monthly quota. An example will help explain this further let us say Mr A has a website with a lot of text and few graphics whereas Mr B as a website wt a lot of graphics and even video on his website. Let us also assume that the two websites are hosted on a web server with similar hosting features especially the bandwidth. Mr B's website is most likely to run out of bandwidth when compared to Mr A's website assuming the same number of people visit the two websites. Since bandwidths are based on monthly quotas, once you run out of bandwidth even if it is the first week of any month, your website will be shut down until the net month or until you upgrade to a higher web hosting plan with more bandwidth allocation.

The email is what almost everyone that has visited yahoo must have heard about. Our example web hosting plan simply tells you that you will have up to 5 email accounts attached to your domain like info@yourdomain.com, chairman@yourdomain.com etc. Even if a web hosting provider promises unlimited email addresses, just remember that on that particular server you have a stipulated disk space to make use of unless you are ok with say 300 email addresses with the quota large enough to handle just 2 or 3 email transactions and nothing more.

Php, Perl, Asp, Python are all programming languages that your web designer or better put your web programmer may make use of while putting your website together. Mysql or Access are simply databases your web developer may use in building a database driven website for your business. FTP is simply a protocol that allows you to remotely connect to your web server to transfers files to or from it. Frontpage and Dreamweaver are tools that are used to build websites very quickly and web hosting plans that support the extensions make life easy for you because you can have the software installed on your office or home pc and then design and transfer your web pages yourself to the web hosting server.

You may say all these features, acronyms and technical jargons do not concern you as a business owner. I won't advice you to think in that direction because sooner than later you will realize that you need to understand these things if you ever hope to negotiate favourably for your website project. In any case you are the one spending the money ands not the web developer, so naturally it should concern you.

Expensive versus cheap web hosting

Honestly what prompted me to write this piece is the constant question that all my prospective clients have asked me when discussing website development for their businesses. "Why are the web hosting plans on your website expensive?"

I will also provide the same response here and from now on refer such questions this article on the website instead of spending time answering the same questions over and over again.

A web server (software program like IIS or Apache) resides in a computer and serves web pages to client computers that request web pages from the web server (hence the name web server).

Any hard disk or group of hard disks could make up the total available disk space on that computer. The total disk space could be used solely for the web server or could be shared with other applications like a database server or email server.

For any disk space in question let us say for example we have 100GB disk space available for a web server. This web hosting arrangement could provide hosting for 200, 500, 10,000 or 50,000 websites.

Let us analyse the possblities

For 200 websites, each website could easily have 500MB disk space available to it. For 500 websites, each website could easily have 200MB disk space available to it. For 10,000 websites, each website could easily have 10MB disk space available to it. For 50,000 websites, each website could easily have 2MB disk space available to it.

Put differently, you could host any number of websites on any web serer configuration as a service provider but those that bear the brunt of such maximum carving out of disk space to maximize profits are the customers or the website owners. So, which do you prefer, to have your website comfortably hosting on a web server that will always have the resources available for your website or to allow your website fight for resources with about 50,000 websites.

If you have ever visited a website and instead of seeing the page you are looking for, you see "the website you are trying to reach cannot be found on the internet or is not available', then I have just told you why such messages come up.

Remember that each unique website will have its' own unique set of visitors and all these activities are on a single machine or web server. Properly set up web servers will simply stop and restart itself when all the resources are used or when the server is too busy to handle additional requests. This built in functionality (stopping and restarting) prevents the server from crashing and it is the period this stopping and restarting process takes place that the same website you visited just some couple of minutes ago could not be found on the internet.

So, it boils down to what you want as a business owner bearing in mind that you get what you pay for.

I hope this short piece has helped to arm you with relevant information that will guide you in making the best decision as far as web hosting is concerned for your website.
About the Author

Afam Nnaji is the Chief Technology Officer at Just Web Services. He can be contacted at afam@justwebservices.com or you may visit http://www.justwebservices.com .

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