Web Hosting Articles

Web Hosting Guide for Beginners


This article originally appeared on DirHost.com

Being a beginner in something doesn’t make you naive in all areas. You might be a newbie in one sector, but a proficient in another area. So, feel free to read our web hosting guide that brings you all-inclusive information regarding to taking your business on the web.

In our guide we shall cover various definitions pertaining to web hosting, how web hosting works, types of web hosts, functions of domain names, how to begin a website, among other vital issues that beginners need to know.

This guide should be your ‘memory verse’ because it articulates every bit of information, and simplifies everything for better understanding. So, if your tie is bothering you now, put it aside... let’s move together!

Section One: Introduction

Web Hosting. If you ask a professional “what is web hosting?” you will get a very short answer – “it is a computer where websites resides”. Of course, the answer is very right, but for beginners we have to be more elaborative. Web hosting involves a space created on a super computer, usually known as a server, where websites resides. A server (computer) contains special software, which hosts files for your website and connect them to the internet where people can access your website using other computers/devices.

The concept of web hosting should not be made complex due to the fact that it involves technology inside. To make it clear, anyone with a computer can be a host for his or her own website as long as you have the technical knowledge to do it. However, due to lack of the required skills, most website owners rent servers from web hosting companies. With a web hosting company, your website files will reside within the company’s server.

Now you know what web hosting is. Therefore, we are going to differentiate between Web Hosting and Data Center. Keep reading...

Web Hosting vs Data Center. As a newbie in the concept of the World Wide Web (www), these two terms – web hosting and data center - can puzzle your mind a little bit. Both are inter-related, but they are not similar. However, you are at the right hands because we are here to help you understand what you deserve.

When we talk of web hosting, simply means a server where your website resides. A hosting company rents out a server space to a website owner, from which other computers’ users can access files of your website through internet connection (connection of multiple computers).

A data center on the other hand, is like a storeroom that hosts computing facilities such as servers, backup equipments, routers, fire suppression facilities, and climate conditioning like air conditioning among others. In our case here, data center houses servers, implying that web hosting is a constituent of data center.

To make it simpler, you need to differentiate the two through the following statement; “Web hosting refers to a server that hosts a website, while data center is a facility that hosts a server”.

Bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of data or traffic that can be transferred through your website in a given time. Web hosts allows a maximum data transfer, usually counted per seconds.

Nowadays, bandwidth is no longer a consideration when choosing a web hosting company because the data transfer rate has been constantly going down. Your web host will not limit your bandwidth on the grounds that you need to pay more for that! However, for the websites with much content rich pages such as videos, and also those receiving too much traffic, a web hosting company will consider giving a better option to cater for that need.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP). File Transfer Protocol is a protocol through which files can be uploaded from a computer to a website or downloaded from a website to a computer by internet users. This standard network protocol utilizes two communication channels; a command channel and a data channel between a client and a server to transmit file contents.

Conversation is initiated by a client requesting a server to allow file downloads. A client can as well delete, rename, copy, or move files on a given server. Though sometimes a user may be required to log onto a FTP server, some servers allow users to access their content without login, usually referred to as anonymous FTP.

4 examples of FTP clients:

Section Two: Four Types of Web Hosting Packages

May be you have just finished building your website, and you are looking for which web hosting company to choose. Before jumping to select a host, first you need to understand the available packages offered by hundreds of hosts. There are 4 common types of web hosting, though each comes with its own features.

Since websites differ as far as the amount of traffic is concerned, so too is the required features that a website needs from a host. So, web hosting companies provide several distinct packages, with different costs.

Though your website will reside in whichever package you choose, let us look at each one of them to see where and why the difference comes in.

1. Shared Server Hosting. As the name suggest, this hosting package involves several websites using the same server. Due to that sharing aspect, this option is cheaper in terms of money, usually less than $10 per month. It is basically less technical, and a suitable server for sites that do not receive a lot of traffic.

If you are beginning a small business, shared server hosting can be a better option due to low cost. However, your website performance can be affected if another site receives more traffic, though this challenge has been mitigated through the New Grid technology used by established hosting companies such as GoDaddy. This technology allows allocation of resources to specific sites, without interfering with the rest of the sites.

A data center on the other hand, is like a storeroom that hosts computing facilities such as servers, backup equipments, routers, fire suppression facilities, and climate conditioning like air conditioning among others. In our case here, data center houses servers, implying that web hosting is a constituent of data center.

As much as hosting companies have tried to improve reliability of shared server hosting, website owner doesn’t have significant control over how the server is organized.

2. Virtual Private Server (VPS). For Virtual Private Server, websites are no longer contained in a single cocoon, instead, every website has its own space, though still sharing the same server. In other words, a server host is partitioned into several virtual servers where each website appears to be using a dedicated server, but in real sense all websites are sharing a single server.

The interesting part of this hosting package is that, each and every user can exercise a significant control over the server’s configuration, implying that users can decide what to install and not to install on the server.

Though you may enjoy greater control on the configuration, this hosting type has little extra benefits to users, and is costly compared to shared option. However, it is suitable for small businesses that require more control over their server.

3. Dedicated Server. Dedicated server involves providing a website full space together with its own server. Neither does the website shares a space nor a server with other websites, hence providing full control over the server where your website resides. In case your website is not receiving traffic as expected, or there is a problem in terms of performance, you can take necessary action whenever you wish.

This hosting package is best suitable for large established companies that need full control over their servers. However, it is complicated and more expensive in terms of money compared to shared and virtual server hosting options.

4. Cloud Hosting. Cloud hosting is the latest form of hosting package where data is extended over a bunch of connected hard drives, which appear as a virtual disk with enormous capacity. It comprises of multiple servers that provide web hosting services to several websites through use of multiple computers with automated abilities to scale up or scale down.

When we talk of web hosting, simply means a server where your website resides. A hosting company rents out a server space to a website owner, from which other computers’ users can access files of your website through internet connection (connection of multiple computers).

Cloud hosting is more advanced because it can handle high traffic to any website, and the users pay for what they have utilized, unlike the other three web hosting packages. However, users do not have a dedicated server, implying that you have no control of the server. It is suitable for websites that are likely to receive unpredictable traffic, hence can be used by all businesses, from small to large enterprises.

Since we have discussed the main 4 web hosting packages, the following are the current leading web hosts you can rely on:

Linux vs Window Servers: Which to Choose? Before jumping to section 3, let us say something small about Linux and Windows Servers. The above listed hosts, most of them, offer both servers. However, for the beginners, Linux is recommended because it’s versatile and most applications (both Linux and Windows applications) can run on it, unless your website has a specific application for Windows.

Section Three: Domain Names

Domain Name Definition. A domain is simply the name of your website, for instance, Yahoo.com is a domain name which gives an identity to Yahoo website. Another good is example is Google.com among many others. In short, a domain name is the identity of your website. Every website owner will need a domain name, which is acquired through registration with accredited domain registrar.

Through reliable registrars, you will know the process of registering, requirements, and prices. As a beginner, you can use the following reliable five (5) domain registrars:

Alright, let’s take a quick look at the difference between web hosting and a domain.

Web hosting vs Domain name. Web hosting is the space where your website resides, while domain name is the identity of that website. In the internet, your website will be differentiated from others through its domain name – identity.

So, the host (computer storage) stores and processes your website files, while the domain name (identity of your website) is presented through a few characters which refer to your website’s name.

What Is the Fate of Your Domain Privacy? Once you have registered your domain name, it is a requirement by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to avail your personal information about the domain name on WHOIS directories. The details include your name, email address, contact number, domain registration and its expiry date. Anyone can have access to these details, implying that anyone can know the owner of a particular website at anytime.

Therefore, you need to be aware that your domain information can be accessed by dishonest individuals with an intention to commit undesirable activities. In some cases, fraudsters may attempt to steal a domain name from the owner by posing like legitimate companies, or request for payments for renewal purposes. So, be aware of such illegal scammers!

In addition to this, your web host should be very reliable in case you want to include a sub-domain. The process of adding a sub-domain should not be complex at all, instead, should be straightforward with your web hosting company. Therefore, check if the web host offers this feature before striking a deal.

Section Four: Finding a Web Hosting Company

For beginners, choosing a suitable web hosting company can be perplexing despite the hundreds of them available today. However, we shall take you through a few tips to enable you make an informed decision – relax and keep reading...

Finding a web host can seem to be a big task, whether you are planning to set up a personal page or getting your business website on the World Wide Web. The following are tips to get started, and eventually get to where you want to be:

1. Check the Server Stability This can be achieved by checking what other websites have rated a particular hosting company. Be careful while checking the rates, and more importantly, consider the downtime percentage. Even though business websites are critical when it comes to downtimes of a host, even non-commercial sites can be highly affected by frequent outages because visitors will find it difficult to access your website.

Basically, a host should not exceed 40 minutes of downtime in a month, since this equals to only 1% overall downtime. Any percentage exceeding this figure implies that the host is not significantly reliable to host your website. If the driving factor was price, don’t panic - there are many other hosting companies with better percentage rates at the same price!

2. Examine Its Customer Service. If you have a web based business, choosing a hosting company that handles customer services well can be a better option. For instance, customers need to be notified whenever a host schedules server maintenance. However, some hosting companies decide not to alert their clients due to hidden reasons. This can be harmful to your business if customers cannot access to your site.

Therefore, find a company that is willing and ready to satisfy your needs fully. For example, you may need a service late at night; unfortunately the host’s customer support doesn’t operate at those hours. So, it is imperative to choose what best suits your needs.

Again, ensure your host provides contact details, especially mobile phone contact. Remember, relying only on email contact is a slower method of communication, particularly when you need an emergency service.

3. Check the Availability and Quality of Host's Applications. You may not need using application for now, but you never know when to require them. Choosing a hosting company that provides high quality and reliable applications is advisable. For instance, if you are an affiliate marketer, definitely you need more traffic to your website. Strategies for driving more visitors to your website keep on changing almost on daily basis. So, you might need to use applications to attract more traffic to your site at one point in time. If a hosting company supports WordPress, it can add this to its site quite easily. To avoid paying extra, choose a host with additional features.

4. Ask All the Questions You Have. Before settling for a given web hosting company, ask as many questions as possible. You can make a list of questions to ask, and also make use of the internet to search for what other website owners are saying about different web hosting services.


Even though there are other guides online, our guide specifically targets newbies that are planning to take their businesses on the web. We are fully convinced that you will benefit from this guide. If you follow every bit of information presented here, hopefully you will have a good kick-start towards success, as far as web hosting service is concerned.

Written By DirHost.com