If you're just starting out in web design, you've probably heard of web hosting but might not yet have a firm grasp on what it actually is. This is a quick little article to lay down the basics of web hosting so you can wonder no more!
A Web Host is A Company
A web host is a company that operates "web servers", or rather computers that are connected to the internet for the purpose of providing services across it. Just as a "server" at a part serves up hors'd'oeuvres, a web server serves up web pages. That's one of the main jobs of a web server, although they also manage e-mail, data transfer and several other activities.
A web hosting company makes their money by renting out their computers to people who want to have public web sites.
Why Can't I Be My Own Web Host?
You can be your own web host! But, there are some things you should consider before giving it a go. For one, if you are hosting a web site on your home computer, you need a permanent internet connection like DSL or Cable Internet Access. Once you have that, you need a permanent IP address to anchor your web site firmly in the web. You also need to know or learn how to install and configure web server software like Apache or IIS.
Even when you have all the pieces in place, there is a lot that can go wrong when you're using a home computer as your web hosting server. Since you probably use the computer for more than just web hosting, you tie up the resources on your computer, causing the web pages you serve to work more slowly.
Also, as a single-person team, you have a lot of security issues to keep on top of. Security vulnerabilities crop up all the time in unexpected places, and if you're not keeping track and patching things up, you're likely to eventually become a hacker's victim.
The Advantages To Using a Web Hosting Company
There are typically several tiers of operation for a web hosting company which all work together to provide quality web hosting space.
Tier 1: The Web Hosting Facility
Typically, a web hosting company stores their computers at a web hosting facility, which is typically a building constructed for the purpose of keeping web servers secure form physical and virtual disasters, as well as supplying a high-speed internet connection.
There are usually numerous security measures in place, including entrances monitored by security personnel, keycard-like validation for entry, fire protection systems and backup generators.
Tier 2: The Hosting Company
A web hosting company may consist of a few to several hundred personnel. There are typically personal dedicated to keeping server software up to date and secure, personal who are focused on consumer relations, and others who deal with marketing.
Tier 3: Web Hosting Resellers
Often times, web hosting companies offer reseller programs by which someone can rent a chunk of space on their web servers, and resell the space to their own clients. The web hosting company managers the server and the server software, while the reseller deals with customer support.
When you consider the number of people involved in the web hosting process, added to the fact that you can get a hosting account for under 10 dollars a month, it's a near no-brainer.