If you're a beginner, finding the right web site host can seem to be a terrifying task. It needn't be. The jargon of webmaster-speak might be what's scaring you off. Perhaps this page of the basics will help.
What is a web page?
A web page is a single "article" that is presented for viewing on a web surfer's computer when they've typed in, or linked to, the name of the page that a web site owner has created.
What is a web site?
A web site is a collection of web pages organized around a common theme, typically linked to each other in a logical fashion.
What is a web host?
A web host is the place where your web site and all of its web pages physically reside. It's what allows all those hundreds of millions of people sitting at their computer keyboards, to access your creation, without having to dial into YOUR computer (now that would be scary, wouldn't it?). Your web hosting provider has performed all the technical magic to connect their servers to the Internet, all you have to do is upload (transfer your pages, images, and data) from your computer to theirs. Once your pages are uploaded to your web host, they are available for any and all Internet users to see (assuming, of course, that the domain name you've chosen has been registered and activated).
A web host is like an apartment complex. It finds tenants (web sites), and gives them a place to live (servers). The tenants, however, come with their own portable address (domain name) that they might have used if they lived somewhere else in the past (if they transferred their domain from one host to another).
What is a domain name?
A domain name is a unique address used to locate a web site. A domain name is made up of words and/or numbers, plus a top level domain (TLD) identifier, such as .com, .net, .biz, etc. For this web site, the domain name is a1-cheap-web-site-hosting.com. Prior to being able to upload this domain for access, I had to register the domain name with a "registrar". Once a domain name is registered, no one else can copy the same name with the same TLD, so even though there may be many people with the same name "Dennis Becker", there will never be 2 web sites named a1.cheap-web-site-hosting.com.
What is a server?
A server in this context is a computer that stores web sites, data, and necessary software, and makes them accessible to the Internet.
What is a shared server?
A shared server is a server that stores multiple (perhaps hundreds) of different web sites, operated by different web site owners. Again, it is similar to an apartment house, many tenants, one owner/operator (the web host).
What is a dedicated server?
A dedicated server is a server that has only one tenant. A dedicated server can be one that you own and manage yourself, if you're so technically inclined, but more commonly, webmasters will lease a "managed dedicated server", and let the hosting company perform all the technical details, such as keeping the software up to date, backing up data files, making sure the connection to the Internet is operating properly, etc.
What do I need to know to be a "webmaster" and build my own site?
Once you've registered your domain name and selected your web site hosting provider, you need to know how to construct web pages. There are tools, free and otherwise, that will help you do this, this is beyond the scope of this site since we're dealing with web site hosts. You'll normally need to know a little about HTML (a language just a little more complicated than a word processor, but not necessarily all that much more complicated).
You'll need to know how to transfer your web pages, images, and data, to the server that your web host is managing for you. To do that you will use a FTP program. Information on FTP is contained elsewhere in this site.
That's actually about all there is to it, but of course if you build it, will they come? Not until they know about your site, and that's why you'll want to know how to get people to visit your site. That's a whole other topic, well beyond the scope of this site, but vitally important.
Once your site is established you'll think up new and exciting things to publish, in order to provide more value to visitors, and give them more reasons to come visit you, bookmark you, and come again. So too will this site grow. I've just mentioned a couple topics that we don't talk about ... yet ... but perhaps if you come back in a little while, we'll have added more pages that will cover those topics.
You see, that's the beauty of a web site, unlike a book. A web site can be changed, and evolve on a day by day basis. A book, once written and published, will not change. Web sites are constantly changing, so stay tuned, perhaps we'll be surprising you soon!
Copyright © Dennis Becker, 2004.
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