Web Hosting Basics
If you are looking to host your own website, then this page will give you all the information you need to know.
Every website is a collection of web pages. For example, currently you are reading a web page on the WH4Beginners website. Every website has a name with which to identify it just as every person has a name. The name (or the address) of the website is called the URL (Universal Resource Locator) or the "domain name". The following are examples of URLs, or domain names of websites.
These are the addresses that you type in your browser address bar to fetch the website's webpages. There are companies that can reserve a domain name for you and these companies are called domain name registrars. Each domain name ends with a type (.com, .net, .org, .info, .in, .us, .co.uk etc). The type usually signifies some kind of information. For example .com has become very general purpose now but initially it used to signify "commercial" or "company" and .org used to signify "organization". Similarly the domain could indicate a geographical area, like domains ending in .us signify US website or co.uk refers to UK.
The web pages for your website must be stored on a computer just like you store image or audio files on your computer. However in order for a collection of web pages (a website, in other words) to be accessible to someone on the internet:
1. A web server (a software that serves web pages when responding to requests) must be installed on your computer
2. All your web pages must be in a special folder accessible to the web server software and
3. Your computer must be connected to the internet (and have its own unique IP, but we will not bother about those for now).
However since it is a cumbersome process to install your own web server and keep your computer connected to the internet throughout the day every day, many companies offer to store your web pages on their computers (also known as 'servers') and in turn keep their computers/server connected to the internet throughout the day, everyday. They do this for a small fee, of course. These companies are called web hosts or web hosting companies (since they 'host' your web pages for you).
These web hosts realise that there are different types of people with different types of needs. For example, you might have a simple web site in mind where you might want to share your poems or a blog where you share your baby's pictures with all your friends. Or you might be a business with a huge website (a web site with a lot of content) and that is very frequently visited by your huge pool of clients. Depending upon what you are, you would need different features. So in order to cater to different types of customers, the web hosts offer different types of web hosting (each with its own set of features) and accordingly charge a fee ranging from a couple of dollars to a few hundreds of dollars every month. But of course, the majority of websites on the internet are small websites that need only nominal features and for these type of websites, a type of hosting called the shared hosting is the best. It offers hosting for less than ten dollars a month and that price reduces when you pay up-front for a year or more. So that's it. You now know what web hosting is all about.
Check out How to Host a Website next.