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If you are just getting started, this is the page you should bookmark (ctrl + D for PC, cmd + D for Mac) and read thoroughly. By the end of this lesson, you should have fundamental understanding on how web hosting and websites work behind the scene. So… is your coffee mug filled? Let’s rock and roll!

Quick Navigation: What’s in this guide

This guide consists of the following subjects –

  1. What is web hosting
  2. Types of web hosting
  3. What is domain name
  4. Web hosting vs domain name
  5. How to register a domain name
  6. TLD, TLDcc, and sub domain
  7. Domain privacy, bandwidth, and file transfer protocol
  8. Choosing a web host

Chapter #1: What is web hosting?

Web hosting is a place where people store their websites. Think of it as a house where you store all your stuffs; but instead of storing your clothes and furnitures, you store computer files (HTML, documents, images, videos, etc) in a web host. More often than not, the term “web hosting” refers to the company that rent out their computer/servers to store your website (hence the word, host) and providing Internet connectivity so that other computers can access to the files on your website.

Web Hosting And Data Center: Aren’t They The Same?

Normally when we talk about web hosting, the term “web hosting” refers to the server that host your website or the hosting company that rent that server space to you; when we talk about data center, we mean the facility that is used to house the servers. A data center could be a room, a house, or a very large building equipped with redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls (e.g., air conditioning, fire suppression) and security devices.

This is a server. The name of this model: DELL 463-6080 Server. It looks and works like the desktop at your home – just slightly bigger and more powerful.
This is how a data center look like from inside, basically it’s just a cold room filled with lots of big computers. I took this photo during my visit to Interserver data center August 2016.

In the following video, Joe Kava, VP of Google’s Data Center Operations, gives a tour inside a Google data center, and shares details about the security, sustainability and the core architecture of Google’s infrastructure.

Chapter #2: Different Types of Web Hosting Explained

Generally, there are four different types of web hosting: Shared, Virtual Private Server (VPS), Dedicated, and Cloud Hosting.

While all types of hosting servers will act as a storage centre for your website, they differ in the amount of storage capacity, control, technical knowledge requirement, server speed, and reliability. Let’s dig in and look at the main differences between a shared, VPS, dedicated, and cloud hosting.

Shared Hosting

What Is Shared Hosting? What is a shared hosting?

In shared hosting, one’s web site is placed on the same server as many other sites, ranging from a few to hundreds or thousands. Typically, all domains may share a common pool of server resources, such as RAM and the CPU. As cost is extremely low, most websites with moderate traffic levels running standard software are hosted on this type of server. Shared hosting is also widely accepted as the entry level hosting option as it requires minimum technical knowledge.

Disadvantages No root access, limited ability to handle high traffic levels or spikes, site performance can be affected by other sites on the same server.

Shared hosting providers: iPage, eHost, TMD Hosting, and A2 Hosting.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

What Is VPS Hosting What is VPS hosting?

A virtual private server hosting divides a server into virtual servers, where each websites is like hosted on their own dedicated server, but they’re actually sharing a server with a few different other users. The users may have root access to their own virtual space and better secured hosting environment with this type of hosting. Websites that need greater control at the server level, but don’t want to invest in a dedicated server.

Disadvantages Limited ability to handle high traffic levels or spikes, your site performance can still be somewhat affected by other sites on the server.

VPS hosting providers: InMotion Hosting, Interserver, Netmoly, and A Small Orange.

Dedicated Server Hosting

What Is Dedicated Hosting? What is dedicated hosting?

A dedicated server offers the maximum control over the web server your website is stored on – You exclusively rent an entire server. Your website(s) is the only website stored on the server.

Disadvantages With great power comes… well, greater cost. Dedicated servers are very expensive and it’s only recommended to those who need the maximum control and better server performance.

Dedicated hosting providers: InMotion Hosting, TMD Hosting, A2 Hosting, and Interserver.

Cloud Hosting

What Is Cloud Hosting? What is cloud hosting?

Cloud hosting offers unlimited ability to handle high traffic or traffic spikes. Here’s how it works: A team of servers (called a cloud) work together to host a group of websites. This allows multiple computers to work together to handle high traffic levels or spikes for any particular website.

Disadvantages Many cloud hosting setup do not offers root access (required to change server settings and install some software), higher cost.

Cloud hosting providers: WP Engine, Pressidium, and Hostgator.

Chapter #3: What is a domain name?

Domain boom infographic A domain is the name of your website. Before you can run a website, you will need a domain.

It is not something physical that you can touch or see; it is merely a string of characters that give your website an identity (yes, a name, like human and businesses). Now, here are some quick examples: Google.com is a domain name; so are Alexa.com, Linux.org, eLearningEuropa.info, as well as Yahoo.co.uk. To have your own domain, you will need to register your domain with a domain registrar.

Where can I register a domain?

Here is a list of domain registrars where you can register a domain name.

Chapter #4: Web Hosting vs Domain

The difference between web hosting and domain name

It is very common for newbies to get confused between a domain name with a web hosting.

However, it is important to be crystal clear on the differences between the two before you move on to your first website. To simplify: A domain name, is like the address of your home; web hosting on the other hand, is the space of your house where you place your furniture. Instead of street name and area code, set of words or/and numbers are used for the website’s naming’. The same goes with hosting, computer hard disk and computer memory are used instead of instead of wood and steel for storing and processing data files.

The idea is presented clearer with the diagram below.

Domain vs Web Hosting - how does it work
Compare domain name with web hosting.

Chapter #5: How to register a domain name

Registering A Domain Name – How It Works?

  1. Think of a good name you want for your website.
  2. A domain name needs to be unique. Prepare a few variations – just in case the name is taken by others.
  3. Make a search on one of the registrars’ website (ie. GoDaddy).
  4. If your selected domain name is not taken, you can order it instantly.
  5. Pay a registration fees, range $10 – $35 depends on the TLD (usually using PayPal or credit card).
  6. You are now done with the registration process.
  7. Next you will need to point the domain name to your web hosting (by changing its DNS record).
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