WHAT IS WEB HOSTING?
Think about the files and folders on your computer. They are stored on the hard disk of your desktop or laptop computer, ready for you to access them whenever you like. A web page is a file, just like your word processing documents. Just as your word processing documents require your computer to store them, all web pages require a computer to store them.
The difference is that web pages are generally intended to be seen by the general public. To enable this, the computer on which they must be stored must be of a much higher specification than your desktop PC, and must be connected to the Internet through a very powerful link.
A computer on which web pages are stored is called a web server (because it serves pages, on request, to users on the Internet). Collectively a bunch of web pages is a web site, and collectively all the web pages in the world form the World Wide Web (WWW).
The job of making web sites and web pages available to many users is called web hosting. We sometimes like to call the product we offer web space, because we are selling “space” on the Internet for you to host your web site. Web space is measured in megabytes, in exactly the same way as the space on your own computer is measured.
WHY DO I NEED WEB HOSTING?
It is technically possible to connect your own PC or Mac to the Internet and have it serve pages. But it is not practical since usually a home-based Internet connection is not powerful enough to serve many users at the same time.
For this reason, web hosting companies exist. They own and maintain very powerful web servers which store your web pages. They connect these web servers to the Internet by very powerful connections, enabling many web users to access your web pages at the same time.
If you want to run a web site you need web hosting because unless you’ve got unlimited funds you would not be able to afford the web servers and connections necessary.
WHAT ELSE DO WEB HOSTING COMPANIES DO?
As well as providing web space web hosting companies provide other “value-added” services. The extent of these varies from company to company but there are some key services provided by nearly all. These are the registration of domain names (see below) and provision of email. They may also provide technical support either through their web sites or by email or telephone.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT KINDS OF WEB HOSTING?
Yes, of course! There are many different varieties of web hosting, designed to meet different needs. A two-page web site set up by an individual will need far less robust web hosting package than a multinational high-traffic site set up by a big company. There are a few key differentiating factors between the packages web hosting companies provide.
Amount of web space
This means how much web space the web hosting company will allow you to use for your web site. This can vary but usually starts at around the 100 megabytes mark, and can go all the way up to 1000 or 2000 megabytes. For all but the biggest web sites, 100MB is more than adequate. Some web hosting companies offer much more space – they are able to do this because they know that the average web site comes in at less than 100 megabytes.
Number of email addresses
This means how many email addresses the hosting company will permit you to have. For budget accounts, this is usually somewhere between 1 and 10 email addresses. Some higher-end packages permit say 250 addresses. Here at UKcentric we like to go one further whenever possible of course, most of our web hosting packages come with up to 100 email addresses.