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All About Web Site Hosting

So the time has come to finally get on the World Wide Web with a Web site of your own. Once the Web site and pages have been created, however, the question of where to put it still remains. From those looking to create a personal Web site to those looking to give their business or company a presence on the Web, there is a wide range of Web site hosting options available to you. The options that are more expensive may not always be the best choice — it all comes down to your budget and the type of presence you are looking to have on the World Wide Web.

Using Your ISP for Web Space

When you subscribe to Internet connection services through an ISP (Internet Service Provider) you will usually be allotted a certain amount of space to host Web pages with your paid subscription.  For those looking to publish a family-oriented or topic-specific Web page, this is a good choice as you will not pay extra for the hosting, provided you don't go over the space and traffic limitations set by your ISP.  Unlike using free sites to host a Web page there will be no third-party advertisements running on your Web pages, unless of course, you choose to run advertisements on the pages yourself.

The amount of space you have using your ISP will vary from one service provider to another. Generally, you can expect to have up anywhere from 2MB up to 5MB of space available for your Web pages. As value-added services, your ISP may also provide you with code that you can freely use on your Web page such as code to implement a hit counter or guestbook. It is important to check with your ISP beforehand to find out what services are provided with your Internet account.

Finding Free Web Space Online

Finding free Web space on the Internet can be managed with a simple Web search. There are a plethora of services available to individuals and businesses looking for a place to park a Web site and not have to pay for the service. These online offers, depending on which one you choose, will provide you with anywhere from 5MB to 100MB of space for hosting your Web site. Some free site companies will offer value-added services, such as tracking logs, counters, guestbooks, virtual domain names, copy & paste scripts and more. Generally these added services are ideal for people who are unfamiliar with Web site building and feature implementation.

While this type of service may sound even better than using your ISP for hosting a small Web site, you should always do your research first. Visitors to your Web page might end up being spammed with oodles of pop-up and banner advertisements, and you will have no control over the advertising content that may be a direct conflict with your Web page, especially if it is a site designed for children and younger readers. These companies are able to offer Web space to people for free because they rely on advertising dollars brought in by you showing their ads on your Web page. Be sure to read the user agreement before signing up for a free Web hosting account so you know what to expect in terms of advertising.

Key Terms
To Understanding
Web site Hosting

Web site [a Webopedia definition]
A site (location) on the World Wide Web. Each Web site contains a home page, which is the first document users see when they enter the site. The site might also contain additional documents and files. Each site is owned and managed by an individual, company or organization.

Web page [a Webopedia definition]
A document on the World Wide Web. Every Web page is identified by a unique URL (Uniform Resource Locator).

Web server [a Webopedia definition]
A computer that delivers (serves up) Web pages. Every Web server has an IP address and possibly a domain name. For example, if you enter the URL http://www.webopedia.com/index.html in your browser, this sends a request to the server whose domain name is pcwebopedia.com. The server then fetches the page named index.html and sends it to your browser. Any computer can be turned into a Web server by installing server software and connecting the machine to the Internet. There are many Web server software applications, including public domain software from NCSA and Apache, and commercial packages from Microsoft, Netscape and others.

Web host [a Webopedia definition]
A Web host is in the business of providing server space, Web services and file maintenance for Web sites controlled by individuals or companies that do not have their own Web servers. Many ISPs, such as America Online, will allow subscribers a small amount of server space to host a personal Web page. Other commercial ISPs will charge the user a fee depending on the complexity of the site being hosted.

More Related Terms From Webopedia

World Wide Web
ISP
Internet
Webmaster
home page
site map

Cheap Web Space Online

If the idea of running advertisements on your Web site is unappealing, you can find services similar to free hosting but for which you pay a small fee to have the Web page run advertisement-free. In fact, many of the sites offering free hosting also offer upgraded accounts where you can pay anywhere from $5 to $20 a month to have the advertisements stripped from your site. By upgrading to a paid account you will most likely have access to additional Web site building features and services not offered with the free accounts.

There is a lot of competition for your Web site hosting dollars, and when looking for Web space you can find some pretty good deals online. F2G is just one example of a Web site hosting provider that offers some excellent options and lots of space for $6.95/month — if paid annually. With this type of premium (but cheap) Web site hostin,g you can also pay a little extra to have a domain name registered and the site available to readers under the domain name.

What Is A Domain Name

A domain name is a name that identifies one or more IP addresses. For example, the domain name microsoft.com represents about a dozen IP addresses. Domain names are used in URLs to identify particular Web pages. For example, in the URL http://www.webopedia.com/index.html, the domain name is cwebopedia.com.

The only way to register and start using a domain name is to use the services of a domain name registrar. The domain name industry is regulated and overseen by ICANN, the organization that is responsible for certifying companies as domain name registrars. At one time there was only one domain name registrar — Network Solutions Inc. — but today there are dozens of accredited registrars. Only a domain name registrar is permitted to access and modify the master database of domain names maintained by InterNIC. If you come across a registrar that is not on the list, it is most likely that the organization is acting as a reseller for one of the accredited registrars as only an accredited registrar has the capability to modify the database of domain names. The registrar you choose will determine the cost for registering a domain name, but in general expect to pay a yearly fee.

Do You Really Need a Domain Name?

There is no doubt that by registering and using a domain name your costs associated with having a Web site will increase. Many individuals will use domain names to help create an identity on the Web, but for most business and corporate users, the use of a domain name is for branding purposes. Usually, you will try to find a domain name that is related to your company name, your industry, or a mixture of both if finding an available domain name becomes too difficult.  Companies will often use their Web site as a way to communicate and provide information to clients, and also market their Web site as a part of their business by including the URL to their Web site on business cards and advertisements.

Once you have decided on a domain name, and found it to be available, you can then start the process of registering that domain name. This is a task you can do, or many ISPs will offer a complete hosting package that will include the registering of the domain name for you, however you need to ensure the ISP will register the domain name in your own name. In many instances you will pay a one time set-up for the services associated with the name being registered and the technical work, then pay your service provider a monthly or yearly fee for the Web site hosting services. It is important to remember that once you have registered a domain name, so long as you continue to pay for the domain name registration you can switch hosts — the new host will take care of the technical details to ensure your Web address continues to work when you switch hosts.

Regardless of which Web site hosting option you choose to go with, there are many companies out there offering services to help you create a Web presence. The bonus of business on the Internet also means you can look for Web site hosts outside of your geographical region to help you get a plan that is right for you — at a price you're willing to pay!

Did You Know...
On February 23, 2004 there were 34,665,404 active.com domain names registered. 
When you include .net, .info, .org, .biz, and .us, the total number of active registered domains is 48,927,948.  [Source: Whois Source Internet Statistics]




Based in Nova Scotia, Vangie Beal is has been writing about technology for more than a decade. She is a frequent contributor to EcommerceGuide and managing editor at Webopedia. You can tweet her online @AuroraGG.





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