Web hosting is a service that allows anyone to place a website or web page on the internet. Websites are stored on high powered computers called servers, mostly in data centres. The service of providing the technologies and services needed for the website to be viewed in the Internet is provided by a web hosting company.
Most web hosting companies require that you own a domain name in order to host with them. However if you do not have a domain name, the web hosting companies will help you purchase one.
The simple act of viewing a website is just to input the web address into the browser on a computer or any device connected to the internet. With this address, the browser requests for the web page to be served through a network of servers. Ultimately, the web page that is served originates from the very server that is maintained by the web hosting company.
The basic features of a web hosting plan include the amount of disk space, monthly bandwidth, email accounts and file transfer accounts.
All web hosting accounts provide an amount of disk space on the servers for you to store files that make up your website. Before signing up with any web hosting company for a plan, do some homework to get an estimate of the amount of disk space that you’ll need. You will have to estimate for the size of the website which you are planning to build, the amount of emails that you are expecting to handle and also the amount of files that you intend store online. Of course, all these are collectively estimated in disk space terms.
Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred at one time. Think of it as a highway with a certain number of lanes. Data transfer is the actual amount of data transferred.
The less bandwidth you have, the slower it would take for your website to load, regardless of your visitor’s connection speed. The less data transfer you have, the more likely it would result in your website not being served to the visitor.
To know what is sufficient, you need to estimate the size of your website and the number of visitors you have in a month’s time. If in doubt, you can always seek the advice of your web hosting company.
Email accounts are a common feature of web hosting. There are three main types of email accounts: POP3, forwarding, and aliases.
POP3 accounts are the traditional inboxes. You have space on the server to store your emails, and at the same time, you can use an email client to read or send your mail.
Forwarding mail accounts are useful if you are using the service of another company to filter your emails for you. Rather than keeping your emails on your mail server, emails are redirected to another email address instead.
Aliases accounts are similar to forwarding mail accounts. Some hosts allow you to setup a generic alias to collect emails sent to addresses not recognized by your mail server. This is most often called a catch-all alias.
File Transfer Protocol Accounts
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard internet protocol for transmitting files between computers on the internet. Web hosting plans include this as a basic offering, allowing you to use an FTP client to transfer files onto your server. There are a few good FTP clients out there for most tasks even at the complex level. Most web hosting companies restrict the number of FTP accounts that you can create possibly due to security or high maintenance effort.