What is web hosting?

Web hosting is the process of putting your web site on a web server or web host, so everyone connected to the Internet can see it. If you have a permanent connection to the Internet you could host your web site on your own computer, but that is in general not a good idea. A good web host is a real server in a datacenter with a fast high bandwidth connection to the Internet. And, to make sure you can move your web site to another web host, if necessary, you need a web hosting provider that supports domain hosting.

What are "free web hosting providers"?

These are online web hosting companies who offer to host your website on their web server at no cost to you (you pay no money). The free webpage hosting servers usually have several drawbacks over paid hosting servers (see next question), but they are especially great for beginner webmasters (newbies) to learn, for those who can't afford paid web hosting, for developing and testing PHP scripts in different webhosting server settings, or possibly even for "doorway pages" to your other web sites (always check the free web space provider's Terms of Service [TOS] first).

What are the best free website providers?

That depends a lot on the webhosting needs of your free web site (do you need CGI, PHP, ASP, SSI, unlimited bandwidth, domain hosting, FrontPage server extensions, large file sizes, FTP upload, ecommerce with SSL, free cpanel hosting, etc.). If you serious about having a website, buying your own domain name is recommended. Look for a free web hosting service which has been in business a long time, and is making profit. See our web page listing free web hosting ratings (based on user reviews and voting), and our list of best free web hosts.

What is domain hosting?

Most Internet Service Providers (or ISP) will give you a free web site when they provide you with access to the Internet. They do this because they don't want to give you a permanent IP address, which is what you need if you'd like to host a web site on your own computer. Unfortunately, most ISPs don't support domain hosting with their free web sites. Hence, the URL of your web site is an extension of the URL of your ISP. So what happens when you change ISP? You will have to change the URL and nobody can find you anymore. The use of a domain name for your web site is absolutely necessary for a professional web site, and to host your own domain you will need to find a real web hosting provider with domain hosting. Many web hosting plans actually include the price of a domain registration, so don't register your domain before you have chosen your web hosting company.

What is a good web host

A good web host is one that offers reliable hosting with superior support and whatever other features you need for your particular situation. And, of course, most of us webmasters want this also at the lowest price possible. The only obvious first distinction between the good and the not so good web hosting plans is the bandwidth they allow you to use. The more bandwidth, the more visitors your web site can have. Any web hosting plans with less than 5Gbit of bandwidth allowance per month (or with unlimited bandwidth) are simply not worthy of your considerations. Most hosting providers now a days offer very similar web hosting packages at very different prices. And while some of the very cheap web hosting providers, under about US$5, have to cut corners to provide you web hosting at that price - which will reduce their service and reliability - many of the more expensive web hosting companies don't necessarily provide better support or service. Believe me, I have seen some bad ones.

What is a web server?

A web server is either a special computer or server for reliable hosting of web sites, or the software application that runs on that server. The two main web server applications used by most web hosting providers are Microsoft's Internet Information Services (IIS) for windows hosting and Apache for Unix hosting. Both use the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to transfer web pages to your web browser.

What is a dynamic web page?

A dynamic web page is a web page that uses some scripting language, such as PHP or ASP, to allow the web server to adapt the content of the web page to a particular situation. Dynamic web pages can also be used to upload information from the browser to store it on the web server. Examples of web based applications that use dynamic web pages are guest books, chat rooms, web logs, and forums. The information content that is displayed on the web page in your browser, will normally not be stored in the file containing that web page on the web server, but in a separate database. When the page is requested from the server, the web server will retrieve such a dynamic web page, process it to retrieve the relevant information from the database, and then puts that information in the HTML of the web page. With dynamic web pages, the same information can be displayed on many different web pages, but only needs to be managed in one place: in the database. At the same time, we can create another web page to manage the information in the database (change it, update it, etc), as well as upload new information to enable users to create new web pages on the fly.

What is a static web page?

A static web page is a normal web page that is written in HTML and therefore needs no pre-processing on the web server. They are called static web pages to differentiate them from dynamic web pages. Static web pages can still contain Javascript, Flash, Shockwave, Java, and other non-html code to be executed in the web browser or in web browser plug-ins.

What is Web Mail?

Web mail is a web based interface to your own email directories on your web server. If you use domain hosting, your web hosting provider will also offer to support a number of email accounts based on your domain name. You can download the email in those accounts to your own computer, using Outlook Express or a similar email client, or, if your web hosting company offers web mail, you can access your email with web mail as you would access a hotmail account from any computer you happen to have access to.

what is FTP or File Transfer Protocol?

FTP or File Transfer Protocol is a way of transferring files between computers. Most web hosting companies also implement an FTP server on their web servers to enable you to upload your web pages and image files to the web server. You will need an FTP client, such as the WsFTP program, on your computer to connect to the FTP server, or you can use a web authoring environment that has an inbuild FTP client to "publish" your web pages. Many web hosts also support an alternative called frontpage extensions, which allows you to use Microsoft's Frontpage web development program to create and publish web pages.

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