The Complete Web Hosting Starter Guide - Part 1

By

Cosmo

|

Aug 20 - 2014

StarterGuide:

Introduction to web hosting - part 1

In this introductory series to web hosting, we will walk you through the basics of choosing a suitable web host for your website. We will begin with how the Internet infrastructure works behind the scenes when you type www.hostbot.co in your web browser and arrive at this website.


We will also explore the various terms associated with web hosting in general including some fairly advanced concepts suitable for even for beginners.  So grab your favourite blend of coffee and let’s begin!


Internet

The Internet can be thought of as a giant global network of computers and the computer you are using to access this website is but another machine within this vast network.


For example, to arrive at any of Yahoo!'s websites, your computer would be required to connect with Yahoo!'s servers that contain the files that make up Yahoo's websites.


To see why you would need to establish this connection, consider how you would access files in your computer. They are easily available anytime with a click of your mouse.


Anytime you visit a website, you are actually making a request for the files that make up that site from the computers where those files are stored to be served to you. That is why computers requesting files or information are called clients.


The computer in which the files of a website are stored and to which the request is made is called the web server because its function is to serve the requested page to a client.


But how do the hundreds of millions of computers on the Internet connect and communicate with one another seamlessly and without interruption?


The answer lies in a set of communications protocols known as the Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol or commonly abbreviated to just TCP/IP. Every machine on the Internet is assigned a unique identifier known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address which is like the street address of your house. An IP address consists of numbers are expressed in the form of a dotted decimals that looks like this: 133.221.172.194.


HostBot what is an IP address

An Internet Protocol address is made up of decimal numbers that represent a computer on the Internet.


Therefore you can see that for a computer to connect with another machine on the Internet in order to retrieve the pages of a website, the client must know the IP address of that particular website. It is like a house address on the Internet and without knowing this, your computer will not be able to locate the desired website.


The problem is that there are hundreds of millions of IP addresses in use at any one time and more are added or changed each day. How then are we able to keep track and remember the IP addresses of our favorite websites? The solution is through the use of domain names.


What are domain names

Imagine having to remember a string of 8-digit IP addresses for every website that you visit often. It would be a hair-tearing experience. Include one incorrect digit and you will no longer be able to access your intended website.


Back in the day when there less users on the Internet (called ARPANET then), a text file with all the known IP addresses could be maintained. However such an approach was becoming increasinlgy impracticle which led some clever guys at the University of California to come up with the Domain Name System and the use of domain name servers.


That's why there are special servers on the Internet called domain name servers (DNS or commonly, a name server) that translate machine-readable IP addresses (like 188.188.188.188) of each website into a permanent human-readable domain name (for example www.hostbot.co) and vice versa. We cover more of this interesting subject in our article onDomain Name Servers.


The domain "www.hostbot.co" is actually made up of three parts; the host name (WWW), domain name (hostbot) and a top-level domain (.co), collectively referred to as a Uniform Resource Locator (or URL).


HostBot what is a domain name

A uniform resource locator or URL is usually comprised of three parts including the domain name.


The URL is the complete address of a webite on the Internet and is commonly what you type into your browser to go to a website. Now you will only need to remember the URL of a website instead of its IP address.


When you type a URL into your browser, the browser communicates with a name server that translates www.hostbot.co into its corresponding IP address. The name server then uses the IP address to connect to the name server storing HostBot's files to request for the specified web page to be served to you.


If that page cannot be found, the server will return a negative reply that will be interpreted by your browser as an error message. If the page is found, the server will send a positive reply to your browser and receives the web page in code (HTML, CSS and Javascript) to be formatted by your browser.


Web Hosting

Unlike files stored in your computer, web pages are intended to be viewed by the public and must therefore also be publicly accessible. Although it's not technically impossible to connect your personal computer to the Internet and have it function as a web server, any benefits derived from doing so will surely be outweighed by the exorbitant costs involved in personally serving the requests of each visitor to your website.


Companies that provide web servers for you to store the files of your website which are then accessible to the public are known as web hosting providers or web hosts for short. They offer a myriad of web hosting solutions that can cater to the needs of a simple blog to the most demanding high-traffic websites.


In addition to providing a markedly more powerful machine and connection with which to host your website, web hosts typically also provide other value-added services include email accounts.


In the followingarticles, which you can find in the links below, we will explore the different kinds of web hosting solutions provided by web hosting companies from simple shared hosting plans to powerful dedicated server solutions.



In a

nutshell

1.

The Internet is composed of computers and servers linked together seamlessly in a giant global network.

2.

Each machine and website connected to the Internet has its own unique identifier known as its IP address which is expressed in a series of numbers.

3.

Domain name servers translate IP addresses of websites into domain names like yahoo.com so that it can be easily remembered.

4.

The whole address of a website as translated by a name server is known as its uniform resource locator or URL.

5.

When you want to go to a website, you type its URL into your browser which requests for the files that make up that website from the servers holding those files to be served to you.

6.

The computer(s) storing those files and sending them to your browser is known as a web server.

7.

When you want to create your own website for the public to view, you would normally need to host your files on a web server so that others can access them.

8.

The companies that provide this web hosting service are known as web hosting providers or web hosts. There are may different types of web hosting solutions available on the market depending on the needs of a particular website.



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