Most internet users take the technology for granted. Especially in a day and age when many children grow up with cell phones, profiles on Facebook, and constant access to the web, it’s hard to explain a time when we relied on post offices, ate at home and not out of paper bags, and telephones were (gasp!) connected to the wall by a cord. So yes, the internet is ubiquitous, but when the average user gets online and visits a webpage, he just expects it to pop up, no questions asked; he has no idea about the complicated transaction that just occurred, or how that webpage happened to be there in the first place. For the business owner or manager, though, that type of blissful ignorance just doesn’t cut it. Online website design is an important part of today’s businesses, simply because customers expect to be able to find anything and everything online.
If you’re in the middle of the process of getting your company website up and running, you probably have figured a little bit about online website design. However, you might be completely in the dark about how you’ll go about getting your site online. Luckily for you, there’s no need to take a college course in hosting a website, you merely need to get a general sense of the practice and choose which type of web hosting your company’s website will best be served by.
Here’s a very simplistic description of how web hosting works:
A server is an extremely powerful computer with a massive hard drive, or multiple hard drives. People or entities looking to create an online website “rent” space on that hard drive. Each server has a distinctive Internet Protocol (IP) address, and renters “live” under that address. One web hosting expert made an analogy to an apartment building; the server is the physical building, and has a street number as an address, and each site within that server is an apartment, which has an apartment number contained within that street address. When you make your foray into website design and hosting, your site will be “hosted” by this server.
There are many different types of web hosting, and they vary in price depending on the services each offers. Here are three of the most commonly utilised types of hosting:
Free web hosting: As the name suggests, this type of hosting is completely free, which may be nice for a personal use such as a family blog, but is not appropriate for a more complicated use such as an ecommerce site.
Shared hosting: In this hosting model, many sites share the same server. This is convenient for the hosting company, since it can provide low-cost hosting with low overhead.
Dedicated hosting: Dedicated hosting is suitable for larger websites that have more needs, such as unlimited databases and email. There are two types of dedicated hosting, managed and unmanaged. In managed hosting, the hosting company controls the server, whereas unmanaged hosting allows the user maximum control over the server. Unmanaged hosting is much more time-consuming and complicated for the user company.