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Web Hosting - A Beginners Guide - Part One
by Startacus Admin
As with most internet technical terms ‘Web Hosting’ sounds much more complicated and frightening than it actually is.
As we have discussed before, there aren’t many businesses that couldn't benefit from having their own website, but sometimes the technical jargon and seemingly complex notions can be offputting to the majority of self starters who feel out of their depth amidst such intimidating talk.
To help disperse this fog of confusion and suspicion we have put together a quick, easy to swallow, jargon-free explanation of web hosting which will (hopefully) leave you armed and ready to take charge of your website’s web hosting.
First things first - What is Web Hosting?
Think about the last file you created on your computer - let’s say for sake of argument that it was a word document. That word document needs to be saved somewhere so that you can access it at a later time, so your computer stores it on a hard disk.
Your website is no different than this word document - once it is created, it isn't simply suspended in the infinity of space but instead needs to be stored somewhere so that it can be accessed by people on the internet.
Because most PCs and laptops are nowhere near powerful enough to facilitate a large number of people trying to access the pages of your website at the same time, people do not normally store the files of their website on their own computer, but on a specially designed, high power computer known as a web server. The facilitation of this process of storing your website and allowing it to be accessed by folks on the internet is called web hosting.
Web hosting companies provide this service to a wide range of websites by maintaining powerful computers with incredibly strong internet connections on which they rent out different amounts of ‘space’ depending upon how much is needed for a particular website.
Web hosting companies will often refer to their product as “web space” because what they are essentially selling is space on the internet.
How much web space do you need?
Just as our word document from the initial example uses up space on your hard drive, hosting and facilitating the viewing of your website uses space on the web server. The amount of money that you will have to pay for the hosting of your website is usually dependent upon the amount of space that is used in carrying out these functions.
The amount of space that is used by your website depends on the number of pages, the type of content they contain and the number of people gaining access to them.
In the same way that a mobile phone operator offers contracts which you can subscribe to in accordance with your usage, hosting companies also operate under this model, allowing you to pick a hosting package which is best suited to the needs of your website. These packages are normally distinguished by the amount of space you are allowed to use - beginning at around 100 megabytes and going all the way up to several thousands of megabytes.
What is Bandwidth?
This is another one of those terms that is much heard and rarely understood - but like web hosting, it is actually a pretty straightforward concept.
To put it plainly, bandwidth refers to the level of internet traffic and data which is allowed to travel and transfer between your website and the internet. Bandwidth allowances are normally allotted on a month to month basis (again much like a mobile phone contract) and are measured as the product of a number of factors including; the space used by the pages of your website, how many times they are viewed and people's interactions with them.
For example - let’s assume that the page you are looking at now on Startacus.net takes up around 15 Kilobytes of space, that means every time it is viewed we have used 15 Kilobytes of our bandwidth for this month, if it is viewed 100 times we have used 150 Kilobytes, 1000 times 1500 Kilobytes, and so forth.
Most websites needn’t concern themselves with their bandwidth since in the majority of cases, the bandwidth provided by a basic web hosting service will be more than sufficient to support the level of traffic which your website will experience. It is only if you begin to see a significant increase in your level of traffic that you might like to consider increasing your monthly allowance to facilitate this extra demand.
Next time we will be taking a closer look at web hosting including the different kinds of hosting packages which are available, and how to select the one that is right for your website!
If you are a tech startup in need of a hosting service then the Rackspace Startup Program could be great for you. The program offers selected startups a whole host of benefits including 12 months free Rackspace Cloud Hosting and Services. Further details on the Rackspace Startup Program can be found here.