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web hosting, shared hosting, dedicated hosting

The shared hosting and dedicated hosting package explained. You want to launch your first web site but don't know anyhing about Web hosting... read on .

We have no axe to grind, we're not pushing any hosting package or trying to sell you a service, just offering free advice.

One of the first things you need to go global is a web hosting package, you'll have to sort out what type of hosting you need. Do you opt for free hosting or a paid web host? Can you manage with shared hosting or do you need dedicated hosting? Perhaps the price benefits of shared hosting with some of the characteristics of dedicated hosting is for you so look at a Virtual Private Server (VPS) package. Do you want a Linux web server or a Windows web server? There are so many choices and variations on a theme that trying to make your choice can be bewildering. This feature was written to help you in your decision making process by offering an unbiased and informed run down on the ins and outs of web hosting.



What is web hosting?

Whenever you visit a web site what you are actually seeing is web pages that are stored on a web server.  Each web server is assigned an IP address which, is a special number made up of four parts (called octets) that is used to identify a particular device on the internet. -- (four octets comprise one address.).  Every domain name that you type or click on is translated to an IP address, the internet sets up a link between your browser and the web server assigned that IP address. Your browser then request a particular web page from that web server and the web server then transmits the data that makes up the web page back to your browser. You can just type in the IP address into your browser address bar and the link will me made but who can remember all those numbers.

A web page is usually made up of text and graphic images.  Sometimes there are other elements designed to enhance the page in some way. Each web site is usually made up of many web pages, all of these pages need to be stored on a web server so that online users can access them through their web browser. 

A web server is just a computer on which web sites can be hosted.  The web server is connected to the internet through a high speed connection and by using special software it can serve web pages to user’s browsers as they are requested. 

If you are planning to put your own web site on the internet you will to have it hosted on a web server (or create your own web server to host you web site, but that is beyond the scope of these pages). Once you have signed up with a company that operates web serves and uploaded your web site to the web server it is available to be viewed on any computer in the world with an internet connection and a web browser. A company that provides the web servers to host your web site is called a web host provider.  They own and maintain web servers with the purpose of hosting web sites. You rent space from these companies and in return they will maintain and service the servers.

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There are different types of web servers with different features. The main types are: --

Shared Hosting, also knows as virtual hosting usually has many web sites sharing one web hosting server and one IP address.  The number of web sites is determined by the size of the disk storage and the amount of space each user is allowed.  The resources of the web hosting server (disk space, computer processing power, memory and bandwidth) are shared by many web sites.  This way a web hosting provider can afford to offer shared hosting at a lower price than dedicated hosting and other options.  Although your web site is located on a shared hosting server, your files are still secure and can not be interfered with by anyone else who also has their site on that web server. On the negative side - if there are any really popular web sites (or for that matter several web sites being accessed at the same time) you would have to accept reduced server response time.  Also, with shared hosting your web site shares its IP address with all the other web sites on the web server

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Virtual Private Server Hosting (VPS) is a variation on shared hosting, with some of the characteristics as shared hosting but giving the user more control over how your web site is hosted, A VPS web servers resources are still shared between the clients. What makes this variation different is that each partition on the server’s hard drives is given its own IP address and generally, there are a limited amount of users on each server, ensuring that you get a good share of the server's resources.


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Dedicated Hosting is where one server (or more) is used by only one customer who rents the web server for the duration of the hosting period. The customer may opt to host one or more web sites on their server(s) and may modify the disk space, computer processing power, memory and bandwidth to suit their needs. Dedicated hosting typically costs around 10 times more than shared hosting and is generally used by high traffic and important web sites.


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Co-location hosting.  Whereas with dedicated hosting, the customer rents the web server, with co-location hosting the customer actually owns the web server hardware and rents rack space with a secure data centre.  The web server is housed within the web hosting provider’s secure data centre. Therefore the customer has full control over their web server and also reaps the benefit of 24/7 server monitoring and maintenance provided by the data centre. Typically co-location hosting costs around 10 times more than dedicated hosting, depending on the monthly bandwidth and rack space required.


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Web Server Operating Systems

Having reached your decision on the type of web server you will need you will be faced with another choice. What operating system is best for you?

Operating systems are software that allow various functions of a web server run on, much like Windows or Mac OS used on the majority of home and office computers. Basically there are 2 choices, Linux or Windows


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Linux is a derivative of UNIX. Its use of hardware resources is efficient and it is a very stable operating platform that is extremely well suited to meet your web hosting needs. It handles the serving up of web sites and e-mailing, additionally, there are many free utility applications available on the Internet. Experienced webmasters and novices alike find that Linux is a robust and stable hosting platform.


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A Microsoft Windows server provides a suitable platform for serving up web sites, files, and streaming media, it was designed to integrate with other Microsoft applications such as Access, Cold Fusion, ASP, .Net, and Microsoft SQL and there is a large amount of commercial applications available. You should choose a web server running a Windows operating system if you are using specific applications that require Microsoft Windows to run.


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Web hosting, the shared hosting and dedicated hosting package explained