Elements of Web
When you first start out trying to get a
site on the Internet everything seems so confusing.
Obtuse acronyms flow freely through the 'Beginner
Friendly' information sites and definitions can be hard
to come across.
The main reason for this is that the
Internet and the process of getting a website online is
really very simple, and once people get past the first
stumbling steps they rarely remember the difficulty they
once had, which leads to them being unable to understand
the next wave of dot com newbies.
So let's begin with defining some of the basic terms
that are commonly thrown around when looking for a web
host. You'll quickly realize that computer geeks like
using big words for simple concepts. What do you expect
from a group of people that decided to call half a Byte
Web Host: These are the people that supply your
website with somewhere to sit and be accessed from.
They're often a wealth of information, so when you're
trying to find your feet it will often be worthwhile to
contact their tech support and get your questions
answered. Because of this, it's important to contact
them BEFORE you sign up for any packages to ensure that
you'll receive a timely response. Just fire an email
their way and see what happens.
Disk Space: This is the same as the space on your
own PC's hard drive. Web Hosts will allocate a certain
amount of space to your website, usually in Megabytes
(MB) or gigabytes (GB). This determines how much you can
store on your site.
Bandwidth: Bandwidth is the amount of data that
can be retrieved from your site within the bandwidth
period. The bandwidth period is the length of time
before your bandwidth gets reset once again, usually
about a month.
Bandwidth is measured in MB and GB, like disk space.
Always find out the consequences of exceeding your
allocated bandwidth before you purchase a hosting
Domain Name: The domain name is your personal
identifier on the Internet.
This is what gets typed into a web browser's address bar
to reach your site. Some hosting companies will offer a
domain for free, while others will have the facilities
to provide one for a minimal cost.
SQL (MySQL, SQL Server etc.): Structured Query
Language. This is the language used to interact with
databases. Chances are that if you don't know about it
when you start looking for web hosting, you're not going
to need to know about it for at least a little while
HTTP: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. Basically,
how the Internet works. It is the protocol governing the
transfer of web pages from one place to another.
HTML: Hyper Text Markup Language. This is
(usually) what you'll be using to make your website,
whether directly or indirectly. Don't be scared by the
name, the 'language' is very easy to learn.
FTP: File Transfer Protocol. This is a method for
sending pages and files from your home PC to a server.
It is quite simple to use and your host will provide
login information if this is the method that they use
for file access. Typing "FTP://<server details>" into My
Computer on a windows box allows you to use FTP as if
your server were a regular windows folder.
POP3: This is a common email 'post box' system.
It is use to store emails for retrieval.
SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. A common
protocol used to send emails.
The beginner will not really need to know too much about
the above two email technologies. If they're listed,
good. It means you have email accounts with your website
(i.e. the email firstname.lastname@example.org will reach you,
There are many 'languages' used to enhance websites,
such as Java, Perl, ASP, .NET, PHP, etc. If you're just
starting out you should try to learn simple HTML first
before you worry too much about these more advanced
languages. In general they're not too difficult to
learn, but you'll want a solid grounding before you
The Internet is a wonderful source of knowledge, so
whenever you want information just fire up your favorite
search engine and type in your problem. The Internet is
full of sites about the Internet, so the information you
want shouldn't be too hard to find.
Building professional websites takes a lot of time and
skill, so many companies hire people to do it for them.
If this is the situation that you're in, talk to the
designer you're hiring about hosting, as they may have
struck a deal with a webhost to provide clients with
cheaper hosting packages. Also, the professional
designer will know what features you're going to need in
a hosting plan.
The world of web hosting is not as complicated as people
would like to make out. Just make sure you do a little
bit of research before diving in and you'll be less
likely to get burned by a shifty 'here today, gone
tomorrow' company. Check out the host's rankings on a
few Web Hosting Directories, do a search for reviews of
the company, contact the support staff before signing up
and enjoy the world opened by having your own online
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