What is web hosting?
For a website to be available on the internet, somewhere in a dark lonely room, there needs to be a server silently buzzing away 24 hours every day. If it goes off, your website disappears from the internet. Web hosting is a service where someone keeps a server running every day to make sure your little corner of the internet is accessible. But where is your little corner of the internet exactly? That is where domains come in.
Domain Name, what is it?
A domain name is essentially your street address on the internet, it is your URL, the name of your website. For example, https://ecomli.co.za/ is our domain name. You can point information to your domain to portray certain information when someone visits it. All your files, photos, and products are stored with your hosting provider on their server and are fetched by devices when your address is visited.
You generally sign a one-year lease contract for a domain with a domain registrar for ownership. Think of this as property tax, it is the fee to reserve the address on the internet. The prices may vary depending on the domain name extension (the part after the dot). You reserve the right to reclaim your annual ownership by extending the lease every year.
There are many different types of domain name extensions, below are a few examples of popular extensions.
.com — was initially intended for “profit” business or E-commerce operations but is open for the general public
.net — was initially intended for internet service providers or networks but is open to the general public.
.co — is the general country name extension that is coupled with the relevant country code.
.gov — Limited to government agencies
.edu — Limited to educational institutions
.info — An open extension that is short for information
.xyz — An open extension available for general use
.site — A newer, generic domain extension that recently reached over 1 million registers in 2019
It is not an exact science to select a domain name extension, the most important part is to consider how familiar your audience is with the extension. The most well-known domain name extension by far is .com (Short for commerce). Roughly 48% of the world’s websites have a .com extension.
Second to that is the .co extensions, the “co” stands for the country, and the part after the second dot is the country code. For example, .co.za for South Africa.
It is also important to keep in mind that some domain extensions are reserved for special organisations as shown above. We will not delve too deeply into this topic in this topic in this article.
What type of hosting do I need?
There are several types, here is a nice little menu for you to help you choose.
Dedicated hosting is when you have a server all to yourself. Usually, you can rent a full pre-built server or you can spec out what you need from the ground up.
If you get a custom server built on your behalf, you have full control over the specs of your server. You can choose the operating system and decide what hardware (Ram, CPU, GPU, and storage) you need for the task at hand.
Dedicated hosting is very expensive and is generally appealing to large companies that need to run hardware-intensive processes.
Shared hosting is a setup where multiple people are connected to one big server. It is the most common type of hosting and is generally popular for people with online stores or standard websites. It is also the most affordable type of hosting.
With shared hosting, you can generally select from a hand full of preconfigured packages offered by your hosting provider. Meaning that you have no control over the hardware or software of your server partition outside the provided options.
Virtual Private Server Hosting takes the pricing of shared hosting and combines it with the features of dedicated hosting.
With VPS hosting, you don’t have to rent an entire server tower in physicality, rather, an “instance” or little container can be set up according to your specifications.
You can spec out the hardware (Ram, CPU, GPU, Storage space) as you see fit, keeping in mind that you can only go as “all-out” as the server hive in question can facilitate. Generally, a server hive is made up of multiple server towers that work in conjunction, so unless you need some SERIOUS number crunching done, you should be fine.
Cloud Hosting is generally considered the most reliable form of hosting because several servers are used rather than one, ensuring minimal downtime.
Generally, it works similarly to shared hosting where you will be able to select from a hand full of predefined packages with no control over the hardware. However, you can get a server cluster built specifically for you with dedicated server packages.
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