If you want to have an online presence these days it is impossible to do so without your own website or blog. While many blogging platforms such as WordPress.com are free to use they do limit you in the sense of what you are allowed to do. Therefore it is recommended that you consider web hosting. The biggest issue new computer users face is a lack of knowledge about the technical terms used by web hosting companies. The “fear” or “insecurity” of the unknown turns many users away, which is a shame really because they are cutting themselves short.
To help you understand common web hosting terms we have written this article so that you can take advantage of the offers like a pro – even as a total newcomer to the Internet.
Web hosting: Web hosting is like having your own online home for your website. Without a host you would be hard-pressed to be found online because it is the real estate on which your website (online home) is situated on. While you can host a blog or website for free on many online platforms you are extremely limited in your options.
If you are a business or entrepreneur you really want to have your own self-hosted website because the Internet is massive right now and will only continue to grow. You simply can’t afford to be missing out on potential sales and customers due to the steady traffic the web provides.
When you purchase web hosting space, you can then upload files and images to your online real estate, effectively creating a website that will be available to millions of people worldwide.
Domain name: A domain name is your WWW address on the web. While the web host is your real estate, your domain name is your address, much like a physical address. But instead of a street name and number you are given a domain name (www.yourdomain.com).
Most web hosts provide you with a domain name of your choice once you register for an account. Alternatively you can also buy them from a domain name registrar.
Database: A database is simply a file which contains organized and structured information such as other files, pictures, music and more. The purpose of a database is to allow users access to information in a secure digital way by means of a login. A typical example is a self hosted WordPress blog which requires a database to function.
The owner would then be able to login to the admin section of the blog while readers can browse it with the help of the Internet without needing to login (unless the blog is made private).
MySQL: MySQL is the world’s most popular database for open source, meaning everybody can tweak and twiddle with the software however they deem fit. MySQL stands for “Structured Query Language.” These days most good hosts use MySQL databases due to their ability to deal with web languages such as PHP (which is code to laymen) but provides a more dynamic setup.
Disk Space: This terminology refers to the “virtual floorspace” you are given by your web hosting company. The hard disk space sits on the computers of your host, acting as your web server. Depending on the size of your website you might need more or less space. Many people start out with a small account and then gradually increase it if the need arises. Most users will never even use the amount of disk space given to them by their web host.
Bandwidth: The best way to imagine Bandwidth is to compare it to the amount of visitors and traffic you receive in your home each month. The more traffic your website has, the more data will be used. If your homepage is 40KB in size then each visitor to your website will use 40KB of data. This multiplies by the total amount of visitors you have on your website each month and then some because your own visits count as well.
If your allotted usage of Bandwidth is exceeded in any given month you will usually be charged extra by your hosting company. A good way to monitor your usage is by using the web stats program in your cPanel admin.
cPanel: A cPanel is simply said your control panel into which you as a webmaster can login and perform website maintenance tasks. In short it is a UNIX based web hosting interface.
Web Stats: Your web stats give you important insights into your website visitor’s behavior. While nobody should waste hours each day studying their stats, it is certainly useful and recommended to make it a habit to check-in at least once a week to see what brings visitors to your site and what repels them.
By monitoring your stats (from within your cPanel admin) you can gain clear insights in regards to your website which is essential for growing any site.
FTP: FTP stands for “file transfer protocol.” You need an FTP client to upload files to your online server (your host). You can access FTP features from within your hosting account’s cPanel or else you can download free or paid FTP software directly to your computer to save time.
POP 3 Email: A POP 3 email account is a common by-product of many web hosting packages these days. It will allow you to create one or unlimited email addresses depending on your package, which you can then forward to your computer by means of POP 3. Instead of having to read your email online after login into your account, you simply read in in Outlook Express or a similar program on your machine.
The great thing about domain specific emails is the professionalism they portray to readers. It sounds much better if you advertise email@example.com as your chosen email than using something like firstname.lastname@example.org
Hopefully by now you understand a little more about the mysteries of common web hosting terms. They really are not that hard to comprehend after you familiarize yourself with the terms. The best way to get familiar is to just buy a simple web hosting package and get started.