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Web Hosting Explained

If you are reading this page then you need the concept of web hosting explained. You may not be specifically knowledgeable about the technical aspects of Web Hosting and what all the terms mean but by browsing the web you are constantly accessing web pages that are hosted by individuals or companies across the world.

What you are viewing right now is a web page. Using your web browser, you have typed in or clicked a web address (or URL) telling your browser where to go on the Internet. When your request to look at that page goes out to the Internet, your address contains a domain name that is translated to a unique internet protocol (IP) address that tells the Internet where to look for the web page. Web pages can be located on University Servers, at company sites, in military headquarters, web service providers, and any other number of organizations. Web pages can even be located on individual people’s computers and some run software on their computer to do just that. Any computer or server that actually has the web page physically located on it is called a host. The server is said to host the web page. When you click or type to come to this web page, this web page is hosted on a server – contained as a file on a hard drive.

In the early days of the Internet, web pages were primarily means of sharing information between academia and governmental agencies. The links on the pages made it easier to find the information needed rather than remembering or keeping a list of all the internet addresses. In fact, it is still possible to browse to web pages using IP’s (but that’s a different subject). Outside of academia, in those early years, web pages were more of a novelty with very few businesses actually relying upon them to share critical information or generate revenue. Putting a web page on a home computer or on a SUN workstation with no backup was acceptable – if the computer or workstation got turned off or crashed then it was more of a hobby than a necessity.

As the web became more ubiquitous with businesses and organizations recognizing the power that the web had to offer, it was no longer acceptable to treat web pages as a hobby. Hosting a web site on just any computer just wouldn’t cut it any more. Powerful web servers, switches, and routers were built in data centers that had fire suppression systems with Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) systems and diesel generators that would continue to operate even if the surrounding area lost electricity. As more people connected to the Internet, the “need for speed” or bandwidth became more critical (Think of all the people trying to access Google at the same time and how quickly they are able to respond – they can’t do that with a single dial-up connection to the Internet.)

Finally, as more people and critical business systems came online so did malicious users intent on spreading viruses and attacking web servers. In addition to all the fancy hardware necessary to provide web pages, companies now had to protect their servers from malicious coders using firewalls and other preventive measures. I still vividly remember the “cowboy” days of the mid-90’s when military and industry where trying to get their arms around the new technology – some may remember how easy it was for hackers to play with the FBI website.

All the technology and expertise that goes into providing a reliable and secure website on the Internet is clearly not cheap. Web Hosting companies have proliferated to fill this gap. The Web Hosting company takes care of building the secure data center with reliable hardware, software, and technical expertise. Individuals and companies pay the Web Hosting provider to give them space on their machines, allow them to run applications, set up web stores, and use bandwidth on the Internet. The company and individual pay a small amount for reliable service while the Web Hosting Company benefits from volume of customers.

If you still need web hosting explained more you can visit multiple forums to learn more about specific techologies.