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Basic Web Hosting Information for Beginners

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 6/6/2010

If you're new to web design and need to know what it takes to host a website, then you need basic web hosting information for beginners. This guide is a compilation of several others here on the web development channel to help you find all the information you need in one place.

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    The Components of Web Hosting

    Storage Space: This is the amount of space you'll have to store your website files, graphics, audio, video and more. Many plans come with more than enough storage space. If you have any doubts, take a look at all the files you will need for your site to function on your hard drive--you probably have these stored in one folder with subfolders--right click on the folder, and choose "properties." This will tell you how much space on your hard drive it occupies--and how much space you'll need from your host.

    Bandwidth refers to the amount of "storage space" you have for your traffic. Each time a page on your site is loaded, some of your bandwidth is taken. Many plans have more than enough bandwidth, but charge for overages, so you'll need to watch your traffic and bandwidth levels using an analytics program and your host control panel to ensure you're on track. Generally, more traffic to a website means you'll have more money coming in, so if and when a bandwidth upgrade is necessary, you'll be able to make the change without feeling a financial pinch.

    A Domain Name is the name by which people will find your site on the web. These can be purchased separately from hosting, and may be offered for free with hosting. Also consider the number of subdomains that come with the hosting plan for future expansion of the website.

    FTP refers to File Transfer Protocol, the method which most people use to upload their files to the domain and make the website live.

    Databases and Programming Language Support: Databases are necessary to run ecommerce and WordPress based websites. One may be enough, though others may be needed, so you need to be sure that if your site will require an MySQL database that your host will support it. Consider the site features and the programming languages required to make those run and then make sure the host supports your needs.

    Uptime refers to the amount of time the server your website is hosted on is online. The higher this percentage the better, because when the servers are down, your website is down and therefore unavailable to consumers.

    Pricing Tiers: Different hosting plans will come with different pricing, yes, but consider how frequently the payments must be made to keep the account active. Some hosts do not allow the option to purchase monthly hosting and offer discounts for bulk purchase of their hosting in order to setup an account. Some hosts allow month-to-month purchasing, but these generally cost more per month. The decision as to which host to go with may often come down to cost and convenience of purchase.

    Windows vs. Linux Many people wonder if Windows based hosts are better than Linux based hosts and vice versa. This article will help you decide which one is better for your needs, or if it even matters at all.

    Email Accounts: Some hosts offer email accounts with their hosting and domain packages while others do not. Consider your email needs, and also consider the fact that email addresses matching your domain do give a more professional appearance to your site and business. If you find a host that meets your needs offering email accounts that do not, consider finding another host, or searching for email account providers that will work in conjunction with your hosting.

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    Other Resources

    Choosing a web hosting plan is a daunting task for some, but with the basic web hosting information for beginners available here on the Web Development Channel, it does not have to be. Take some time to consider what your website will do and this will help you determine the web hosting options you need.

    From here, you will be able to determine if you should choose a free or paid web hosting plan. After this, you may want to take a look at the top five budget web hosting plans, or a list of web hosting companies.

    We also have resources on the best video and photo hosting websites.