Business Website Hosting Basics - An Overview

By Vern L

As a business owner with a website designed to either sell, collect leads, or distribute information for your website you should have some idea what business web hosting is all about.

A host is where your website is located physically on the web. All of our sites are at KnownHost based in Texas. Physically, the bits and bytes that make up our website are located on a computer called a server, in Texas. A server could look just like your computer at home, or even be your computer at home if you wanted, but in most cases servers look like stacked stereo components in a cold air conditioned room with good airflow.

Website hosts like Known Host or GoDaddy have rooms full of servers. KnownHost's servers are located in California and Texas. The rooms or buildings containing all the servers are called data centers.

Website hosts give you a choice of the type of hosting your business website can use. Here are three of the main types of hosting packages you can choose for your business or personal website.

1. Shared hosting puts your website on a hard disk with many other websites on the same disk. You might share the disk with 5,000 other websites. This is very efficient and cheap for the hosting company and where they make most of their money because they can charge $50 to $100 per year for one website.

Multiplied by 5,000 is quite a number of dollars coming in on that one server. One hundred dollars a year for hosting is very cheap and, if there isn't much traffic to your website then you'll be happy enough because there won't likely be delays in serving your data across the globe.

With shared hosting your website shares an IP address with many other websites. You can usually buy a dedicated IP address to provide an easier and faster way for the server to find your files on the server and dish them out to visitors at your site. At Godaddy it is very cheap, less than $2 per month. Personally, I think it is worth the money.

2. Virtual servers are the next higher level and they, physically look the same as the shared hosting servers, but there is different server software installed that splits up the server's resources into separate blocks - one block for each website on the server. There are significantly less websites on each virtual server, perhaps 100 websites instead of 5,000.

Your website can handle a lot more traffic being part of a virtual server hosting package. Virtual servers cost anywhere from $25 to $100+ per month for one website. At Knownhost you could add as many websites as you want to your package - but they all split the resources among them. If you find yourself packing too many websites into your one package you can upgrade with more RAM or server space to accommodate many websites at the same monthly rate.

3. Dedicated servers are the most expensive option, but they are capable of handling huge amounts of traffic on the order of millions of people visiting your site per day. A dedicated server can be bought or rented from major hosts for prices usually between $100 and $500 per month. The only websites being hosted on the entire server - are your own. You have complete access to the processor, all RAM, and all bandwidth. The top host in the world for dedicated servers has, for a number of years, been Rackspace located in Texas.

So, your business site is hosted on a server at a host somewhere in the world. When a request for pages from your site is processed by the server you have a certain amount of bandwidth that allows the server to send your pages or files to your website visitor. A typical amount of bandwidth might be 100 Gigabytes (GB) per month. What that means is, the server will send 100 GB of files from your site over the internet to visitors computers so they can view it. Once you go over that limit you will be charged an overage fee per megabyte (MB) or GB according to how much you went over your allotted bandwidth.

You can upload your website files from your business computer to your business hosting server by using the file transfer protocol (FTP). CuteFTP or FireFTP programs are easy programs to learn and have excellent stability for the task. Basically it is like using Microsoft's file explorer program... dragging and dropping files from a window that represents a folder on your local computer to one that represents a folder on the remote server. If you use the FireFox browser you should try FireFTP because it is a free plugin that works very well.

When you sign up for a business hosting plan prices will depend on options you choose like:

Server Space - the amount of space on the hard drive for your website files at the server. This includes all files - html, mp3, video, etc. Bandwidth Per Month - the amount of data in kilobytes (KB) the server dishes out to visitors of your site over the month.

There is a lot more information you can find about web hosting for your business if you are interested. It is a topic that every business owner with a website should have a basic understanding of.

Vern Lovic has built a number of online businesses over the years, as well as designing over two hundred websites for himself and clients. Current he occupies himself with creating business content for incorporation sites like, "Florida Incorporation" ( Florida-Incorporation.com ).

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