Web hosting is all about buying your own “space on the Internet”. To do this, you need access to a computer that is permanently accessible via the Internet at the same address. And space on servers gets available for rent by the web hosts which are called s web hosting providers and you can start using the web hosting accordingly. In practice, you usually do not rent a whole computer in a data center, but only a certain amount of storage space (web space) and various services. These services usually include web servers, e-mail, and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) in even the smallest rental agreements. And very important: a domain. Computers are liable to be reached via IP addresses of the type 192.168.1.1 over the Internet, as you can access them from your home network. So that such an address can be addressed via a name, e.g. www.DMTwebhosting.com, a domain must be registered and registered with the Domain Name System (DNS).
And this is exactly where the difference to your home computer lies: The DSL provider always receives a different IP address. The computer at home can also be addressed with a fixed domain name via dynamic DNS (DDNS): Whenever you receive a new IP from the provider, your computer or router reports to the DDNS provider and updates the link between IP and domain. Why is it important? Very simple: You can use a NAS (Network Attached Storage) for website and cloud storage, for example – you no longer need web hosting. However, this is less reliable, the website is only as fast as your DSL upload bandwidth, the device must always be running and of course, there are also security concerns.
Rent whole computers?
Fully rented webspace has a number of advantages. The first question that arises is what you can rent. And here the bandwidth ranges from service and storage space to virtual servers to real complete computers. For private individuals, smaller projects, and, above all, every web hosting novice, both completely real and virtualized computers are completely oversized.
On real (dedicated servers) and virtual servers, you can handle everything, but you also have to set up and maintain web servers, e-mail, and so on yourself – a lot of effort and expensive on top of that. Only the normal offers of storage space and services are of interest.
The most important services
The basis is always a web server, otherwise, no websites could be published. If it is to be a dynamic website, for example, a blog with WordPress or an online shop with osCommerce, there are often two options: Systems intended for beginners usually offer the option of simply activating a “web application” such as WordPress with a click. If so, it is guaranteed to be on offer. If not, you need two things: A (MySQL) database and support for the PHP scripting language. With the PHP, web, and database server equipment, you can already operate a large part of all web applications. And considering the prices, you shouldn’t miss out on these features. Even if you don’t need them yet, because moving later is often associated with immense effort.
Pretty much all other services and features are of secondary importance at first. Exception: If your website is expected to have 10,000 or more visitors a day immediately, you must also pay close attention to the performance of the offer. However, not every provider immediately reveals which processors or RAM are used. Let alone how many customers then have to share this hardware. But as I said: for most private users that hardly matters.
Unfortunately, one very important point cannot be clarified that easily: Each provider offers its own administration interface – and this plays an enormous role in finding your way, especially for beginners. Unfortunately, the only thing that helps here is to try it, if possible, and otherwise, look for empirical values on the Internet.
Other optional services
You could (and have already) written entire books on the subject of web hosting, but the most important keywords and additional services that you should pay attention to can be dealt with very quickly:
- User accounts: SSL / TLS certificates
- Allows easy setup of HTTPS.
- Web statistics
- Evaluation of visitors and page views.
- In addition to PHP, Perl and Python could also be relevant.
- Integrate web storage locally as a drive.
- SSH access
- Enables access to the webspace via the terminal.
- Cron jobs
- Automatic execution of commands (task planning).
- Database management
- Preferably phpMyAdmin because it’s the standard par excellence.
Allows addresses like project.DMTwebhosting.com.
How do I use my webspace?
Once such an offer has been booked, what happens next? Again, there are several options. The simplest is via the administration interface, i.e. the provider’s own backend. Here you log into the browser as normal and can usually start web applications such as WordPress with a click and upload files via the web file manager. As I said, that depends on the provider.
The standard way is still via FTP and database administration. Using the age-old File Transfer Protocol, you can easily connect to the folder structure of your webspace and upload or download files. Generally, there is a folder called ” Web Root “, ” www ” or often ” htdocs ” (for hypertext documents). This is the base folder for your website – this directory is called up in the browser when your domain is called up, e.g. DMTwebhosting.com/. If there is a file called “index.php” or “index.html” in this folder, it will be called by default. If the file is in the “Test” subfolder, you would have to call it up in the browser via DMTwebhosting.com/test/.
Typical structure in web space, here via FTP: In the “www” folder there are various websites to which individual domains are linked.
Modern web applications such as WordPress also need a database. Here again, it differs from provider to provider. There will be a link to the database administration somewhere in the backend – this is the second important place. If you can find the standard phpMyAdmin tool mentioned here, all the better – because many instructions on the web refer to it exactly.
To get started, there is also a kind of standard workflow with which most applications can be installed: First, the files of a content management system, for example(CMS) copied to the base folder. Then you call up the installation routine – in most cases, it just works via “DMTwebhosting.com/cms” if the software is in the “cms” subfolder. The installation rarely has to be started more precisely, for example via an address like “DMTwebhosting.com/cms/installation” – that depends on the system. And now either a complete setup is started directly or the message that no database exists. If the installation routine cannot create this itself, you have to create it yourself in the database administration. And since it is usually sufficient here to give a name, it is also very easy.
So again in a nutshell: Upload the web application via FTP, create an empty database, call up the web application in the browser – run through the installation. That doesn’t always work, but mostly.
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