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What is Hosting?
Hosting is a service whereby you rent a set amount of space on a high-spec server's harddrive which is connected directly and permanently to the Internet. This rented space is where you store your webpages so that anyone who is connected to the Internet can look at them. Your domain name(s) points to this "webspace", so that when someone types in or clicks on one of your domain names (web addresses) they are served your website and it is displayed on their computer.
Most commercial servers have many thousands of websites running on them at once. You have an account on the server which allows uploading of webpages to a set portion of the servers harddisk which your domain name points too. It is very important that the server chosen is of a very high-spec, capable of delivering many webpage simultaneously from its harddrive. It is also important that the server is connected to a very high bandwidth connection to the Internet, much higher in bandwidth than any publicly available connections such as DSL or cable. The server needs a huge amount of bandwidth not only to serve out many simultaneous requests for your site, but everybody elses site on the server harddrive as well.
It may sound quite straight forward, a high-spec computer known as a server connected by a high bandwidth connection directly to the Internet, but its not. The quality of different hosting services differs enormously. For example free webspace, such as that provided with most Internet Service Provider accounts like Freeserve or AOL, is very slow at serving webpages due to the sheer number of people using their servers to host their websites. There is nothing worse for your customers or website users than having to wait a long time while the webpages download to their computer. The chances are, if you use free webspace the potential customer or user will have given up and moved on to another site before the webpage has even been displayed. Free webspace also conveys a "on the cheap" image which does not install much confidence in your company. A domain name and paid hosting is a must for any serious company venturing onto the web.
Your host may also deal with your email depending on whether or not your domain name is registered with your hosting company. It is highly recommended you register your domain names with the same company as your hosting. Otherwise you will need web and email forwarding from the company you registered your domain name(s) with, which is an additional unnecessary cost.
The underlying technology and software used by a server is also very important and has bearing on the stability, functionality and flexibility of the server. If you require a standard website that is static as opposed to dynamic (database driven) webpages then all servers should do the job software-wise, but if you require a database driven website, this includes forums and chat rooms (we'll be covering this later in more detail) then the software the server uses is all important. Please bear this in mind if you are choosing your own hosting service or already have some web space, as this may limit the functionality of your website.
There are many hosting services out there and you may already have an account with one but be warned if you want a quality service that delivers your website to your customers / users fast and is stable with little downtime, you may need to do some research to find the best hosting service for you. Also please beware of people re-selling webspace. This is people who buy webspace and then sell it on at a profit. Unless your hosting company looks professional, established and has positive user reviews and after sales support, it may be best to avoid.
If you do not have any webspace we will open you an account with FutureQuest our chosen and very reliable, user friendly hosting service.
If you are on a very tight budget you can share hosting space on an existing package we use for our clients who only want a very basic website solution. The disadvantage of this is that you dont have any POP Email accounts, so you cant use email@example.com or any other email address that uses your domain name. You also dont have access to statistics of the number of users etc. that have visted your website and you cant setup a mailing list.
As a guide the prices for the Starter, Basic, Silver, Gold and Platinum packages as of 01/02/03 are:
NEW: All Silver packages now come with 6 MySQL databases!
The package you require largely depends on the size of your website and if you require dynamic (i.e. database driven) webpages. Most dynamic websites require at least the silver packages, as they have database (MySQL) functionality enabled.
If required VAS (Value Added Services) can also be purchased such as extra email accounts, extra disk space etc.
If you wish to know more about FutureQuest or compare it to other hosting services go to www.futurequest.net where they have full details of their package and for information about their underlying hardware and security go to www.visionquest.net
FutureQuest also have facilitates that can be activated that allows streaming of Real player video.
We can advise you which package is best for you, and if quoting for a web solution for which you do not already have hosting, we will include our recommended package and cost. Nine times out of ten (except database driven websites) you will only require the starter package.
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