Web Hosting Help - FAQ, Features and Terms Explanation

Beginners Guide

Introduction to Web Hosting
 - What is web hosting and why do you need web hosting
 - Server vs. Your computer
 - Different type of web hosting - Shared Hosting (Virtual Hosting)
 - Dedicated Server
 - Server Co-Location
 - What is Operating System (OS)?
 - Unix - Linux & FreeBSD
 - Windows Server 2003
 - Unix or Windows?
 - Can I use a Unix host even if my computer is running Windows?

Introduction to Domain Name
 - What is a domain name?
 - Why do you need a domain name?
 - How do you register a domain name?
 - DNS Server (Domain Name System)

Email Hosting (with your Domain Name)
 
- What is email?
 - Create email account under your new domain name
 - How do I send and check email? (Web Interface & Email Client)
 - Introducing IMAP
 - Email Forwarder
 - Auto-Responder

 

Top FAQ

Do I need a Dedicated IP Address (Unique IP)?

What is Add on Domain, Multiple Domains, Domain Alias, Domain Parking ... ?

Do you have a question that you want to ask? We're here to help!

 

Features Chart Explained

Currency

The currency of the monthly price, i.e. USD, GBP, CAD or AUD. Most plans listed in our directory are in USD.

Monthly Price (Setup Fee)

We record prices for 5 different billing cycles - 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months and 24 months. The monthly prices shown are the average hosting cost for each month based on the specific billing cycle. Setup fee is charged only once when you order a new account. Usually, monthly price is cheaper and setup fee is waived if you prepay for a longer period.

PLAN FEATURES

Disk Space

Also known as disk storage. Calculated in the unit of MB (Mega Bytes). Disk space are used to store the contents of your web site, including all you HTML files, images and anything else that is downloadable by your visitors. Web space are cheap today. Web hosts usually offer sufficient disk space (> 200 MB) with their plans. Your allocated disk space are also used to store your emails, web access log files and database files. Text files (HTML) will not consume a lot of disk space. It is the binary files that will take up a lot of disk space. Binary files include pictures, MP3s, videos, sharewares and others. Disk space is only meaningful with sufficient allocated bandwidth.

Bandwidth

Also known as data transfer. Measured in GB (Giga Bytes, 1 GB = 1024 MB ~ 1000 MB). Bandwidth is more valuable than disk space. Your bandwidth usage is the amount of data transfer from your web site to your visitors. It is measured on a monthly basis and is 'reset' at the beginning of each month. Your bandwidth usage will be vary every month depending on 'How large are your files' and 'How many visitors to your site'.

If you assume there will be 5,000 visitors to your site in a month and each of them will download 10 of your pictures that are 50 KB each, you will need 5,000 x 10 x 50 KB = 2,500,000 KB which is equivalent to 2.5 GB of bandwidth. This is the easiest way to estimate your bandwidth. Usually text files (HTML) will not consume a lot of bandwidth because they are naturally small in size. Your bandwidth estimation should based on the binary files usage (pictures, ZIP files, Macromedia Flash, MP3s ...).

FTP Accounts

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. FTP allows you to upload and download files to/from your account. This is the most common way people use to send files to their web host. You will need a tool to do so. Our favorite FTP tool is CuteFTP (Homepage). We can safely assume all paid hosting providers will allow their members to FTP to their site because it is just too common and important. Usually many free hosting providers do not allow FTP because they need to force their members to use their web-based upload tool so they could display advertisement. You will need a correct username and password pair to FTP to your account.

CGI-BIN, Perl, SSI

CGI stands for Common Gateway Interface (Related Site). You certainly have reach some web sites that require login or do some online purchase before. In a login process, the server need to check and verify your username and password, these are done by some executable scripts. So as when the server need to verify your credit card information. CGI is the interface between these scripts and the server. CGI-BIN is a special directory used to store those scripts. CGI scripts can be written in many languages but the most popular is Perl (Website). SSI stands for Server Side Includes (Related Site). SSI offers some dynamic features to your web pages, such as including a current date to your page.

Perl scripts are popular in the old days but has been challenged by PHP (see definition below) for the last few years. PHP is more powerful and yet more easy to use because it is designed for the web. Perl is a programming language which is not designed for the web at the very first place. SSI are also rarely used nowadays because of its limited features. Everything that can be done by SSI can easily be done in a PHP script. Anyway, CGI-BIN, Perl and SSI are usually included in a paid hosting package.

PHP

PHP stands for PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (Homepage). It is a very powerful scripting language created specially for the web. It can be used to write a lot of scripts, i.e. scripts that check for login information, discussion forums, shopping carts and many more. We use PHP extensively in our site here. Some of the powerful scripts include the one that search the database of hosting plans base on numerous search options and the compare script that generate comparison chart of selected web hosting plans. PHP is not difficult to learn especially for those who have programmed before in other languages. If you are interested in learning it, it is recommended that you get a book about it.

FrontPage Extensions

Microsoft FrontPage (Homepage) is a very popular WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web builder software. With FrontPage extensions installed, you are allowed to publish your site directly to your web host via Microsoft FrontPage. Most people concerns are whether if FrontPage is compatible with a Unix server. The answer is Yes! There are FrontPage extensions specially written for the Unix systems which allow you to publish your site to a Unix server. Our site are published from Microsoft FrontPage running on a Windows PC to a Unix server. The fact is, most FrontPage users are actually publishing their sites to a Unix server without even understand what is Unix!

Raw Log Files

Raw log files are text files generated by your web server. Basically it contains information about your site visitors, i.e visitor IP addresses, the files they accessed, the site they came from (referrals) ... It is hard to be read directly as it is still 'raw' but there are many Web Statistics software available to analyze the raw log files. The analyzer will generated useful and easy to read Web Statistics (with numbers and graphs) for you. One such popular tool is WebTrends (Homepage).

Protected Directories

When someone visit a protected directory that has been created by you, he will need to have the correct username and password before he can view the contents of that directory. For an example, you might want to have a section of your pictures available only to your paid members. All you need to do is to put those pictures in a protected directory and assign a username/password pair to each of your paid members.

Anonymous FTP

This feature allows you to give permission to anyone to download files or even upload files to your account via FTP. Of course you will have to create a special directory for this so they won't mess up your important files. If you have anonymous FTP enabled, anyone could login to your account via an FTP tool without the need of username and password. Usually the web host require a visitor to login using anonymous as username and their email address as password. Lets say you want your visitor to send you new Britney Spears pictures, instead of asking them to email you the pictures, you can ask them to FTP the pictures to your account. Of course they will need to know how to FTP! :) Most web hosts do not offer anonymous FTP with their plans.

Telnet/SSH

Also know as Shell Access. It allows you to login to your host's system and execute commands on it! You may delete files, upload files, check emails on the remote system. Due to security concern, almost all hosts do not allow Telnet/SSH.

EMAIL FEATURES

Email Accounts

You should be familiar with this. An email account looks like you@yoursite.com and allows you to send mail and receive mail from it. Email account are usually accessed with an email client such as Outlook Express or Eudora. It could also be accessed with your browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc.) if the Web-Based Email feature is provided.

Forwarders (Alias)

An email forwarder is an email address but is not a real email account. It will just forward any email received by it to another email address you configured. For an example, you can setup a forwarder sales@mycompany.com and post it everywhere in your site. When somebody send an email to it, it actually directed to your sales manager joe@mycompany.com. The benefit of posting sales@mycompany.com instead of joe@mycompany.com to your homepage is, what if Joe quit the job and Jimmy replaced him? You will have to change everything in your site, instead of just reconfigure your forwarder.

You can configure an email address to be both an email account and a forwarder. In this case, you can send mail and receive mail with this email address, while at the same time all emails received will be forwarded to another email address.

Autoresponders

An autoresponder is also an email address. It will send a preset message to the sender when it received an email. The most basic use of an autoresponder is to notify the sender that the email has been received successfully. Another good use of an autoresponder is to send a list of top sales FAQ to the sender when then send an email to your sales team. This will save a lot of time for the sender if the answer he/she need is in the FAQ!

If an autoresponder email address is not setup as an email account, the emails received will not be saved. So, if messages received with an autoresponder need to be read later, it must be configured as an email account as well.

Web-Based Email

If this feature is provided, you can accessed your mailbox with a browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc.) just like a Hotmail or Yahoo email account.

IMAP Protocol

Ordinary email accounts are POP accounts. POP stands for Post Office Protocol. It is a very simple protocol to receive email. When an email is sent to a POP email account, the server store it until the user check and retrieve the mail. Once the mail is retrieved, it will be removed from the server. You must use the exact computer the next time you want to refer to this specific email. This create a problem when someone are using their email account from multiple places/computers, such as office and home. IMAP is a new protocol created mainly to solved this problem. IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol (Homepage). An IMAP email account will have all the emails stored and managed from the server. No matter which computer you are using, your email client will accessed the same mailbox at the server so you do not need to worry about where you have saved your email. However, POP are still far more common than IMAP today. Email client that support IMAP efficiently are Outlook Express and Eudora.

Mailing List

A mailing list allows you to control a list of email addresses effectively. You can manage it through a control panel with a lot of features such as adding and removing members. Users can also opt-in or opt-out of the mailing list by clicking on a link or using a web form. You can also determine who can send email to the mailing list. If you are the only one who can send email to the list, then it is probably a newsletter. If all people are given the right to send email to it, then it becomes a discussion mailing list.

OTHERS

Money Back Guarantee

The number of days where you can ask for a refund if you are unsatisfied with the service. It is always a good shopping practice to look for hosts that offer money back guarantee. Note that only hosting fees will be refundable. Setup fee and domain registration fee will not be refundable for almost all cases. But you will still own your the right to your registered domain name.

Toll Free Support

Allow you to call your web hosts at toll free. The toll free number usually available only to people from the US and Canada. Other countries might not be benefit from it. However, most hosts that provide toll free support will usually have phone support available to their international customers.

more to come...


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