Running your own website or blog might be complicated. Not sure what a certain term means? Here you may find answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Web Hosting FAQs
What is a web hosting service?
Web hosting is, more or less, an agreement between you and a web hosting service provider that you will pay a monthly/yearly lease to own and operate a portion of their massive web servers. These are computers that will house all of your data and will allow others to get a good look at the content you so painstakingly create. Think of it as a storage unit with windows that other Internet users will drive by and take a peep through.
In order to operate a web site, you absolutely need a web hosting account, as no site can just live on the Internet without a web server. Since web server usually costs thousands of dollars it is much more affordable to simply lease one from a web hosting provider. Web hosting services give you the opportunity to reach the world wide web without making a significant investment.
What is a shared hosting?
Shared web hosting services are amongst the most popular types of web hosting, primarily because they are extremely affordable. Shared web hosting provides the plan holder with access to a small part of a web server that is used by hundreds of other web sites. These powerful web servers are split into partitions that are allocated to the web hosting customers. As a shared web hosting plan holder you have access to a set amount of server resources. However, if you need to exceed these limitations then resources are pulled from other partitions on the network to accommodate your needs. Although this process may sacrifices performance and page loading times, it gives you the ability to have unlimited plan features such as bandwidth and disk space.
Shared hosting is a very unique web hosting type that usually costs less than any other kind of web hosting plan. Many webmasters get their first bit of web hosting experience by purchasing and using a shared web shoring plan. Shared hosting is essentially a type of hosting configuration in which a single web server is used to power hundreds of web sites that are owned by different webmasters, hence the term “shared” hosting.
Web server configurations can have a great impact on the way web sites perform, especially when the site beings to grow and experience high levels of traffic. Even though shared web hosting is a less comprehensive service, it is enough to run a basic web site and receive internet training with. In fact, most experts recommend starting out with shared web hosting in order to learn in a comfortable and affordable hosting environment, before moving on to more advanced solutions. If you are planning on getting started as a webmaster then you may want to consider shared web hosting as your first web hosting plan.
How are servers shared?
Shared web servers are unique because they are split up into partitions that are assigned to each hosting account. A server partition is a section of a web server that is completely separate from the rest of the web server. Even though the partitions are completely separate, the server software configuration is the same across the entire web server. Server resources are distributed evenly amongst the server in the event of a partition overload. For example, if your web site is stressing the network’s resources and pushing its limitations, then another server partition may aid in the operation of your web sites by providing extra server resources.
If you are consistently overstepping the boundaries of your shared server partition then you will most likely be warned by the web hosting provider via email. Too much excessive use can result in suspension of service or a hosting upgrade. Many shared web hosting plans offer unlimited features, however there are very real limitations, especially when the server limitations are consistently overused.
What are the benefits of shared hosting?
The most apparent benefit of shared hosting is the strikingly low cost associated with most shared hosting accounts. In fact, our shared hosting plans cost as little as KSH 250 per month, which is incredibly affordable, especially considering the number of server resources that are allocated to each hosting account.
As hundreds of sites can be hosted on a shared web server simultaneously, it becomes an incredibly profitable situation for the hosting company and the hosting account holder. If you are trying to maintain a strict monthly budget then you may want to consider shared web hosting for your next internet endeavor.
Aside from the lower cost shared hosting plans often come with unlimited features. Shared web servers distribute the server load evenly to keep sites performing optimally. If you do exceed your plan usage with shared hosting, you’ll usually receive a warning rather than a bill, and in most cases, the company will help you upgrade to a new plan.
Many shared web hosting plans will also let you host unlimited domains. Some people refer to this kind of hosting as multiple domain hosting. If you own many websites and you’d like to operate them from within a single interface, then you may want to consider shared hosting.
If you are unsure about your needs as a webmaster then you may want to consider a shared hosting plan, as they are very expandable and the risk is low since the plans are affordable.
What is a domain name?
Domain names are much like the number plate of a vehicle, there are no two that are exactly the same.
Domain names are the identity cards of the Internet, representing the face of each website. In basic terms, a domain name is simply the name of your web site. However, behind each domain name is a process that turns a local web address into a word or phrase that anyone can use to access your site from around the world. A domain name is a phrase or even just a word that people input in their browsers to be pointed directly to a specific web site.
Domain names actually originate as the IP address of your website, which is a number that appears in the following syntax – xx.xx.xxx.xx or 77.77.777.77. A domain name is perhaps one of the most important parts of any website because it is ultimately what the visitor will remember when they try to return to the site.
The ideal domain name is short, memorable, and contains no dashes and/or numbers.
What is a TLD?
Domain names end with extensions called TLDs. The TLD is the letters that appear after the last dot in the domain name. For example, .com is a TLD. Fortunately there are a wide variety of TLDs available, and there are even geographically specific TLDs that specify the location of a web site. The cost of a domain name will usually depend upon the TLD.
Dot com domains are the most common, with .org, .net and .info following closely behind in terms of popularity.
What are subdomains and how are they used?
Subdomains are actually extensions of a website that are primarily used to separate and categorize web site content. The address of the subdomain appears before the main domain name. For example – subdomain.example.com. It does not cost money to add a subdomain to your web site, and many web hosting providers allow the use of unlimited subdomains.
By creating a subdomain you are actually creating a separate web site within your site, which can be used as its own independent directory. When content is uploaded to the subdomain via FTP, a new FTP account should be created for the subdomain to facilitate quicker access to the site’s directories and files.
What are parked domains?
Parked domains are web sites that are not currently being utilized by the site owner. Parked domains often have advertisements on them that are related to the subject of the domain. For example, if you have a domain by the name of “carinsurance.com” then you could park it with advertisements on the page related to that niche or industry.
There are two ways a domain name is parked – either by a domain owner through a domain name registrar or by default. When you first purchase a domain name it is parked by the domain name registrar automatically. For example, if you were to purchase a domain name from WebsiteHostingKenya, the domain would be parked by WebsiteHostingKenya automatically, until you place content on the site.
What is an IP address?
IP addresses are used to uniquely identify a website or computer. Any device that is connected to the internet is automatically assigned an IP address. IP stands for Internet Protocol, which is simply the practice through which data is transmitted over the internet. When a computer or web server is connected to a network it is given an IP address that separates it from all other devices on the network. An IP address is a string of numbers separated by dots that appear in the following format – 188.8.131.52. If you are connected to the internet right now then you have an IP address assigned to you.
IP address are crucial to internet communication because they dictate where a request for information is sent to. For example, if a web site visitors your site and clicks on a button, information is sent from their IP address to your web server. In order to return the proper information the web server will need to know the IP address of your computer.
What is a DNS?
Domain Name System is responsible for the allocation of domain names and traffic direction based on URLs in the address bar of the web browser. The Domain Name System is the largest database in the world, containing information about every web site in existence. There are currently more than 350 million unique active domains on the Internet.
Web sites are identified by the IP address of their server and/or server partition. However, an IP address is a number, which is far more difficult to remember than a simple phrase. In order to convert the IP address of a web site into a memorable phrase that is the domain name, a DNS server is needed.
What is a domain name server?
A name server is a web server assigned with the sole task of sending and receiving request pertaining to domain names and IP addresses. The job of the domain name server is to take a number like an IP address and turn it into a readable term that can be typed into a browser’s address bar, or vice versa.
Computers read Internet addresses much differently than humans. All computer language is in numbers and not letters. Therefore, in order for information to be transmitted from the nameserver to a user’s computer, the DNS has to transmit information pertaining to the address and meaning of the domain name. The domain name system is a basically the largest database in the world, receiving more requests than any other database.
How do I register a domain name?
The first thing you should do when you are ready is to select a domain registrar (eg Website Hosting Kenya) and then open an account with them. Once you have registered you will need to choose your domain name and make sure it is available. The registrar will be able to provide you with your login information so that you may use their interface to edit the name servers and other domain properties.
Your name servers will dictate what web site or server your domain name represents. Your hosting account contains the names of the name servers that you need to point your domain to. Simply log into the control panel of your web hosting account, and you can find your name server information, or just call your hosting company and ask them for it.
What is disk space?
Disk space is the amount of storage space allocated to your website, server or server partition, which can be used by your website. Having adequate disk space is very important because it directly affects the total size limits of your site or network of sites. If you want to continuously update your web sites with new content and steadily build your online empire, then you will definitely need a plethora of bandwidth.
For example, if you have 5 GB of disk space allocated to your web hosting plan, then the amount of files on your web site cannot exceed this amount of data. When you run out of disk space you will be unable to update your site with new content, which means the progression of your online endeavors will come to a complete halt. Since updating your site is a very important part of building traffic levels and keeping your visitors returning you will need to make sure you have an adequate amount of bandwidth available at all times.
Disk space is often displayed on all hosting plan sales pages. Disk space is extremely important because it directly affects how much data can be stored on your web server at any point in time.
How much disk space do you need?
To find out how much disk space you need, you’ll need to learn a little bit about file sizes. If you don’t feel like reading a book about various file types and how much space they consume on a web server, then you can simply use your computer’s hard drive as a reference.
For example, download a web page from the internet, and then take note of the file size of that web page. Now simply multiply that file size to realize the amount of disk space consumed to host thousands of similar pages. You should also consider multimedia content as well, such as videos and movies. Videos can range in size greatly depending upon whether they are a clip or an entire movie.
It is best to assess your disk space needs before you purchase your web hosting plan by estimating how big your site will be within the foreseeable future. If needed, you can upgrade your hosting plan; however, your goal is to make the site creation process simple and hassle-free. By having a plan with adequate disk space, you remove the need to upgrade unnecessarily.
How can disk space limitations affect my site?
Disk space limitations are extremely important because they affect how much content your sites can host. For example, if you have a large website with thousands of files, you may be consuming a lot of disk space. If you were to run out of disk space, you would be unable to update your site, and your site performance would decrease.
Now, of course, at this point, you could update to another hosting plan; however, the time wasted and the amount of dissatisfied visitors will have already taken its toll. It is very important to choose a web hosting plan that will be able to accommodate your site’s disk space needs.
What happens when disk space limits are reached?
When a web server runs out of disk space all sites being hosted on that server begin to suffer. No new content can be added to the sites until some new disk space is available. In order to facilitate this process the webmaster either has to begin deleting old posts on the site in an attempt to make room for new content, (similar to housekeeping an old storage shed), or the entire hosting plan needs to be upgraded (like buying a new storage shed). It is important to note that nothing can be added to your sites when there is no disk space available, including user comments and any other data. Fortunately, most web hosting companies send out warnings via email when the disk space limitations are being approached.
What is bandwidth?
Web hosting bandwidth is the measurement of data being transmitted through your web server at a given period of time.
Having adequate bandwidth is very crucial to the success of your site because it will affect your site visitor’s experience, especially when there are high traffic levels. Every visitor that views a page on your site is consuming bandwidth because they are downloading and uploading information to the web server. Thus, in order to accommodate high daily traffic levels you will need ample bandwidth. This is the primary reason why bandwidth is one of the two most important web hosting features to consider when shopping for a new plan.
Bandwidth is perhaps the most important because it dictates how many visitors your website can handle during a single time period.
What are bandwidth limitations?
Many web hosting plans do not come with unlimited bandwidth, which means there is a set limit that determines how much data can be downloaded and uploaded from the web server at any one time. Once this limitation is exceeded, pages will begin to freeze while loading and the site may even crash for hours at a time. Many people don’t understand how easy it is to exceed the amount of bandwidth allocated to you, especially if you own a rapidly growing site.
In other words, the amount of traffic that can visit your website at one point in time without decreased site performance is directly related to your bandwidth limitations. Bandwidth restrictions can have a great impact on the progression of a web site, so it is important to make sure you have adequate amounts of bandwidth available to your site before driving web traffic.
How is bandwidth measured?
Bandwidth is simply a measurement of the amount of data being transferred at any particular period of time. To understand the limitations of bandwidth and how it is measured, you have to understand how data transfer works. If a file that consumes about 5MB of data is transferred from the web server to the visitor’s computer at one point in time, then 5MB of bandwidth is being used at that time. However, if three people download that 5MB file at the same time, then 15MB of data is being transferred. Thus, if your hosting account only allows for 10MB bandwidth, in the above example, one of the visitors would have to wait because the bandwidth limitations would be exceeded at that moment in time.
By measuring bandwidth, web hosting companies can accurately and effectively control their web servers and keep them operating smoothly. The way server resources are delegated after the limits are reached depends upon the type of web hosting. If you are noticing that you are routinely exceeding your bandwidth limitations, then you may want to start comparing other web hosting plans for your next upgrade.
What is a control panel?
What can control panels do?
Control panels give you complete control over your hosting account within a centralized user-friendly interface. There are various control panels on the market, and each one has its advantages.
The most popular control panel is cPanel, which is by far one of the simplest and well-documented tools on the internet. With such a large user base, it is literally impossible to be confused with cPanel. Most web hosting providers offer complete video tutorials for every module within cPanel, and if your hosting provider does not, you can usually find the same tutorials on other sites like Youtube. A good control panel will give you complete control over your hosting account with very little training using visual modules and integrated instructions.
What are control panel functions?
When you log into your control panel, you will notice a set of modules arranged in rows. Each row pertains to a different a section of website and server management. Some of the modules which you will be using most often include the email module (where you can check your site’s email and create new email accounts), the domain manager (which lets you assign new domains and manage your current list of domains and subdomains), redirects (which lets you assign specific redirects from one web page to another), and the FTP section (where you can set up access to your web server through an FTP client).
The aforementioned sections are just some of the many modules that you have at your convenience within the web hosting control panel. If you operate an online business with multiple business email addresses associated with your domains, then you’ll most definitely use the email account module the most. You’ll want to choose an email client that suits your needs. Most of the time, you can choose from applications such as Squirrel Mail.
How do I install scripts within a control panel?
If you have no clue what a script is, then you will definitely need a quick-installation utility such as Softaculous Auto Installer (Provided for free by Website Hosting Kenya). These utilities let you quickly install over 50 scripts without any formal training or technical knowledge.
A script is basically a program or application that will enhance your website in some way. For example, content management systems such as WordPress can be installed using simple installation utilities. Without these one-click installation utilities, it would be nearly impossible for the average person to install all of the scripts needed to operate the site optimally.
Aside from content management system scripts, these utilities help you install traffic analysis scripts, entire forums, and various blogging platforms that give you complete administrative control over your sites.
CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (CMS)
What is a CMS?
Content management systems are comprehensive site management utilities that are becoming increasingly popular amongst webmasters. In the past, site management was a complex process that required advanced training, diligence, technical knowledge and internet experience. Now complete novices are building, organizing and maintaining large web sites with no formal training, and nothing more than a basic hosting account.
Content management systems are literally revolutionizing the way the internet is being developed, by giving webmasters convenient access to tools and resources needed for efficient site administration. While some web site owners still code pages in HTML and upload files manually to their web server, it is becoming quite obvious that using a content management system is much easier and faster.
With a user-friendly interface you can control nearly every aspect of your web site. If you are having difficulty updating your site one page at a time using an FTP client, or you simply need a solution that is suitable for the novice webmaster, then you may want to consider using a content management system. Most modern site owners use a CMS to maintain their web sites, so if you are trying to compete on the internet you may want to consider doing the same as well. They are incredibly useful and usually included for free with nearly every web hosting plan.
What are the advantages of CMS?
One of the most advantageous aspects of content management systems is the ability to quickly create web sites with no programming or web design skills. In fact, there are plenty of webmasters that are building and operating dozens of web sites without any previous technical knowledge or web development experience. With content management systems like WordPress it has never been easier to design and manage multiple web sites.
Every day new themes and templates are created and shared online for free. These templates are actually entire site designs that can be applied to a site with a click of the mouse. One of the interesting features of every content management system is their ability to change the design of an entire web site without affecting the content of the pages and posts. You can even test out new designs and create your own custom themes without having to worry about losing data or disrupting the site’s content in any way.
What CMS should I choose?
Choosing the right content management system can be crucial towards the success of your web site. In the world of online business productivity is everything. If you are constantly held down by the burden of administrative duties and mundane site management tasks then you will be unable to focus on the planning and progression of your business. There are many content management systems available at the moment – WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.
If you are not familiar with internet technology and you are intimidated by the prospect of managing a site, then you may want to consider starting with a simple CMS like WordPress. It is by far the simplest CMS to use. Even though WordPress was originally a blogging platform, it has quickly become the most commonly used CMS in the world. The overwhelming popularity of WordPress has also led to the development of countless plugins that enhance its capabilities. In fact, WordPress has more plugins than any other content management system by far! If you are a new webmaster and you would like to become familiar with content management systems, then you should definitely consider using WordPress first.
Drupal and Joomla are more advanced content management systems that is often used by developers with extensive administrative requirements.
How do I manage content with CMS?
Content management systems are unique management platforms that can be used to complete a variety of administrative actions. However, the main functionality of every CMS is content management. Within the centralized control interface you can write, edit, organize, categorize, schedule, and publish content within a single user-friendly platform. The first step in managing content with a content management system is content development.
Content management systems like WordPress have plugins that can be used to enhance content during the writing process. Using a WYSIWYG editor within WordPress is perhaps the easiest way to develop site content. You can even preview your posts and pages before publishing them. Once the posts are published they can be edited and organize at a later date.
What are CMS plugins?
What is SSL?
SSL, or Secure Socket Layer, is a security protocol used to protect data as it is transmitted between devices on the Internet.
SSL certificates indicate the presence of this technology being used by a website. Most online shoppers will not shop at your site unless you have an SSL certificate.
What is FTP?
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client is a simple program that connects your computer’s hard drive to your web server. These programs are often used to upload or download large quantities of data to or from the web server to the user’s computer.
FTP clients like FileZilla and CuteFTP are some of the most popular FTP clients on the web.
What is SPAM?
Spam is defined as overwhelming or fraudulent web mail or web site commenting that is meant to overload a system, annoy a site owner, or ruin the content of a web site. If a web site is not properly moderated it can quickly be overrun with spam of all types. Spam affects your online efforts because it wastes time as you try to clear it from your web site or inbox.
Most spammers will post spam comments on your posts, causing your web pages to become inundated with spam, which can be difficult to get rid of. Other spammers will send you a lot of emails through the contact us form of your web site. Fortunately, there are tools within your web hosting account that can prevent spam from accumulating. If you are experiencing an influx of spam then you may want to contact your web hosting company to enquire about ways to prevent it from happening again.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is a very commonly used term in the web hosting industry. Search engine optimization is basically the practice of optimizing your web pages for higher search engine rankings. Being ranked highly for popular keywords in search engines is the best way to receive residual traffic with very little effort. Every web hosting account comes with tools that can help you tweak your search engine optimization efforts, such as traffic analysis tools and content management systems that simplify on-page SEO.
Why is SEO important?
What does the robots.txt file do?
The robots.txt file is a very important part of the way your site interacts with other sites, site visitors. and most importantly, search engines. The file dictates what computers can view your site. The reason why it is called the robots.txt file is that it is generally used to block robots from crawling and indexing your site.
Search engine robots crawl the web routinely, indexing every piece of data along the way. If your site is not ready for the search engines then you may want to edit your robots.txt file to block all robots. Some web hosting companies do not include a robots.txt file automatically, so it is up to you to create this basic text file. If you are having trouble creating or using your robots.txt file you should contact your web hosting support staff.