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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a “dedicated server”?
A dedicated server is simply that you control the entire server. In a web hosting environment, oftentimes you are in charge of only a single account, and the system administrator must make all changes for you.
What is web hosting?
Web hosting is the placement of a website on the internet for viewing. Web hosting can be any kind of placement, but the preferred method for businesses is commercial web hosting, where one utilizes a domain name of their own (i.e. something.com) to be easily found. Many small businesses have used alternate web hosting in the past (i.e. http://www.somedomain.com/businessname/), however, the costs associated with purchasing commercial-class web hosting and enterprise web hosting have decreased dramatically.
Larger companies and corporations often have their own in-house web hosting, run by the IT staff, however most businesses have little need for this measure, as the price of shared web hosting (as well as its reliability) reveals a dramatic contrast between the relatively expensive in-house web hosting and utilizing a web hosting provider.
Often, your hosted site will be packed onto a server that has already been filled past capacity, and you will receive very little (if any) support for your websites. Managed hosting is a state in which your site is placed on a web server that has been limited to far fewer sites, and is watched to ensure that abusive users are dealt with in proper fashion.
Shared web hosting is the act of having many web sites on one machine, with independent domain names for each web site. Shared web hosting has driven the costs associated with web hosting down to a level that the average startup, the average individual, the average small business can afford to utilize web hosting services with little or no economic encumbrance. In previous years, bandwidth was expensive, and many were pushed into purchasing their own server rack space for astronomical rates (often exceeding $3,000 at a time), as well as the relatively expensive charges for a domain name from Network Solutions, to have their web site hosted on the Internet -- thus, alternate web hosting was used frequently as an affordable alternative.
Thankfully, through shared web hosting, the cost for placing a website on the Internet has become far less than in previous days. Larger servers with astronomical amounts of RAM, multiple processors, and large hard disks for the same price as personal computers were 10 years ago have made it feasible for web hosting costs to drop significantly, and more web sites can be hosted in one location.
A domain name is a name which points to a computer on the Internet, or a large group of computers on the Internet. One consists of the top level domain (i.e. .com, .net, .org, .info, etc...) and the primary domain (i.e. 1FastHost.com's primary domain name is 1FastHost). A domain name is a necessity for commercial-class web hosting, and makes it easier for someone to find your company on the internet.
These days, since Network Solutions has had its monopoly on domain names dissolved, you can purchase domain names for relatively low prices on a one-time payment per year. Individuals are purchasing their own domain names and web hosting to display private sites on the Internet.
To purchase a domain name, you must go through a domain name registrar.
A domain name registrar is an entity through which you may purchase a domain name. Such include Go Daddy for example. We are not affiliated with Go Daddy in any manner. We do however utilize the service and can recommend as reliable, customer friendly and offering good service at a fair price.
SSL is Secure Sockets Layer, which is an encryption transport method. If you wish to have a web site that requests personal information such as credit cards, social security numbers, or even full names and addresses, then you will need to have a web hosting provider with SSL. To use SSL effectively, you must have an SSL certificate.
An SSL certificate allows your web site to be "signed" by you as well as a trusted authority, as a certification that the content is encrypted and is actually authorized by you or your company. In web hosting, your site can accept credit cards and other transactions with the assurance to your customer that their information is not sent in a way that is readable by anyone but them and you.
There are many places to purchase SSL certificates, ranging from inexpensive to very expensive.
The process for purchasing an SSL certificate involves verification as to who you are, so identity theft and service hijacking are extremely difficult to perpetrate.
Many locations on the Internet who offer web hosting do not allow certain content on their websites, such as pornography and graphic language. Adult web hosting has fewer restrictions, and allows such sites as pornography sites, nudist colony websites, autopsy websites, and "rant" or personal editorial sites which use graphic and descriptive language. These web hosting companies typically are either advocates for free speech (we are free speech advocates), or are themselves pornographers. However On Equal Grounds does not provide hosting for websites carrying sexually explicit materials.
Aside from being a luncheon meat that tastes great fried, spam is a nickname for the bane of the internet users' and system administrators' existance: unsolicited email. There are methods by which it can be blocked temporarily, however, it is almost certainly unavoidable after all is said and done. That said, we do support the death penalty for spammers.
A mail server takes information which you send to someone and relays it to its location. Also, a mail server stores incoming information in either specific files or directories (or even databases) for someone to access with an email client. In web hosting, mail is allocated virtually, allowing Joe Klein on example.com to have firstname.lastname@example.org, and Joe Harris on example2.com to have email@example.com on the same mail server.
POP3 is Post Office Protocol version 3. This is the normal mail server for mail client readers in web hosting. While extraordinarily reliable, the default is to send everything in plain text rather than encrypted, so your information can potentially be read in transit. Many (if not most) web hosting companies have this option as well as POP3-SSL, which encrypts the information in transit.
For more technical information, you may wish to browse through RFC1939 for details.
IMAP is the Internet Mail Access Protocol. This is another mail server type that web hosting companies provide for mail client readers to access their email. Unlike POP3, IMAP is typically used to hold mail on the server for reading rather than deleting the mail after it has been received by the mail client, and in this respect, is often used in offices. Web hosting companies offer this feature, though no matter who you are with, you may wish to make certain that you keep a backup of mails which you wish to keep.
For more technical information, you may wish to browse through RFC2060 for details.
Webmail is the use of a web page or web site at a web hosting company or mail provider in order to access your email through a web-based interface. Free mail providers like Hotmail and Yahoo are well known for these. Unfortunately, they no longer will protect you from viruses as they once did, as exploitable security holes in Microsoft's well-known Internet Explorer have provided mechanisms by which browsing Windows NT and Windows 2000 based websites and/or email sent through Microsoft Outlook can infect your computer.
SMTP is Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, a method by which mail clients may send mail to other mail users on remote computer systems. Many web hosting companies allow use of SMTP servers (such as sendmail, qmail, and Microsoft Exchange) for their clients. To prevent spammers (unsolicited commercial email senders) from using the system externally, the mail method is based on authentication, so unauthorized users (i.e. people who are not web hosting clients for that company) may not send email through the SMTP server.
Internet Service Providers have an easier route, as they can allow and deny based on the IP address of the user, to tell whether or not the user is on their network.
An IP address is an Internet Protocol address, which is a unique identifier of every entity, or host, on the Internet. IPv4 (the current standard) consists of four octets (segments of numbers which have a maximum value of 255 decimal, or 1000 octal) separated by periods. Web hosting providers typically offer virtual web hosting, in which multiple websites will have the same IP address, and are accessed by name; you also often have the option of purchasing an IP address should you need to have direct IP access to your web site, use an SSL certificate, or have anonymous FTP access.
DNS is Domain Name Service, which translates your domain and its sub-domains into IP addresses. This allows you to type in www.somedomainname.com, and it connects you to the website by address. A metaphorical example of this is that you're going to Bob's house, which is at 2136 Falcon Terrace Drive. You connect Bob's house to 2136 Falcon Terrace Drive in the same manner that you connect your domain name to an IP address.
In web hosting, each domain allocated to a server is translated to an IP address in order for it to be viewable to the outside world. Sometimes this is virtual web hosting, sometimes it is IP-based web hosting.
Virtual web hosting is where multiple web sites use the same IP address. When your web browser connects to that IP address, it sends a "Host" header which sends your browser the appropriate pages you wish to view. Virtual web hosting is one of the methods that have driven down web hosting costs in the last few years.
FTP is File Transfer Protocol, one of the oldest server protocols, a method for transferring (uploading and downloading) materials over the Internet. In web hosting, you often use FTP to publish your website to the Internet.
For more technical information, you may wish to browse through RFC959 for details.
HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, which is the primary language of the web. It is a document markup language, rather than a formatting language, so each user-agent (known commonly as a web browser) can render the information how the user sees fit. Recently, HTML has been altered in such a way as to allow for more control over formatting.
Often, those who do not know HTML may utilize such programs as Microsoft FrontPage, IBM's WebSphere Builder, or Dreamweaver. These solutions typically work perfectly with whatever web hosting you wish to use.
For more technical information, you may wish to take a look at the W3's website for more information.
FrontPage extensions allow web hosting users using Microsoft FrontPage to publish and manipulate their files on the Internet. This is a highly unreliable method, however, for light, simple work, it is sufficient.
SSH is the Secure SHell, a remote administration tool for UNIX-based systems and others. It is the encrypted, secure form of telnet. Many web hosting providers offer this by request, but it is only necessary if you need to use the special commands that you can only execute on the web server itself. Web hosting providers also provide this function for SCP, which transfers files from your computer to your website through SSH.
On a standard UNIX-based system, permissions tell the system who is allowed to access a file, and by what manner. There are three types of permissions: read, write, and execute, and three places which they can be applied: user, group, and other. In web hosting, permissions apply almost exclusively to CGI scripts, which need to have permissions of (octal) 755, rwxr-xr-x, or the user can read/write/and execute the file, the group can read and execute the file, and others can read and execute the file. The suexec module for Apache (commonly used in web hosting) makes certain that CGI scripts are owned exclusively by the site's owner's login as well as group, and that the group and other users cannot write to the file.
Apache is web server software, the most popular among web hosting companies on UNIX-based platforms, which is extremely flexible and powerful. It allows modules to be used in order to do almost anything. The best documentation is on Apache's website.
UNIX is an operating system that was developed originally at Bell Labs in New Jersey, and based on MULTICS, which is a defunct operating system with superior design. UNIX has extraordinary uptime, power, and flexibility, and is utilized on everything from smart toasters to massive supercomputers that the US government built with alien technology (just kidding about the alien technology). UNIX is one of the best choices for web hosting because of its power, flexibility, ability to handle extremely heavy loads, and ability to manage several hundred users at a time without locking up or causing unusual and unpredictable problems.
Linux is a UNIX clone built by Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki as a replacement for MINIX, an operating system written by Prof. Andrew Tannenbaum, in general workstation use. Linux's primary target was the Intel x86 platform, but has been ported (changed to work on) many other systems over the years. Due to its low price tag (free) and its flexible nature (fully modifiable under the GNU Public License), as well as its combination with the GNU tools, it has become a standard of power and flexibility in the computing world. Web hosting companies typically use Linux exclusively, as the software is free and the hardware is generally low priced. Linux has driven down the costs of web hosting to a point where it is extraordinarily reasonable price wise.
A database is a collection of information. This can be a loose conglomeration of information, such as your purse, or a massively well-organized structure for storing data, such as something that has only been imagined. In the computing and web hosting world, a database is a collection of information stored in a manner which is suitable for using either with the human eye, or with a program.
SQL stands for Structured Query Language, which is a methodology for accessing a database through language calls. In web hosting, SQL servers are used for their speed, reliability, and flexibility.
MySQL is a SQL server which is available from MySQL AB (their home page). It is known for its web-friendliness and power, and low resource usage, as well as speed. Very, very popular among web hosting companies and users alike.
Microsoft Access databases are not reliable enough for usage in web hosting. As a side factor, accessing them requires either jumping through enormous hoops, or using Windows NT/2000 web servers.
Perl stands for Practical Extraction and Report Language, which was developed by Larry Wall, a master C programmer (now, naturally, a master Perl programmer as well). Its power, flexibility, and cross-platform compatibility (even to some degree extending to Microsoft Windows-based systems) have made it a prime choice for programming. As a scripting language, it is very popular in web hosting and web sites which utilize dynamic content rather than static pages. You can find more information about Perl at Perl's main website.
PHP stands for PHP: Hypertext Processor, which was developed by Zend. Powerful and flexible, PHP is the choice of many web hosting companies for many types of programming tasks executed on the server side.
SSI stands for Server Side Includes, a standard for processing information on the server end for usage by web browsers and web site users which dates back to the days of the NCSA HTTP server. Typically, it is used for small bouts of dynamic content. It has been very popular over the years in the web hosting industry for outputting dynamic content, as well as its ease of use. Currently, however, it has mostly fallen to the wayside in favor of PHP and ASP. Many web hosting providers still utilize SSI on their own sites, and many older sites that have not made major changes in the last few years still have SSI content.
Apache::ASP is a Perl-based version of Microsoft Active Server pages, made for UNIX-based and Apache-based systems. Provided by many web hosting companies.
A control panel, in the web hosting sense, is a program that allows users and administrators alike to modify their web hosting preferences, change such items as mail settings and DNS settings, and configure web hosting options.
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