Hosting a web site is a fairly straightforward procedure, but first-time
are often confused by this process. This article provides a simple
introduction to web hosting, and explains the various steps required to
place your web site on the Internet.
Understanding IP Addresses
Multiple computers connected together at the same location are
known as a Local Area Network, or LAN. Multiple LANs
connected over remote connections are known as a Wide Area
Network, or WAN. In simple terms, the Internet is essentially an
expanding collection of interconnected
As with any network, everything on the Internet needs to have its
own unique identity. This is achieved using IP addresses. An IP
address comprises of 4 blocks of numbers, each from 1 to 255, separated by
periods (i.e. 188.8.131.52). This method provides for around 4.2 billion unique
Hosting Your Web Site
Hosting providers own a range of IP addresses. When you sign up for
your hosting plan you receive your own unique IP
address from within this range. Your IP address corresponds to your
own public hosting area, called your domain, so when someone enters your IP address into their web
browser they will arrive directly at your domain. For example, the IP
address for fastvirtual.com is 184.108.40.206. If you type this into
your browser's address bar, you will arrive at this web site.
Note: In order to reduce costs, budget hosting providers
often share single IP
addresses across multiple customers. While this may provide a more affordable
option, it should be noted that black lists and spam filters use IP
addresses to identify offenders. Therefore, sharing an IP address with
other web sites could result in an innocent site being penalized,
blocked, or black listed along with the offending site, so always check
to make sure your hosting service includes your own dedicated IP address.
At this stage, your hosting service is fully functional. However, providing an IP address as your web site URL is not
user-friendly. This is where domain names come in.
Domains and Subdomains
When you add a hosting service you specify either a domain name
(i.e. yourname.com), or a subdomain name (i.e. yourname.fastvirtual.com)
that should be associated with your IP address. This relationship is
then stored on the hosting provider's name servers. Queries for your
domain or subdomain name are then automatically resolved to your IP
Subdomains are under the authority of the parent domain, so the
name server record is all that is required for subdomain names to
function correctly. Domain names are on the public domain, so need to
be independently registered. This is a separate service.
Registering Your Domain Name
By registering a domain name, you purchase the right to use the
name for a specified term. Domain names can currently be registered
from 1 to 10 years, depending on the extension. Your ownership must be
renewed before the term expires, or the domain name will again be made
available to the public.
Domain names include a DNS (Domain Name System) entry, where you
specify the location of the name servers that should resolve the name
into an IP address. DNS entries usually point to the registrar's name
servers by default, but this can be easily changed to point to any 3rd
party name server.
You are not required to register your domain name and host your web
site through the same provider. Simply
contact your hosting provider for details of their name servers (usually ns1.providername.com and ns2.providername.com) and
enter this into your domain name DNS record. DNS changes usually take 24-48 hours to filter through the various DNS
servers across the Internet.
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