Have you ever wondered how your computer manages to find the website you have typed in your browser’s web address bar or how your emails actually reach the person you are sending them to? In this tutorial, we will discuss what domain names are and how they work, as well as what web hosting is, and how to purchase a domain name and hosting provider for your website.
Every time you visit a web page or send an email, you are using something called a domain name. For example, a web address such as http://www.webassist.com or email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org contains the domain name webassist.com. Domain names are great for us humans because they make it easy for us to remember web or e-mail addresses; however, this isn’t the case for computers. In fact your computer doesn’t like human-readable names at all – instead it prefers to work with numbers.
While it may appear that when you visit your favorite web address, your computer is using the domain name to find that site, under the hood it is using something called an IP address. An IP address looks like a series of numbers and decimal points. Whether you realize it or not, every computer that is connected to the Internet uses an IP address.
In order to find the website or email address you are trying to reach, your computer enlists the assistance of something called a Domain Name Server (DNS). The Domain Name Server converts the domain name – such as webassist.com – into an IP address and then contacts other Domain Names Servers to find out where the domain webassist.com can be found.
Each Domain Name Server has a list of Root Domain Name Servers and will contact the first on the list to try and locate the domain name you are looking for. If this Root Domain Name Server does not know the IP address, it will then ask the next on the list and so on; if the domain name cannot be found then it will return an error message.
Typically (though not always) your Domain Name is held by the company your website is hosted with.
Before any of your site visitors can see your website, you must first make it available to the World Wide Web. To do this, you have to transfer your site to a computer (known as a Web Server) that is permanently connected to the Internet.
Web Hosting is the act of renting space and bandwidth through a company so that your website may be viewed by anyone connected to the Web.
Virtually all Internet Service Providers offer packages that include Domain Name registration as well as domain name and Web hosting. The easiest way for obtaining both of these, is to do it at the same time. Most hosting providers will give the opportunity to choose a domain name for your website, when you purchase a hosting package.
If you already have a hosting package, obtaining a new domain can be accomplished via a web-based Control Panel provided to you by your hosting provider. The Control Panel is a web hosting administration tool that enables you to manage your website, create a new domain name, as well as add new e-mail addresses or change your website password online; all without you having to contact your hosting company’s technical support team.
Once you purchase a new domain it will be added to your hosting package; typically within a 12 to 24 hour period.
Trying to choose which company you should host your website with can be a daunting task, especially if you are just starting out. When it comes to web hosting there are two options:
Free Web hosting
Virtually all free web hosts impose advertising on your website and limit the amount of disk space available. Moreover if you do decide to host with a free hosting company you should watch out for file type and size limitations as well as speed of access. Those who are considering professional web development, should probably not consider a free hosting solution.
Commercial Web hosting
When choosing a commercial web host, it is important to ensure that the company provides all the services and facilities you require. For example, how much disk space and bandwidth do you have available? Does the company’s technical support function all year round? Also, if you are planning to include a shopping cart, does your hosting company provide you with a Secure Server (SSL), etc.
If you are in the process of looking for a hosting company, you might want to consider 1&1 Internet Web hosting. 1&1 is the world’s largest web host with offices in the US, Germany, UK, France, Philippines, Spain, Romania and Austria.
1&1 hosting packages include all the features you will need to get started as a professional web developer. You will first be provided with an opportunity to search for an available domain that you like. Then, choose from a number of different hosting packages to find the one that includes everything you need. Once you sign up, you’ll gain access to a variety of tools for managing your server and database, and for uploading your website.
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