2. Arrange Hosting
What It Is:
“Hosting,” refers to physical placement of your site on a computer connected to the Internet and associated support to make your web site accessible, secure, and operable as designed.
The hosting service, sometimes called an ISP (Internet Service Provider) maintains a physically secure facility, technical staff and powerful computers with high speed connections to the internet in what is called a “data center.”
While you may never see them or even realize they are present, hosting services customarily maintain a stable of programs which interact with your web page to make it do what it does; for example, pipeline your customer feedback into a database for you to use. The host also provides you with email addresses and programs to read email, statistics on visitors, and other measures of site activity.
Just as you might rent office space from a landlord, you rent “server space” from the host. Typically, the cost for hosting of basic websites that require no special interactive elements (such as large databases or media functions) is very reasonable; as little as $10 a month. The service you receive is expressed principally in terms of capacity (how much hard drive space your site takes up) and “bandwidth,” which is a measure of how much data flows to and from your site. The capacity is usually 10 gigabytes (GB) or more, and the bandwidth may range from 10 to 50 GB per month depending on the service. When the site exceeds that (which should not happen unless there is unforeseen extremely heavy use) you pay for the difference and/or upgrade to a bigger hosting plan.
The hosting service we use, and the one we recommend, is LunarPages. Impressed as we are with the low cost -$8 a month- we were most assured by service availability and competence because, when something doesn’t work, it needs to be fixed. Where would you be, for example, if the telephone stopped working? Same idea.
Another reason we selected LunarPages is that they are a good fit with the various levels of technical involvement our EZBiz customers want. Those who want EZBiz or another “webmaster” to handle site administration and updates, need never be more involved with LunarPages than to pay hosting fees. Those who want direct involvement may administer their web site through LunarPages interfaces or from software on their own computer; the customer decides.
Web Site names, such as “www.ezbizwebsite.com” are “domains” which are registered to their owners (that would be you) for a fee that is sometimes waived by the hosting service. Registering a domain name is more than just hanging out a shingle; it is your actual address out there on the ‘net -the way the Internet knows how to connect people with your site. Obviously, registering your domain is an essential step to having a web site up and running, and you may secure the registration at any time prior to putting up your web site. In fact, it is usually a good idea to register the domain somewhat in advance of implementing the site, so that the domain name and details of connecting to it will have time to “propagate” across the Internet; that is, time to update all the servers on the ‘net with information about your site. Think of it as the time it takes for directory assistance to know about your new phone number after you initiate service.
Establishing your domain name can be fun, because it is really like thinking up a name for a new business; it should be unique yet memorable. You may browse the registration database at any time to see if the name you want is available. Generally, every site that provides this service is also very ready to SELL you the registration, but you may look and not buy -not yet, anyway. If you would like to play with a few names, click the link appearing at the bottom of this page to register.com that will take you to a window where you can try out various combinations. You will also see a “Whois” link there which will tell you who owns and operates a web site and where it is hosted. Try it out for a web site you already know. As a matter of convenience it is probably better to secure the domain name from the hosting service when you sign up for a hosting plan. If your web site is not ready at that time, a temporary placeholder will carry a notice to that effect.
Learning About the LunarPages Host:
You may want to spend some time on the LunarPages web site to familiarize yourself with it prior to actually arranging hosting there. Click www.lunarpages.com to learn about their service.
The 2 Steps You Can Do NOW:
You should take 2 steps prior to actually setting up hosting to make the hosting setup and subsequent management much smoother. You can do both of the following NOW without committing yourself to any expenditure or any future course of action.
If you don’t already have one, obtain a free email address from a big public email provider such as Yahoo. Your hosting service will need it so they can contact you outside of your hosted domain.
Check and make a note of domain name availability at register.com. You’ll need this when you set up hosting later. (If the name is taken when you set up hosting, you’ll be able to search for alternatives as part of the setup process.)