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What exactly is a "Web Host"? We will be needing a website to be created. It must have the ability to handle large volume product sales. We will have an office and wharehouse staff but we need a company to keep up this site and also to update it very often....Is that the function of a web host? .... as you can see i know very little about this topic and can use any info you might have.... thanks.... herbie
 

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Here's an explanation that I had written for someone else on this topic. Hope you find it useful. It was in an email so was better formatted and easir to view.

DOMAIN NAME:

As you know, for a site, you need a domain name and server space. A domain name is registered with ICANN through any of its registrars (or their resellers). There are plenty of registrars and resellers.

Along with each domain name there are certain information (name, address, etc.) attached. Most important is DNS servers. At least 2 DNS (Domain Name Servers) are specified. DNS specifies where a site is hosted. Each server has their own set of DNS addresses. For example, dns1.somehostingprovider.com and dns2.somehostingprovider.com. You need to enter them with your domain.

Each time you want to change hosting provider, you need to change these DNS servers associated with the domain name. For that to do, you need to control the domain name (with a username and a password). Consequently, whoever controls the domain name, can change DNS at any time. Here lies the catch.

If you control the domain name, no site hosting service provider can hold you to ransom. In case of a problem, you can find a new hosting provider, change the DNS servers associated with the domain and within 48 hours visitors to your site will be directed to the new server. Of course you will have to upload the files to your new server.

If some one else controls the domain name, he can change the DNS servers and that may leave you in a lurch. If this person starts diverting your visitors to a porn site, your reputation suffers. (There have been cases like this.).

FREE-DOMAIN TRICK:
Hosting providers giving free domain names, have an ace up their sleeves. Its a trick to prevent dis-satisfied clients from going away anywhere else in the future. Not only they control the domain, they at times even register the domain in their own names. The reason being, its a free thing that they gave you as long as you continue with their service. They may even refuse to transfer the domain name to you. If its a premium domain name (or becomes one in the future), they are the gainers. You can't leave them or else you will lose business and goodwill. Nothing is free, everything has its costs. And when the costs are hidden, they are heavier.

For example, assume that e-bay.com or amazon.com is my client. 10 years back I had registered the domain name for free with a hosting package. Since it was free, it was gratuitous and I registered it in my name. As of now it doesn't affect them in any way because relations are cordial. In future, I increase my hosting charges to 10 times. They refuse. I change DNS for e-bay, host it elsewhere and start re-directing it to a porn site. It will take me only 10 minutes to do this (it takes upto 48 hours to take effect). They can't do anything immediately. All legal processes will take at least some time. Till then the whole world will know that e-bay is now redirecting to a porn site.

Consider all this worst case possibilities and prevent them. Register the domain name on your own using your credit card. Crux of the matter is that you must control your domain name. It is only one in the whole world and it is closely associated with your online identity.

For registering, you can go to NetworkSolutions, Register (most expensive, both charges $35 a year), or GoDaddy or any other registrar. As I said earlier, there are plenty of them.

If you feel comfortable (especially now!!), I can register the domain name for you at US $ 10 per year. If you need a separate account with username and password to control the domain, it will be about US $ 12 per year. I am a reseller.

HOSTING:
Where ever you host your site, you need special controls to change and update the contents. That is why you need a username and a password.

To see what you can do with your hosting account, you can go to [DEMO ACCOUNT LINK DELETED FOR THIS POST] On entering the username and password correctly, you will see a page that will let you control your site. You can make more email addresses, update pages, create FTP accounts, use the readymade scripts, etc. You need to spend some time there to see what you can do. You can also have a look at their documentation. Look for the link on the same page.

Click on the File Manager link to open it up. Here you will see the directory structure. index.htm file located in public_html folder is the one that gets loaded when someone types www.yourdomainname.com in his browser. Thats the face of your site. All navigation within the site stars from this page.
 

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To let everyone view your site, you have to place some files on a set of computer that is specially configured (more powerful and capable of handling many connections at the same time) and is connected to the net 24 hours a day.

It is called server. Since it is far better configured and needs to remain connected forever, there are high running costs. So server space is given on hire in the chunk of a few MB to many GB space.

Putting your files there is hosting.

I hope these two posts do not confuse you more.
 
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