Web Hosting and Domain Names

by Daniel Moisyeyev, B. IT – GWP Media

Eventually, every business owner will have to register a domain name and apply for a web hosting account. These services are a source of much confusion – and they can also grind your business to a halt if you are not careful with choosing your service provider.

Domain Name Registration
The first step is to register a domain name. Here are some key points to ensure you take the right steps:

• Always use a reputable Australian-based domain name registrar. Saving a few pennies by using an overseas registrar is riskier and may lead to issues when you need to update your domain name information. Lack of customer service is the most common problem that arises with the use of overseas providers.

• Do not register under an American top-level domain unless you have a valid reason. A “.com” domain will rank below local “.com.au” in search engines and will do you a disservice by misleading potential clients into thinking that your company is foreign.

• Always register a “com.au” top-level domain as the first priority and “.net.au” as a second choice. Do not register your business under “.org” unless you are a genuine not-for-profit venture and avoid top-level domains such as “.biz”. If your business is well established, it may be a good idea to register all common variants to prevent unscrupulous operators from passing off as your business.

• Ensure you have a trademark that matches your domain name by registering it with a reputable trademark attorney. You are always open to complaints from business owners with similar domains.

When you register a domain name, you only have one capability with your domain name registrar – to change the domain name servers. These domain name servers point to your web hosting provider, where they offer you a distinct service called Domain Name Hosting.

Web Hosting
The term Web Hosting includes a number of services:
• Domain Name Hosting/Parking
• Website Hosting
• Email Hosting
• Database Hosting

Domain Name Hosting is a necessary service that allows your domain name to resolve to specific servers. For example, this service is responsible for directing your domain to your mail server for receiving email.

Website Hosting is the service that allows your clients to see your website. Software applications such as Apache and Microsoft IIS allow this process to take place.

Email Hosting refers to the provider that handles your email. For example, Google (GMail and Google Apps) is a type of a separate email hosting provider. There are dedicated applications offered for this service – they include Microsoft Exchange and Sendmail.

Database Hosting is required by most websites that make use of Content Management Systems (CMS), Shopping Carts and Blogs. Database Hosting is offered by all web hosting providers. mySQL, Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle are some of the types of databases developers may use.

Shared Hosting
Shared hosting means that a single physical server is shared across a number of clients. The amount of client accounts allocated per physical server by the web hosting provider directly reflects how well your website will perform for your end users.

The amount of clients’ accounts per physical server is a result of a balance between the resources allocated to the physical server (e.g. processing power, bandwidth) and resource requirements for the particular accounts that will reside on it.

Unscrupulous web hosting providers can cram an obscene amount of accounts onto each server to ensure maximum profitability. This kind of practice is common with low-tier providers – this will have a negative effect on the performance of your website.

Virtual Private Server (VPS)

A Virtual Private Server is the next step up from shared web hosting. This service will allow your business to lease a portion of a physical server with dedicated resources allocated to your account.

Virtual Private Servers are separated from other customer accounts, hence you will never have the issue of a rogue web hosting account consuming resources, or worse – crashing applications on the server where your website resides. This situation is quite common.

Virtual Private Servers are significantly more expensive than shared web hosting accounts.

Dedicated Hosting
Dedicated hosting involves your business allocated a whole server in the web hosting provider’s data centre.

This option also guarantees the maximum in security and is also the most expensive type of web hosting you may purchase. Very few businesses will have a legitimate need for this service.

SSL Certificates
These certificates are an option that most web hosting providers offer you to purchase. They are issued by Certificate Authorities (CA) – a trusted third party.

They enable your website to carry out secure communication with end clients.

Their most common use is to secure credit card transactions for online shops.

Extensive information for this subject is available under topic “Public key cryptography”. Your web developer will let you know if you need to purchase one of these certificates during the course of website development.

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