Hosting your website - no NOT a drinks party!
What is hosting?
Hosting is the computer space where you store your website or blog so it can be found on the internet. Some people may provide their own hosting on a computer they own and keep running 24 hours a day but that requires a lot of expertise, because you will have to cope with downtime (even computers can "go slow") and sometimes, they even break down or get subjected to attacks by viruses or trojans or even dedicated cyber attacks! So most people purchase (or rent) hosting from a dedicated hosting reseller. Hosting is just a space you rent (like a house or flat) and where you can store the files for your site. If your site is small, you might just need a one bed bedsitter home. For larger sites, you might need a flat or house or even a warehouse! Now I don't really mean that size of space, just trying to show you that some sites are small, others are bigger and may need more resources. Think of your hosting as a computer hard disk, somewhere that holds the files for your site and makes them available to the internet.
When do I need it?
You only need hosting if you are gong to upload your own hosted web site to the internet. No, you don't need it if you are going to create a blog or web site of your own on one of the free websites, like weebly or blogger or lycos or one of the very many other free sites available. Many of the free sites will provide you with templates to use that will help you create a great site or blog BUT being free, it can be taken down with no warning and no comeback! If you want to write something controversial or upload articles from sites that provide "easy" articles on various subjects, then you may find your site or blog being banned or disappearing and all your work down the drain! On the other hand, those sites are promoted by their suppliers, so you will get some help with SEO (search engine optimisation) that will help your site to be found. Where you host your site is your choice. Free is good but can disappear. Easy content is good but isn't liked on "free" sites. Free sites help you get started and are much less work for you. You just have to write.
Where do I get it?
There are a great many hosting options available from very cheap (but still good) to quite expensive. Some possible hosting resellers are hostgator, bluehost and indianets. There are many others.
What can I put on my hosting?
Depending on the kind and size of hosting you have and their rules, you may be able to put one site (or blog) or many sites (or blogs), or a mixture. For instance, if you decide to start out in the widget niche and decide to go for something on purple dotted widgets, and buy a domain name like mypurpledottedwidgets.com (not taken, at the moment, just checked but it MAY get taken), then you tell your chosen host that you will be "mypurpledottedwidgets.com" and they will set up your hosting on that name. Later, you may decide to write about bluestripywidgets and buy the bluestripywidgets.com domain name. If you have bought a large enough hosting package, you will be able to add this site on with no extra cost (apart from purchasing the domain name). With a big enough hosting package you could add on several more websites or blogs on the same hosting.
Many hosts will tell you that you CANNOT store extra files on the site, except for those related to the sites you are running. I think some people may have been using hosting as a cheap (or maybe hidden) way of storing files away from their computer! Files related to your sites are fine
How does it link with a domain name ?
Once you have bought your hosting and told the hosting company your domain name, they will set up your space on their server. It may take about 24 hours, sometimes much less. Then you go back into your domain name reseller and point your domain name to the hosting server. This "pointing" can take about 24 hours to "propagate" throughout the internet. This means that the internet will be able to find your site. When you buy your domain name, your domain name reseller puts up a page that says "sorry folks, too late. This domain name has just been purchased by our client. There will soon be a great site here!" or words to that effect. Once your site is ready on your host, you point the domain name away from the "sorry folks, too late" page to your site or blog. 24 hours later, everyone can see your great new site.
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