Websites & Webhosting Basics
Warning: If you're an IT Guru, you will find these explanations simplistic.
This is basic information for any business people who want some demystification of the concepts that they pay for.
What Websites Are
Every website is made of:
- software = instructions to computers (make the website work), and
- digitised data (words, pictures, sound).
All the links, fancy fonts, gyrating graphics and the rest are just digitised commands and data - 0's and 1's, if you recall binary arithmetic.
Websites Live on Web Servers: Webhosting
Software and digital data work on computers. So a website needs to reside on (be hosted on) a computer.
That computer needs to be specially set up to host websites.
A computer that hosts websites is called a web server. Normally, a web server hosts many websites.
Your website can be hosted anywhere in the world, even if your business is in Australia.
The web server needs to run - and remain connected to the Internet - 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Webhosting: Price vs Value
When you compare webhosting prices, be aware that:
- there are different ways to host websites. Some methods are more secure, faster and more reliable than others;
- there is little standard terminology, but much hype in advertising;
- there is a big difference between webhosting and managed webhosting.
SuttonNet is a managed webhosting provider at the high-service end.
Our clients do nothing to ensure that their websites run fast 24/7, every day of the year.
They reckon paying us to do that is:
- more profitable
- less stressful
- more effective, and
- frees them to spend time on the business they know best.
- nearly 20 years' industry experience
- personal phone/email support
- email hosting on your own domain. Some webhosting providers only permit generic email addresses such as Gmail, not addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org.
We select our servers and hosting protocols for speed and security, eg:
- cloud server
- fast solid state hard drive
- high redundancy: if your website has lots of visitors, it needn't slow down
- we work with long established, reliable server companies.
Website Name & Address
Each website has:
- a name - its domain name or URL, eg suttonnet.com.au; and
- a location - the server that hosts it has an IP address. You don't usually see this information. An IP address looks like a series of numbers and full stops.
A website's name is also referred to as its 'web address'.
Various IP numbers are allocated to different countries; so the IP address for a website indicates the nationality of the web server that hosts it. But the business owning the website might not even operate in that country.
Browsers & the Internet
Humans almost anywhere on this planet can locate websites, via their computer or mobile phone. This happens (or should happen) very quickly.
- software on your device, so that you can give commands that let you find a website, move from one webpage to another, fill in online forms etc. That software is your web browser (eg Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome);
- a physical connection between your device (phone, tablet etc), and the server (computer) which hosts the website. That connection is the Internet, aka the world wide web (WWW).
The Internet is a mixture of:
- cables of various size, quality and capacity
- wireless signals and antennas
- satellites and their signals
- mobile phone networks (towers, repeaters); and
- connecting computers called routers and servers. They act like junctions in a very complex railway system. They make sure that:
when you type in a request (eg suttonnet.com.au ) - the right bundle of digital information (that's the website itself) - gets onto the right track (cable, etc) - to get where it needs to (your computer).
When it all works perfectly, you see SuttonNet's website, not the Moscow weather forecast.
Internet Service Provider
An Internet Service Provider (ISP) (eg Telstra Bigpond) literally provides the physical connection between the Internet and your home, office or mobile device for you to have access to Internet services, eg:
- connect to your own website and other websites;
- send or receive email.
It's still a 'physical' connection, even if you're using a mobile phone or other wireless Internet access. The connection is invisible (like radio waves).
Is There a Problem?
If things go wrong (your website is down, your emails don't arrive), there could be a glitch anywhere in the complex system that connects your website to the Internet.
SuttonNet is usually our clients' first point of contact.
Even if it's not our problem, we can often identify the trouble, and help fix it or refer you to someone who can.