How to host a website?

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To host a website, you need a domain name, a server to host the website, and then to bind them together.
Hosting for newbies can be included in these easy 4 steps:

  1. Choose a domain name.
  2. Order a web hosting account.
  3. Bind the domain name and the hosting server.
  4. Build and upload the web site.

1- Choose a domain name:

A domain name is the URL you write in the browser to visit/browse a website, like yahoo.com, which may be a little bit different from the website name.

The website name maybe be a full company name for example, but the URL itself can be an easy word to remember it quickly and easily.

After you choose your domain name, you have to register it, this is done by many companies for average cost about $10 USD, the most famous companies in this field are:
Register.com: Get your business ready for the New Year - Domain and Email package starting at $9.99 per year

You need to choose a unique domain name which no one else registered before you.
Almost all registrars, the technical name for domain name companies, provides an availability check to make sure that the chosen domain name is available for you to register.

Some companies combine the domain name registry and hosting services, they often offer a package with a competitive price for newbies, it is a good option, in my point of view, to get to know your way in this new world.


2- Order a web hosting account:

The hosting companies are selling spaces on a computer with specific software installed on it, this is called a web server, which responds to your request when you press the enter button after writing the URL in a browser address bar, the response is the content you read on the screen.

Hosting companies can be distinguished by number of features advertised on their websites, the most important among these features are:

  • Disk Space: This is measured in MB or GB, and it determines how many websites you can host in your account.
  • Bandwidth: It is the amount of data that can be sent from your web server to the visitors computers of your website per month; this is important figure because your website will not respond to visitors if this figure is exceeded until the next month beginning.
  • Operating System: Windows or Linux? each OS has its pros and cons, although Linux servers are cheaper and more popular than Windows servers.
  • Database and scripting languages: for example MySQL & PHP, these are required for the most famous scripts used to build dynamic websites, you don't need them if your site is static.
  • Domains Allowed: How many domain names can be hosted on the web server.
  • Money Back Guarantee: The period within which you can try the service and get your money if you are not satisfied.
  • Control Panel: It is a web application, can be accessed online and provided by the hosting company to manage your hosting account, this enables you to upload your website, create needed databases, add domain names, install scripts, create email accounts...etc. The most famous control panels are CPanel and Plesk, I recommend CPanel because its easier and more popular than Plesk, therefore you can migrate to another company easily, if you find that you need to move to another one.

The most famous hosting companies are:
SiteGround: Web Hosting Crafted For Top Website Performance & Satisfaction (Free Domain Included)

GreenGeeks: Optimized Hosting, Enhanced Security and 24/7 Expert Support (Free Domain Included)

3- Bind the domain name and the hosting server:

The domain name alone will not respond with any content, you have to make it point to the hosting server on which your website is running.
To do this, the hosting company sends to you an email with all the information required to access and manage your account, one of this information is the name servers, they are 2 IPs, or in most cases 2 URLs in the format ns1.domainname.com and ns2.domainname.com
You will go to your domain name registrar and find where to change the name servers for your domain name, then copy the above 2 values and paste them into their corresponding fields in the domain name control panel.
This update needs some time to propagate over the Internet, maximum 48 hrs, and normally it takes few hrs to propagate.
While you are waiting for the name servers update to spreed, you can access your website using the IP address emailed to you from the hosting provider.

Web Hosting

4- Build and upload the website:

Websites now are dynamic, i.e. the content is generated on the fly based on the URL requested by the visitor, a lot of ready made frameworks are available now, by which you can build your dynamic websites, whatever the purpose of your site, don't worry you will find a lot of ready frameworks to build it.
Most of them are build using the famous couple PHP&MySQL, therefore if your server support them, you can run any website you imagine.
Examples for the most famous frameworks:
WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, PHPNuke... etc.

After building the website, upload it to the server using FTP, to the document root directory/folder, its common name is httpdocs or public_html.

Important tips to follow when buying domains or hosting spaces:

  • Make sure to register the domain yourself, with your information, because some companies are offering to register the domain for you, and this can be a problem when you decide to move to another company, then they will refuse to transfer the domain name for you and you will lose it and its popularity.
  • The technical support is very important for newbies, so make sure the company has a proffessional tech. support team, and their average response time is less than an hour.

 Let me know your thoughts about this artcile in the comments section below.

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Mohamed Abdelaziz

Joomla and PHP developer since 2006, working as freelancer to develop and customize Joomla extensions. Technically reviewed the books: Joomla! 2.5 Beginner's Guide and Joomla! 3 Beginner's Guide for Packt Publishing.

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