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Web Hosting - Look Before You Leap
Companies that offer Internet-connected servers that provide space and bandwidth for a domain, for one or more web sites, are called Web Hosts. Large companies have private networks that allow them to host domains on their own equipment and IP address range. But for the majority of those who want an Internet presence, a 'rented' web host is a necessity.
There are a wide variety of hosting plans available. Some are free, others charge up to a $100 or more per month. Some provide nothing but a tiny amount of disk space and minimal network bandwidth. The web site owner is on his or her own for any thing else. Others offer a range of services, including server and email administration, backups, web site design assistance, troubleshooting and many others.
In the world of web hosting, you may often find yourself sharing a server with anywhere from one to a thousand or more other web sites. That allows the web hosting company to keep equipment and staff expenses lower. Many web sites are simple and low-volume enough that the arrangement works fine. When you or one or more of the others grow, it may be helpful to consider a dedicated server.
A dedicated server, as the name suggests, hosts only your domain. You can put one web site on it, or as many as you wish. You control the access. You may also, as an option, take over much of the server administration yourself. That may save you money on support costs, but cost you considerable time. If you don't have the expertise, you can end up costing yourself much more than you save.
In order to carry out those administrative functions yourself, even if you hire help, it's desirable to have some technical knowledge under your belt. Some of that knowledge will be useful, even for day-to-day tasks apart from dealing with emergencies. FTP, email administration, backup methods and other technical areas are among the more common areas you'll need to be at least somewhat familiar with.
When your web site grows to a certain size and level of complexity, you'll begin to find it worthwhile to look at implementing a database. But that brings with it a still higher level of ability, both technical and logistical or creative.
Implementing a database can be relatively simple. Designing one that provides what you want, with decent performance and maintenance that doesn't become a nightmare, will take some careful thought. Not everyone has the temperament for that type of work, especially those who prefer graphical design, content creation or development, and the many other web site tasks that are part of every implementation.
There are other, more low level administrative matters. Managing disk space, maintaining domain names, dealing with registration and changes, and a number of other 'utilitarian' tasks are also not everyone's cup of tea. Some understanding of how DNS works, as well as the design of the Internet itself, are helpful. That provides a good context for understanding the role of some of those tasks.
When you begin to seek out a web host to implement a web site, consider all these factors and look in the mirror. What kind of web hosting you should pursue is determined by a combination of who you are and what's being offered. Look before you leap.
The History of Writing Tools (history of writing tools) Writing tools are essential to written communication. A person is not able to write without the proper writing tools. However, many people don?t realize that writing tools did not just pop into existence; writing tools have a long history. Writing tools have helped societies write their history and bring civilizations to life. The history of writing tools begins with the cave man that invented the sharpened-stone, which was later developed into the first writing tool. Cave men used these instruments to scratch pictures onto the walls of cave dwellings. The drawings were said to represent events in the daily life of the cave men, such as the planting of crops and hunting victories. Clay was later discovered, which made portable records possible, and many merchants of the time used clay token with pictographs to record the quantities of materials being traded and shipped. The Greeks developed the earliest form of pen and paper. They used the writing stylus, which could be made of metal, bone, or ivory, to make marks on wax-coated tablets. The tablets used by the Greeks were made in hinged pairs that were closed to protect the scribe?s notes. Cadmus was a Greek scholar who seemingly invented the written letter, which is a text message on paper sent from one individual to another. The written letter proved to be a major event in the history of writing tools, and was the starting point for the development of ink. ?Indian Ink? was developed by the ancient Chinese society, and perfected for writing. The ink was originally designed for blacking the surfaces of raised stone-carved hieroglyphics, but was later used for writing. This early ink was made of a mixture of soot from pine smoke and lamp oil mixed with the gelatin of donkey skin and musk. By the year 1200 B.C. the ink had become common as a writing tool. Inks were also developed by other cultures, who used natural dyes and colors derived from berries, plants, and minerals to create them. The different colors of inks had ritual meanings attached to each color in early writings. In the history of writing tools the development of ink paralleled the introduction of paper. Early cultures such as the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and Hebrews used papyrus and parchment paper to write on. Romans invented a reed-pen for parchment and ink, from the hollow tubular-stems of marsh grass and the jointed bamboo plant. The bamboo stems were converted into writing tools that resemble the fountain pen. The plant was cut at one end into the form of a pen point, and ink filled the stem, by squeezing the reed, writers could force the ink from the point and write on parchment paper. The early forms of ink and paper were great developments in the history writing tools, but were often unstable. A stable form of ink was developed in 400 A.D., which was a composite of iron-salts, nutgalls, and gum. The ink was seen as having a bluish-black hue when applied to paper, but quickly becoming a darker black color, and fading after years and appearing as a dull brown color. The Chinese created a wood-fiber paper in 105 A.D., but it was not known to other cultures until 700 A.D. when the Japanese learned the secret. Eventually, the wood-fiber paper was brought to Spain in 711 A.D., but was not widely used in Europe, as most European societies did not use paper until the 14th century. The quill pen is also a major invention in the history of writing tools. The quill pen was introduced to the world in 700 A.D. The pen was made of bird feathers, and the strongest quills were typically taken from live birds from the outer left wing feathers. After the development of the quill pen, plant fiber paper became the popular medium for writing. Then another invention changed the history of writing tools; Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. This invention has led to various other developments in printing and writing tools. Writing tools are essential to writing, and without the development we would not be able to show others our ideas and thoughts.
Web Hosting - Is a Dedicated Server Worth What You Pay? In reviewing web hosting plans, many web site owners are faced at some point with the decision of whether or not to pay for a dedicated server. A dedicated server is one which holds your site(s) exclusively. It's not shared with other sites. You then have the option to put one site or many on that piece of hardware. But the decision is never easy. There are multiple considerations to take into account, far beyond just the higher dollar outlay that inevitably accompanies a dedicated server option. Performance is (or should be) a prime consideration for the majority of site owners. Studies show that when a page doesn't load within about 10 seconds or less, almost everyone will give up and go elsewhere. The delay may be caused at any of a hundred different points in the chain between the server and the user. But often, it's the server itself. In any case, it's important to eliminate the server as a possible bottleneck, since it's one of the few points over which the site owner can exercise some control. That need for control extends further than just performance, however. Other aspects of the user experience can benefit or suffer from server behavior. Security is a prime example. With the continuing prevalence of spam and viruses, a server can easily get infected. Having only your site(s) on a single server makes that issue much easier to deal with. With fewer sites on a server, there is less likelihood of getting infected in the first place. Also, since you will place a higher value on security than many others, it's easier to keep a dedicated server clean and your site well protected. You can use best practices in security to fortify your site. Having other sites on the server that you don't control raises the odds that your efforts are for nothing. One way your efforts can get watered down is through IP address sharing. Less sophisticated hosting services will often assign a single IP address to a single server and multipe sites. That means your site is sharing the same IP address with other domains. That leaves you vulnerable in several ways. Virus or spam attacks may target a particular IP address. If you have the same one as another site, one that is more likely to attract hostile intentions, you suffer for and with someone else. In other cases an IP address range is assigned to the server, with each site receiving its own address from within that range. Though better than the one IP:server scenario, this still presents a vulnerability. Many attacks try a range of IP addresses, not just a single one. But even legitimate sources can give you trouble when you share an IP address or a range. If another site engages in behavior that gets it banned, you can suffer the same fate if they ban the address or range. If the miscreant that shares your server/IP address or range is himself a spammer for example, and gets blacklisted, you can inadvertently be banned along with him. Using a dedicated server can overcome that problem. There's a certain comfort level in knowing what is installed on the server you use, and knowing that you alone put it there. But a dedicated server option may require increased administration on your part. If you're not prepared to deal with that, you may have to pay still more to have your dedicated server managed by someone else. All these factors have to be weighed carefully when considering a dedicated server plan.
Web Hosting - Managing Disk Space Few things are less exciting than managing the disk space that always seems to be in too short a supply. But few things are more important to the health and well being of your site. The most obvious aspect of managing disk space is the need to have enough. If you have only a few dozen web pages, that's not an issue. But as the amount of information (web pages, database content and more) grows, the quantity of free space goes down. That's important for two reasons. All permanent information on a computer is stored on hard drives. Temporary information is often stored in memory only. The two components are completely separate, though they are sometimes confused with one another. As the amount of free space on the hard drive decreases several effects occur. Here's one way to picture them... Imagine you had a table with a certain area and you lay out playing cards on the table. At first, you lay them out in order, the 2 at the side of the 3, then 4, and so on. But then you pick up one or two cards from the middle and discard them. Then you add some more cards. Pretty soon things look pretty random. Now cover the cards with a big opaque sheet of paper. You want the cards to appear in order when displayed to someone. A special robot could be designed to always pick up the cards from underneath the sheet in order. Or, it could slide a hole in the sheet over the cards to display them in the correct order (2, 3, 4, ...), no matter what order they are really in. That's similar to how the operating system always shows you information in a sensible way, even though it's actually stored randomly. Why should you care? Real files are stored in pieces scattered around the drive wherever there is space for them. The more free space there is, the quicker the operating system can find a place to store a new piece. That means, if you delete the junk you no longer need (and free up more space) the system actually runs quicker. It helps create space you might need, and allows the operating system to store files for you faster. But there's a second effect. As you delete old files or change them, the pieces get more and more scattered. It takes the 'robot' longer and longer to fetch or display the 'cards' in order. Existing files are fetched and put together 'on the fly' (say, when you request a graphical page or a list of names). But, it takes longer to put together the web page when there are more scattered pieces. So, the other aspect of managing disk space is to keep the pieces of the files more or less in order. A utility that does that is called a 'de-fragger' or de-fragmentation program. You can request that a system administrator run it, or if you have the authority, you can run it yourself. That keeps the 'cards' in order and allows for quicker access to them. So, managing disk space involves chiefly three things: (1) keeping enough space to store what you need to store, and also (2) keeping enough free space to make new file storage quick and (3) making old file retrieval fast by keeping things orderly. When only a few files are involved the benefit isn't worth the effort. But as the number and size of the files grow, to thousands of files or several gigabytes of data, the effect becomes more noticeable. Keeping things organized then makes a significant difference in performance. Much of this can be automated using utilities. Some will delete files in a certain folder older than a certain date. A de-fragger can be set to run automatically during times of light usage, or quietly in the background at all times. Discuss the options with your system administrator and help him or her do the job better by keeping your house in order. You'll benefit by having a better performing web site.