What is a control panel?

Intro to Web Hosting series

What is a control panel?

The control panel is an essential part of any web hosting account. You wouldn’t be able to do very much without some sort of control panel — even just a basic one.

Among the most widely used web hosting control panels are cPanel (shown here), Parallels Plesk, and DirectAdmin. Some control panels only run on Linux, some are meant for Windows, and some will work with both types of operating system.

One important note: Just because your computer at home is running Windows doesn’t mean you need to find a Windows hosting account. You only need a Windows account if your website requires features that only work on Windows. Otherwise, a Linux account will work just as well, and with very few differences.

Most versions of Linux are free, whereas you can’t install Windows on a computer unless you pay for a license. Because of this, Windows hosting accounts generally cost a bit more.

Here is another control panel, Parallels Plesk

This is the end of the tutorial. You should now have a better understanding of what a control panel is

What do you mean when you say gigabyte, megabyte, GB, and MB?

Intro to Web Hosting series

What do you mean when you say gigabyte, megabyte, GB, and MB?

The smallest unit of measurement on a computer is the bit. There are almost always eight bits in one byte. These two terms are commonly confused with each other.

To compound the confusion, the abbreviation for bit is a lowercase b, while byte is abbreviated with an uppercase B.

Making things even more complicated, all the compound forms of bits and bytes — kilobyte (KB), megabyte (MB), gigabyte (GB), etc. — can refer to two different values. Sometimes you’ll see kilobyte and it means 1000 bytes, while it can also mean 1024 bytes.

In any case, a megabyte refers to roughly 1024 kilobytes, and a gigabyte refers to roughly 1024 megabytes. At the next level is terabytes, and hard drives really haven’t gotten any further past that at this point in time.

One other important thing you should know is that whenever you hear about the speed of an Internet connection, it’s almost always going to be referred to in bits, whether that’s kilobits, megabits, or gigabits.

Remember, whenever bits is used, you abbreviate it with a small b. So, kilobits = Kb, megabits = Mb, and gigabits = Gb.

So, the speed of a connection would be referred to, for example, in megabits per second, or Mbps. So, a 100 Mbps connection can transfer 100 megabits every second, which equates to 12.5 megabytes per second.

How much disk space and bandwidth do I need for my website?

Intro to Web Hosting series

How much disk space and bandwidth do I need for my website?

You probably understand what disk space is, but what is bandwidth? A bandwidth quota is a limit placed on the amount of data that can be transferred each month to and from your websites.

Whenever someone downloads a file or views a picture that you host on your account, it uses up bandwidth. That costs your hosting provider money, and they pass that cost on to you. This graph shows the bandwidth usage, both downloads and uploads, for a month

The amount of hard drive space your files take up multiplied by the amount of people that access them each month equals your bandwidth usage.

So, how much disk space and bandwidth do you need to host your site(s)? That can depend on a variety of factors.

Do you plan to host a lot of big downloads? Maybe a bunch of videos, audio clips, or pictures? All of these can quickly consume your space and bandwidth.

When you’re first starting out in the world of web hosting, it’s probably safe to go for a plan with average storage and transfer limits. You can always upgrade in the future.

Just be sure to always keep an eye on things, as most providers will charge extra or suspend your account if you go over your limits.

This is the end of the tutorial. It should now be easier for you to decide how much space and bandwidth you need.

What are web servers? Why are they necessary?

Intro to Web Hosting series

What are web servers? Why are they necessary?

Web servers are computers that have been set up by a hosting company, usually in a ausweb called a datacenter, like the one shown here. A web server’s sole purpose is to store websites until someone wants to visit them, and then to quickly respond to the visitor’s browser with the site’s contents.

A server should be able to respond to at least several dozen requests at a time, if not hundreds. How many websites a server can comfortably host depends on a wide variety of factors, including server hardware and how popular the sites are.

Even the most expensive server hardware isn’t going to be very useful without the software to actually get things done. The key software programs of a web server are also themselves called servers, or daemons.

Most servers used for web hosting have at least these kinds of software servers running at all times:
• an HTTP or web server (to provide the websites)
• an FTP server (for uploading files)• an email server or two
• a database server (for storing information essential to the operation of a website)

You might be wondering… Are web servers even necessary? Why can’t I just run my websites from a computer at home? There are several very good reasons.

Most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) specifically disallow people from running any type of web-related server on their networks. Doing so can potentially get your Internet account suspended or terminated.

But even if that weren’t the case, you have to take into account the upload speed of your connection. While broadband connections are getting faster and faster, upload speeds are usually about 10-20 times slower than download speeds as shown here

When running a server on your computer, your upload speed would directly determine the total download speed shared across everyone accessing your sites. Most likely you’ll only be able to offer up a megabit or two, and even if you’re just hosting a website with pictures on it, that will quickly be used up by only a few people.

A professional server with a hosting provider, on the other hand, could have a connection as fast as 10,000 megabits. You’d have to pay a fortune to get even a 100 Mbit connection to your house, whereas a hosting provider can offer you space on a server with an ultra-high speed connection for a fraction of the cost.

Moreover, most consumer broadband ISPs aren’t reliable enough for hosting websites. You’ll probably want people to be able to visit your sites at all hours of the day, and that won’t be possible if your Internet connection is acting up or your ISP is performing maintenance.

You also have to factor in the costs of running a computer for extended periods, including the cost of any parts that may fail and increased electricity costs.

This completes the tutorial. You should now have a good understanding of what a server is, and why you can’t just use your personal computer as one.

What is an SSL/TLS certificate?

Intro to Web Hosting series

What is an SSL/TLS certificate?

Whenever you or your visitors access a website through a secure, encrypted https://ausweb.com.au/, that connection is typically made using something known as SSL.

If you make a secure connection in your web browser, you’ll probably see the address bar light up or some sort of padlock appear. You should also see that the URL starts with https://. The “s” is what tells you the connection is secure.

Both SSL and its successor, TLS, function using certificates. Any business site that processes transactions will definitely need secure connections to work. If this is the case for you, then you need an SSL/TLS certificate.

Businesses will often purchase an SSL certificate from a reliable source, such as Verisign or Trustwave, so that customers are assured that their transactions are as secure as possible.

Your web host may be able to sell you an SSL certificate from a trusted provider such as one of the companies we just mentioned.

You may also be able to generate a free one from within your control panel, depending on which one your web host uses.

If a website is moved to a different domain name, you’ll need to update its SSL certificate(s). This will prevent your visitors from being scared away by warning messages.

SSL certificates always expire after a fixed amount of time. Your visitors will also receive a warning when this happens, so you should try to remember to renew your certificates before they expire.