setting up your website
Domain Names and Websites
Domain names are the "address" of your website (such as EXAMPLE.COM), and allow it to be found on the internet. While it is commonly called BUYING a domain name, it is more like renting a domain name. You pay for a year (or more) and get to use the domain name on the internet. If you do not renew the domain (and pay for another year), it expires. After it expires and is dropped from registration, someone else can register it and use it. Or it can remain unregistered. Since domain names have been in commercial use for over ten years now, all the really catchy, short, memorable domain names have already been taken.
The usual way to register a domain name is by going to a domain registration website, picking an available name, and using a credit card to register it. The domain company will need your "contact information". This includes name, address, phone number, and email address. This is frequently referred to as WHOIS information. The email address is VERY important, because that is how most companies notify you of problems, and they send renewal notices there, too. Use an email address that you check regularly, and if you need to change email addresses for some reason, REMEMBER to update the information with the domain company.
To have a working website, the domain company will need to know your website NAMESERVERS. They will look something like NS1.EXAMPLE.com and NS2.EXAMPLE.COM, or something similar. There should be at least two (two is fine). Your webhosting company will tell you what internet nameservers to use. You would set them in the control panel at the domain company's website. If you buy your domain before you know what webhosting company you will be using, that's ok. Just leave the default nameservers in the domain name control panel, and come back later to update that information.
When picking a webhost, you will see offers mention things like space, bandwidth, transfer, megabytes, and gigabytes. The space is how much "room" the webhost is giving on the server for the account you sign up for. Since server hard drives have a certain (limited) amount of total space, the space is divided up between the accounts on the server. The bandwidth (transfer) is the amount of your files that can be delivered from the server through its connection to the internet. The connections can only pass so much data from server to internet, so that is divided up too, and each account (customer) gets a certain amount of data transfer. Most often this is quoted as an amount per month, but sometimes it is quoted per day.
The account limits for a small personal website might be advertised as:
- 100 megabytes space
- 3 gigabytes transfer
This would be enough for a small personal website.
One thing that uses up space after a while is email. Both saved emails and their attachments, and somethimes even deleted emails. Some email programs require two steps to totally delete. Such as delete from the INBOX, then empty the trash directory. Just play with the email program the webhost has installed, and see how to delete emails so that they don't use up your webspace just sitting there in the trash. Another thing that takes up space is the copy of the email kept in the SENT box. Especially if you send and receive emails with attachments like digital pictures, you might use up the space of a smaller hosting plan, and it might be useful to buy a larger plan. Of course, if your website itself has a lot of pictures or some videos, it migt need more space. But that part is easy to plan for, because you pick the files and graphics to show on the website.
There are several brands of website control panels that the webhost could have installed. The control panel allows the customer to do things like create (and delete) email accounts to be used with their domain. Many control panels have a file manager feature, which allows files to be uploaded, downloaded, renamed, and deleted.
Most people who change their websites regularly will use an FTP program to upload and download files. FTP stands for "file transfer protocol", but everyone says "FTP". You put the domain name, and your webhosting username and password into the FTP program, and it should connect to your webspce, and allow you to upload your files. There are dozens of different FTP programs, and each is slightly different. If you have no idea, ask your webhost to recommend a free FTP program, where you can get the program, and what settings to use with it.
One simple way to move files is by using Microsoft Internet Explorer's built-in FTP capability.
Put this in the address spot on the Internet Explorer browser, in the same place you'd put the address of a website you wanted to view.
Hit "enter" or "return", and the browser will try to connect to the website. If it goes well, a window will pop up asking for username and password. Enter these, and it should connect you and let you see the files on the webspace. Usually, the files of your website will be in the folder called "public_html". Browse to that folder, and see what's there.
It may be easier to open a window of "explorer" or "my computer", along with the Internet Explorer FTP window, then drag and drop files between the two windows.
Servers have a limited amount of space for file storage on their hard drives. While it may be a lot, it is still limited. The webhost divides up this server hard drive space and gives (sells / rents) some of it to each customer. The files you upload take up part of your space. The emails you receive take up part of your space, too.
Webspace for a normal webhosting account is commonly listed in megabytes. An example amount would be 100 megabytes (often referred to as "megs").
There are 1,000 kilobytes in one megabyte.
So, 100 megabytes equals 100,000 kilobytes.
If you have digital pictures to upload, and they are all 1 megabyte in size, you could fit 100 pictures in the 100 megs of space.
If all your pictures were 100 kilobytes in size, you could fit 1,000 pictures in the 100 megs of space.
If these pictures were attached to emails you have received, they still take up space.
If the pictures you upload are to be shown on your webpage, and not just stored in your webspace, it's a good idea to limit picture size to 200 kiloybytes. Larger pictures on a webpage will cause it to load slowly when someone visits your website.
Plain text webpages (without pictures or embedded files) are usually small in size. So, unless you have a lot of them, they won't cause space problems.