In web hosting, a platform refers to an operating system that stores critical files, gives basic commands, and tells the server how to interact with applications. Most servers that host Websites use Linux or Windows.
Linux is a variation of the Unix system, a platform well known for its reliability and stability. Linux is the most popular platform for small to medium sized Websites. It is an open source system which allows users to get the benefit of open source technologies such as Apache, PHP and MySQL. Linux is compatible with some Microsoft products, including FrontPage and MS SQL.
Windows is the server version of the Microsoft desktop operating system. While this platform was powered by Windows NT and 2000 for several years, most Windows hosting plans now use Windows 2003 or 2008. Windows is supported by a large number of applications, including ASP or ASP.NET programming, the SQL Server, Exchange and SharePoint.
Web host plans include a control panel with a graphical interface and automation tools designed to simplify the process of hosting a Website. While some hosts have built their own, the three most commonly used are cPanel, H-Sphere and Plesk. We recommend cPanel, likely the most used today. cPanel has a very user-friendly interface and provides a wide array of features. If choosing cPanel, look for a hosting provider that includes a third-party application named Fantastico De Luxe. Fantastico comes with about 50 add-on applications. These include several easy to install blogs, including Wordpress, content management systems such as Drupal, along with discussion boards (forums) phpBB and SMF. CPanel also provides several hundred free professional looking Website templates. For a complete list of cPanel features, visit here.
Hosting uptime refers to the percentage of time a Website is accessible on the internet. Look for a hosting provider that guarantees at least 99.5% uptime (equivalent to about 45 minutes of downtime per month), and provides a free month of hosting if that uptime is not achieved.
The most popular types of hosting are:
Shared Hosting - Websites, ranging from a few hundred to thousands, share the same server computer. All domains typically share a common pool of server resources, such as RAM and the CPU. The cost of hosting is affordable with many providers charging as little as $4 per month. This is the most popular form of Web hosting.
Dedicated Servers - Dedicated web hosting provides a server that is working solely for your website. It provides better security and a more stable server environment. Dedicated hosting comes in two different forms, managed and unmanaged. With unmanaged dedicated hosting, the client is responsible for the security and maintenance but has total control. It requires that the user have technical expertise. With managed dedicated web hosting, the provider will handle all technical aspects of your service but will typically prevent you from accessing many areas within the server. Dedicated hosting from a reliable provider will cost $100 per month to several thousand dollars.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) - VPS, also known as virtual dedicated server hosting, VDS and virtual shared server, has most advantages of a dedicated server for a lot less money. A server is divided into multiple, smaller segments called virtual dedicated servers. Each virtual dedicated server (VDS) segment behaves much like a dedicated server even though several domains share the server computer. Customers are fully secluded from other users on the server and the actions of others cannot slow or impact the hosting service. Several hosting companies include cPanel with their plans. VPS hosting can cost as little as $40 per month from a quality Webhost.
It's best to buy a domain name that describes what your Website is about and the keyword or keywords customers are likely to use when they search for your product or service. If you must have the name of your company or organization in the domain, purchase an additional URL and park it on the other domain.
You should choose a domain as short as possible, preferably under 10 letters. Long names are tough for the public to remember. Select a domain that's easy to remember and easy to spell. Avoid domains with hyphens or numbers.
A often searched keyword in the URL will translate to higher placement in search engines. If the URL looks unprofessional, people are less likely to click on its search engine listing. Domain names that have existed longer will provide a higher search engine placement so try to locate one that was not renewed by a previous owner. If you cannot find a suitable domain by searching domain name registrars, consider buying a domain in the secondary domain market.
The most popular domain extensions are usually TLDs or top level domains. These are COM, NET, ORG, INFO, BIZ, US and MOBI. Country code top level domains (ccTLDs), generally used or reserved for a country, are in order of popularity, CN (China), DE (Germany), UK (United Kingdom), EU (European Union), NL (Netherlands), IT (Italy) and US (United States).