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introduction to web hosting

For many businesses, the whole notion of "having a website" is still a fairly new concept. Here are some useful facts for helping newcomers more fully understand the notion of website hosting and related services. Our Customer Support section contains additional useful information.

Website hosting. Websites not only need to be designed. They need to actually "reside" on a computer somewhere that is accessible from the Internet 24 hours a day. That computer is called the host computer, and website hosting is the associated service.

Web addresses. Just as actual businesses have mailing addresses, websites need to have a web address. For all kinds of Internet marketing reasons (including the fact that you will tend to do better on the search engines if your web address is a domain name that contains your product type, "widgets", "cars", etc.), the best kind of address you can have requires having your own domain name, The most common web address then looks like "", or, as it is more usually abbreviated, "". (Your browser will automatically fill in the "http://" part of the web address.)

Domain name registration. In order to "obtain" your own domain name, you need to register it with the Internic. The Internic is the government organization that maintains a database of all domain names on the Web. It is something like the Post Office. When someone types in your web address,, part of the process of finding your website involves consulting the Internic's database, to figure out exactly where that domain name resides (i.e., on which host computer). The Internic charges an initial $70 for the first 2 years of registration, and then $35 each year thereafter.

Note: You cannot register a domain name without having a host computer where the domain name will reside already selected. If you are doing the registration yourself (we do that for free by the way, for folks hosting with us), you'll need to know the primary host name (e.g., and the corresponding IP address (a four-part number, e.g., 57.388.34.27), as well as the secondary host name and its corresponding IP address.

Domain name set-up. The Internic needs to know the host computer on which your website is located in order for its database to direct someone to the right page when they type in your web address. The Internic also needs to be able to find your website on that host computer. That is the job of domain name set-up on the host computer. This is a one-time service done by the hosting service, prior to actual hosting.

More about domain names. That ".com" at the end of the usual domain name stands for "commercial". The most established domains are:

  • -- The most common web address for most online businesses.
  • -- The next most common choice.
  • -- Typically associated with non-profit organizations or personal home pages
  •, int, mil -- Exclusively for government or military organizations

If you are not based in the United States, then your domain name will typically have a country code tacked onto the end of it: e.g., (in Canada), ("Deutschland", or Germany), etc.

Domain names are highly prized commodities! The best ones are already gone, and you might be surprised to find that the domain name of your choice (perhaps even your company name) is already gone.* Hence even if your website launch is years away, it is good to register the domain name of your choice (if it is still available) as soon as you can, and park it on a host computer, even if you do nothing else with it for years.

*If you really want a domain name, even if it is currently registered, you may be able to obtain it through legal means if it is essentially identical to your company name, and that is not the case for the current registrant. Or you may be able to "purchase" a good name from its current registrant. Some companies even specialize in grabbing good names and then re-selling them.

It is also a common practice for businesses to simultaneously register all three of the most common domains --,, and -- to keep their competition from acquiring these names. (Note that commercial businesses can acquire ".org" names, so long as that name is not the one they advertise as their web address.)

Enchanted Websites domain name registration

Domain name availability. Check out now whether your favorite domain names are still available! Click here.

Alternative domains. Because so many of the best domain names have already been "used up" on the "com", "net", and "org" domains, several new country-specific domains have become popular:

  • -- This domain is currently in use and functions exactly as ".com" It is expected to match ".com" in growth and commercial use worldwide. The .cc domain name stands for the Cocos (Keeling) Island. However you don't have to live or have offices in Cocos (Keeling) Island to register a .cc domain name. The CCNIC fee is $100.00 which covers the first 2 years of maintenance. After 2 years they will invoice you $50.00 annually. (In addition there is typically a fee charged by the registration company).
  • -- The .nu domain name stands for the country of Niue. However you don't have to live or have offices in Niue to register a .nu domain name. $45.00 for the first 2 years (plus a fee charged by the registration company).
  • -- The .to domain name stands for the country of Tonga. However you don't have to live or have offices in Tonga to register a .to domain name. The fee is $100 for the first 2 years, $50 per year thereafter (plus a fee charged by the registration company).

Web hosting versus ISPs. These two services are often confused by newcomers: The former rents out a location for your website; the latter ("Internet Service Providers") links your computer to the Internet. Obviously different, right? But what confuses things is that many ISPs provide services above and beyond just the connection to the Internet, which generally include a personal email account, and often some free web hosting space. While this is a great deal for beginners, it is usually not the recommended choice for businesses, since it is very difficult for companies to be good at both; excellent-performance web hosting requires broad bandwidth, high-speed connections to the Internet via T3 and T1 lines. (Click here to see more of what is usually required for excellent performance.) Many ISPs do not provide this kind of performance.

On the other hand, web hosting services that are not ISPs (such as
Host Your Site) do not provide internet connections. So don't throw away your ISP if you host your website with us! You need both services.

Looking for a good Internet Service Provider? Inverse Internet Technology regularly provides ratings of some of the big name providers, relative to such measures as "Average Time to Login", "Call Failure Rate", etc. You can get quite a bit of information from their assessment,
which is located at:

Example. Let's put all this together! In the most common case, you are starting from scratch. That means you must do the following:

  • Select a domain name (or several)
  • Select a hosting service, on which your domain name will "reside"
  • Register your domain name(s) -- many hosting services (like Host Your Site) will do this for you
  • Have the hosting service set up your domain name.
  • Begin hosting!

Our Customer Support section contains more useful information.

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