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Web Hosting - The Internet and How It Works
In one sense, detailing the statement in the title would require at least a book. In another sense, it can't be fully explained at all, since there's no central authority that designs or implements the highly distributed entity called The Internet.
But the basics can certainly be outlined, simply and briefly. And it's in the interest of any novice web site owner to have some idea of how their tree fits into that gigantic forest, full of complex paths, that is called the Internet.
The analogy to a forest is not far off. Every computer is a single plant, sometimes a little bush sometimes a mighty tree. A percentage, to be sure, are weeds we could do without. In networking terminology, the individual plants are called 'nodes' and each one has a domain name and IP address. Connecting those nodes are paths.
The Internet, taken in total, is just the collection of all those plants and the pieces that allow for their interconnections - all the nodes and the paths between them.
Servers and clients (desktop computers, laptops, PDAs, cell phones and more) make up the most visible parts of the Internet. They store information and programs that make the data accessible. But behind the scenes there are vitally important components - both hardware and software - that make the entire mesh possible and useful.
Though there's no single central authority, database, or computer that creates the World Wide Web, it's nonetheless true that not all computers are equal. There is a hierarchy. That hierarchy starts with a tree with many branches: the domain system.
Designators like .com, .net, .org, and so forth are familiar to everyone now. Those basic names are stored inside a relatively small number of specialized systems maintained by a few non-profit organizations. They form something called the TLD, the Top Level Domains. From there, company networks and others form what are called the Second Level Domains, such as Microsoft.com.
That's further sub-divided into www.Microsoft.com which is, technically, a sub-domain but is sometimes mis-named 'a host' or a domain. A host is the name for one specific computer. That host name may or may not be, for example, 'www' and usually isn't. The domain is the name without the 'www' in front. Finally, at the bottom of the pyramid, are the individual hosts (usually servers) that provide actual information and the means to share it.
Those hosts (along with other hardware and software that enable communication, such as routers) form a network. The set of all those networks taken together is the physical aspect of the Internet.
There are less obvious aspects, too, that are essential. When you click on a URL (Uniform Resource Locator, such as http://www.microsoft.com) on a web page, your browser sends a request through the Internet to connect and get data. That request, and the data that is returned from the request, is divided up into packets (chunks of data wrapped in routing and control information).
That's one of the reasons you will often see your web page getting painted on the screen one section at a time. When the packets take too long to get where they're supposed to go, that's a 'timeout'. Suppose you request a set of names that are stored in a database. Those names, let's suppose get stored in order. But the packets they get shoved into for delivery can arrive at your computer in any order. They're then reassembled and displayed.
All those packets can be directed to the proper place because they're associated with a specified IP address, a numeric identifier that designates a host (a computer that 'hosts' data). But those numbers are hard to remember and work with, so names are layered on top, the so-called domain names we started out discussing.
Imagine the postal system (the Internet). Each home (domain name) has an address (IP address). Those who live in them (programs) send and receive letters (packets). The letters contain news (database data, email messages, images) that's of interest to the residents.
The Internet is very much the same.
Send Free Cyber Greetings to Friends and Family with These Popular Sites Are you looking for a fast, fun and easy way to stay in touch with family? If so, consider sending free cyber greetings to your best friends and family members by taking advantage of the services offered by many fine e-greeting card services. Here are some reasons why you should consider sending ecards, and where you can find the very best in electronic greetings. Why Should You Consider Electronic Greeting Cards? The traditionalists among us will complain the World Wide Web is quickly eating away at the last traces of decorum and good manners. They will suggest that there is no replacement for the thoughtful and handwritten stationary note. While it is true that there is no equivalent to the handwritten note, it does not mean that you should exclude electronic greeting cards from your social life. Electronic greeting cards can actually be quite helpful in establishing friendships, keeping in touch and sending out a last-minute greeting. In truth, electronic greeting cards may be the saving grace of the modern electronic age. Sending an electronic greeting card is just casual enough to keep you touch, and just formal enough to send a meaningful greeting to someone that you really care about. When it comes to keeping in touch with the people you love, you may want to send out a paper greeting card. However, for those occasions where the important occasion has slipped your mind, an electronic greeting card is an easy way to tell someone that you have not forgotten about him or her. More Reasons Why You Should Send Electronic Greeting Cards Besides being a very quick and easy way to stay in touch, electronic greeting cards are also a great way to help the environment. As more of us move towards an environmentally sustainable future, you may want to send your environmentally conscious friend or family member an electronic greeting card. This is a fun and simple way to save paper and resources. Digital Greeting Cards are Fun and Easy Free virtual postcards are an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family. How do these virtual postcard services work? Usually, you simply select the card that you want from an assortment of electronic designs. Many websites even allow you to select various features of your card. You can often choose your own image, music, background music and other special design features. Then, all you have to do is simply type in your own personalized greeting. Then simply type in your recipient's email address, and wait to hear back from them. Your recipient will either receive an email message with an in-text card greeting, or a link to view their virtual postcard. Where Can You Find the Web's Best Electronic Greeting Cards Services? Fortunately, email has allowed us to become closer to own another, and electronic greeting cards are an easy and fun way to stay in touch. There are many fine websites that allow you to send and receive electronic greeting cards for free. Here is just a brief sampling of the web's best free virtual greeting card services. These include FreeWebCards.com, AllFreeGreetingCards.com, Greetings Island, E-Greetingz.com, Virtual Gravy Greetings, Electronic-Greetings.com, AAAPostCards.com, Radio Cards, E-Cards-Greetings.com, and CyberKisses. What to Look for in a Virtual Greeting Card Service First, although many greeting card services offer paid services, there are still plenty of free greeting card services to choose from. If personalization is important to you, choose a greeting card service that offers a large selection of cards and that allows you to choose from a selection of fonts, colors, music and other template and personalization choices.
Web Hosting - Free vs Paid Web Hosting Options Everyone likes to get something for free. But as the existence of spam shows, free isn't always good. Sometimes, it's downright harmful. Deciding whether it's worth the cost to pay for hosting involves a number of complex considerations. Hosting companies that offer free services obviously can't stay in business from the money they make from you, since there isn't any. So why do they offer free hosting and how do they make money? Why should you care, so long as you get yours? Because, in reality, there's a price of some kind for everything, even something that's free. Free hosting may come from a company doing a promotion to attract business. They expect to demonstrate their value, then charge an existing customer base fees to make up for what they lost by the (short term) offer. It's in essence a form of advertising. But free hosting is offered by lots of companies that are not dedicated to managing servers for websites. Google, Yahoo and thousands of others provide a modest amount of disk space and a domain name on a server for free. Users are free to do anything they like with it, though if the load becomes excessive you can be shut down. That introduces one of the more obvious drawbacks to free hosting: resource limitations. Typically free hosting offers a relatively small amount of space. That's often enough to host a few dozen pages. But an active site can quickly run out of room. A more serious limitation is load. Free hosting often places strict limitations on the allowed amount of bandwidth consumed. If you become a well-visited site, when users start banging away on the server, you can be asked to leave or simply be blocked for the rest of the month. Or, you may be permitted a certain quantity of total bandwidth use per month. Once it's reached, no one else can reach your site until the beginning of a new month. At the same time, you will certainly be sharing equipment with thousands of other sites. Their load can affect your performance, prompting you to move. Migrating an established site brings with it a number of thorny issues that might be better avoided in the first place. Free hosting has another potential downside: lack of support. When you pay for hosting you typically get, at least in theory, a certain level of support. Backups in case of disaster recovery from a hack or server failure, assistance in analyzing connection problems... the variety is endless. With free hosting you usually get none of that. A company or site that offers free hosting will usually recover a disk or server that fails completely and you'll be back up when they do. But if only selected portions of the drive fail, or you lose a few files through a virus attack or accidental deletion, you have to rely on backups to recover. A free service will usually come with no such option. That may not be a problem if you have a small site. You can make copies of everything at another location and simply recover the site yourself - if you have the discipline to keep it current and the skills to make and restore the copy. Free hosting will typically come with a few email addresses, intended to be used for administration and other tasks. But if your needs grow beyond that, you'll need to seek another option. The email service also comes with minimal oversight. The server may be protected against spam attacks and provide virus scanning. But few free services will provide even minimal help with any issues that arise. But the most serious limitation may have nothing to do with any technical issues. Free hosting services often require that your site's pages carry some form of advertising that pays the host, not you. That may be fine for you, or it may not. Individual circumstances vary. On the other hand, if you're just starting out, a free hosting option can be a great way to learn needed skills and a few of the potential pitfalls. You can set up a site, learn how to maintain and improve it, and not care too much if it gets hacked. Freely hosted sites can be a great platform for learning the ropes. Free services don't usually offer any of the features that an active, commercial site will need sooner or later. So if you plan to grow, it may be reasonable to get the free service for a while, knowing you'll have to migrate when you become popular. But in the long run, you get what you pay for and you may need to pay for what you want.