Posts Tagged "web servers"

Windows Web Space

For a novice, Windows might seem to be an appealing server operating system. After all, it’s probably what you use on your desktop or laptop; why not choose web space that uses an environment that you’re more familiar with?

However, this isn’t as good an idea as it seems. Desktops and servers are two very different things. Windows is great on your desktop. But on your server, the standard operating system in use is Linux. In fact, when providers offer web hosting but don’t mention the server operating system, they’re likely referring to a Linux server.

Linux is a free, open-source operating system, originally based on the Unix specification. Linux distributions—typically Apache, but others are perfectly viable—simply beat Windows on the metrics that matter here. Most notably, it’s far more stable when running a large number of processes.

Processes

The Windows NT kernel’s stability degradation with process count isn’t a huge deal for personal use; you’ll never be running enough software simultaneously for it to be relevant. However, a large-scale server, like those used by the big web hosting companies, has to run numerous instances of the PHP parser, various database engines, and a host of other specialized software. Windows is significantly more prone to downtime under these circumstances.

Modularity

Linux is much more modular than Windows, too. This is helpful both for performance and security. With respect to performance, it means that servers can run a minimal subset of the operating system, with only the software they need. For you, this means that you can be allotted more CPU time and memory at the same cost to your host. On the other hand, even with the recent efforts to minimize the resource footprint on server versions of Windows, it’s still much clunkier and more bloated than its competition—which means that you’re looking at worse results for your money.

Security

Back to security, Windows has a similar problem—more complexity, in terms of the features that are currently running, means more opportunity for security flaws. Linux dodges this bullet, plus it benefits from its open-source development model, which corrects security holes with lightning speed.

Conclusion

Are there times when you want to use web space on a server that runs Windows? Well, yes; there are some limited circumstances where you need to use Windows-based web space in spite of its flaws. If you intend to use proprietary Microsoft technologies like ASP.NET, your best bet is still a Windows server. Linux-based implementations do exist for many of these, but they’re far from flawless, and as such most web hosts don’t bother. Barring special cases along these lines, though, there’s really no reason to bother with Windows as a server operating system.

Your user interface will be the same either way—typically, an online control panel. You won’t be using a desktop environment. Windows web space isn’t necessarily going to be any more familiar or easy to use than a Linux system, and it fares much worse on both performance and security. This means a greater total cost of operation, which is passed on to you in the form of greater prices or reduced service. Unless you need something that only Windows web hosting can offer, it’s better to go for Linux.

How Important Is Your Web Server’s Location?

Web space has a market in every country. The question is, should you purchase web hosting within your own country? Or are you better off getting it from one of the more established US-based providers?

Latency

Let’s start with the advantages of a local web server location. For you, at least, latency is going to be significantly lower than it is with out-of-country providers; after all, you’re sending signals a much shorter distance back and forth. That being said, it’s important not to overstate the significance of this. Modern broadband infrastructure has very low latency even across long distances. Unless you intend to run a demanding real-time service—for example, an online gaming server—latency isn’t that important.

Tech Support

What’s more important, though, is tech support. Any web host needs good, reliable tech support to be worth your money. Ideally, this should include live support. So there is a sizable advantage to having a host within your own country. Being in the same time zone prevents you from having to worry about the exact hours when live support is available, and having support in your native language can be extremely helpful.

All in all, though, you’re going to be better off looking at web space within the United States than at providers in most other nations.

Web Space in the United States

The US web hosting industry is much more mature than most others. These businesses have been operating for decades in some cases. There’s much more useful information available to you before you make a decision—you can consult years and years of customer reviews in order to figure out just how able they are to deliver on the features and performance that they promise.

Furthermore, the underlying broadband infrastructure in the US is relatively solid, and most of the large server farms are easily able to get more than enough bandwidth for their purposes. Other nations can vary in this respect, but generally they can’t produce the same results.

For English-speaking audiences, the largest proportion of your readers will likely be in the US anyway. This means that latency will be minimal for most of your intended users.

For non-English-speaking audiences, it depends on your language. For example, the US has a decent Spanish-speaking population and is relatively close to several Spanish-speaking countries, so having a US web server location isn’t bad for a website targeted at Spanish speakers. German, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as prevalent in the geographic region, so latency will be higher for most of your target audience. Again, though, latency only really matters with the most finicky of real-time services, so keep that in mind.

Conclusion

In the end, if you want to serve a non-English-speaking region and require live tech support in your native language—or intend to run real-time services which are hindered by latency—you’re best served by a local hosting provider. But otherwise, US-based hosts provide superior speeds, and have already worked out kinks that competitors in other nations are still figuring out. Just make sure that you select an established, reliable web host with good technical support.

Web Server Location

Web server location is one of the things you should consider when building your website. In this article, we’ll give you pointers on which areas of the world are best for server locations and why. We’ll also help you determine whether your web space would benefit from a local server.

First things first. Web server location refers to the physical location of your web hosting service. Not all servers are located where you would expect. It’s fairly common for a small business in one country to purchase web space from a hosting company in another country, and for a hosting company in one country to lease out servers in another country. This means that you could be in the United Kingdom, purchasing hosting from a company in the United States, which is actually using servers in Australia.

What Makes a Good Web Server Location

Reliable Connectivity

A good location is based on several things. First, think about how developed the area is in terms of Internet connection. Highly developed areas such as North America, Western Europe, and Australia generally have good, reliable connections. This means a smoother web experience for you and your website visitors.

Internet Laws

Another important factor is the political climate and how it relates to Internet practices. A resident of the United States, for example, typically knows little about European Internet laws, and could be in for some surprises.

Servers located in the United States are generally a safe bet because they have a democratic system, not to mention most of the best web hosts and web services in the world are based there.

Your Target Market

Web server location is also important in boosting exposure for your web space. Having your web server in the same country as your target market can increase your website visits.

Search engines like Google consider web server location in their algorithm, so a local server will give you higher rankings if a local visitor searches for your product or service. Also, a local server makes the website load faster for local visitors, which is always a good thing.

Natural Disasters

The likelihood of natural disasters in a certain area is very important when choosing a server location. After all, if the area is hit by a hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, or flooding, connections may be lost for hours, days, or weeks. This is not something you want for your website.

Areas which enjoy stable climates are generally the safest. The United States, Canada, Western Europe, and Australia are all typically stable, and are home to a great deal of reliable servers.

Conclusion

In the end, it’s best to choose a web server located in developed, climate-stable, and democratic countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Local servers are good for websites that are targeted to people in a specific country.

If you’re looking for excellent web hosts, check out our recommended list. All of these hosts use servers in the United States.

The right location plays a part in having an optimal website experience for you and your visitors, so be sure you make the right choice.

Image by Erwin Boogert.

Buying Web Space: A Beginner’s Guide

Would you like to expand your small business? Show off your artistic work? Share your ideas with others? Having a website can definitely help you grow your business, showcase your talent, express yourself, and meet new people. If you feel overwhelmed by the technical issues of starting your own website, this guide is for you. Buy Web Space Today was created to help beginners learn the basics of buying web space, building their website, and growing their online presence. The first thing you have to do is buy web space. You can accomplish this in the following 5 steps.

Step 1: Learn how it works

Websites are made of data—computer code, images, audio, video, databases, and more. If you’d like your website to be accessible to people around the world 24/7, you’ll want to store this data in a computer that’s connected to the Internet permanently. A web server is a type of computer that’s suited to this purpose. You could buy and maintain your own web server—which would be expensive and time-consuming—or you could sign up with a web space provider, also known as a web host. This is a company that hosts your website, i.e., lets you rent space on their web servers for a monthly or yearly fee.

In addition to web hosting, you’ll want to register a domain, which is your address on the Internet. If you owned a business called Sarah Jones Bakeshop, for example, you might want your domain name to be sarahjonesbakeshop.com. So while web hosting provides you with “land” on the Internet, domain registration provides you with an official address. Most web hosts offer packages that include both web hosting and domain registration.

Step 2: Determine your needs

Before you choose a web host, think of what you need. Here are some things to consider:

  • Disk space. How much disk space you need to store your data will depend on the nature of your website. If the website will be mostly text, you will likely need less than 10MB of disk space. If it will contain music, videos, or high-resolution images, you will need a lot more.
  • Bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of data transfer that your web host will allow you to have every month. Every time a visitor loads your website, the data transfer is subtracted from your total bandwidth. If you go over the limit, your web host might suspend your website until next month. When considering bandwidth, think about the size of your files as well as your anticipated number of visitors each month.
  • Customer support. Are you comfortable figuring out technical issues on your own? If you are, then this won’t be a huge requirement. But if you think you won’t be able to fix your website yourself if it malfunctions, good technical support is a must.
  • Email accounts. Most web hosting plans include email accounts, but some offer a limited number. Make sure to check. If you own a business, remember that you’ll want to give @yourdomain.com email accounts not only to yourself but also to your employees and business partners.
  • Programming languages, database systems, and other technical issues. If you’re looking to have a simple static website, you won’t need any server-side languages and databases. But you’ll need them for dynamic websites—blogs, forums, social networking sites, or basically all websites that you want to be able to update without having to edit and upload files from your computer. PHP and MySQL are the most popular programming language/database system pair, but there are many others available.

Other things to consider:

It would be useful to create a comparison chart to help you see the features of different web hosting plans.

Step 3: Decide on the type of web hosting

There are different types of web hosting:

  • Free hosting is generally unreliable in terms of server uptime, bandwidth, and company longevity. They also often place unwanted advertisements on their hosted websites. This is not recommended, unless you only have a personal website whose reliability and professionalism aren’t too important.
  • Shared hosting is the most common kind of hosting, where your website shares server space and computing resources with a few other hosted websites. This is recommended for anyone with regular needs.
  • Virtual private servers provide more guaranteed resources and better performance than shared hosting. It’s the middle ground between shared and dedicated hosting.
  • Dedicated hosting allows you to have a web server all to yourself, but still maintained by your web host. This can be very nice, but it’s expensive and difficult to set up. This is recommended for advanced users and websites which need a lot of computing resources.

Most individuals and small businesses choose shared web hosting. It’s an affordable solution that includes all the typical features websites need. You could always upgrade later if you want to.

Step 4: Choose your web host and hosting plan

There are lots of web hosts to choose from, and each web host usually offers several web hosting plans. Assess your needs and consider whether your potential web host and hosting plan will meet each of them. Look at the web host’s reputation, uptime, and customer support. Look at the plan’s disk space, bandwidth, performance, and additional features. If you’re not comfortable with manual configuration, choose a web host that will also do your domain registration for you. Compare, contrast, and choose carefully. If you’re in doubt, sign up for a month and try it out before committing to a long-term contract.

Just Host is a great choice; they have a good technical platform, uptime, and customer service. But there are many other good providers, and you can check them out here.

Step 5: Register your domain and get your web hosting

Register the domain you want for your website. Sign up with your chosen web host and pay for your hosting plan. If applicable, configure the domain and web hosting so that they work together. Congratulations! You now have a home on the web.