The internet offers us all the opportunity to publish our own papers and to develop a portfolio of work that we can show to others or have linked to sites like this one.
The first step in this type of publishing is to acquire a website. If you are lucky the organisation you work for may provide you with space for this purpose, or you may have enough skills to run your PC or Mac as webserver from home. Most of us do not have this level of skill so what we need to find is a hosting service.Hosting
Hosting services are organisations that provide website space (webspace) on their servers, often for a price. You are not restricted by geography when searching for a web host. I currently have my portfolio hosted on a server in the UK, while the commercial website I manage is hosted by Webcentral in Brisbane.
Two types of hosting are available - shared and dedicated.
Shared hosting comes in two flavours: paid for and free.
Shared hosting means that your website runs on the same webserver as a number of other websites. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) account may include a shared hosting webspace. Telstra Bigpond (http://www.bigpond.com/
), Zip.com (http://www.zip.com.au/
), and Froggy.com (http://www.froggy.com.au
), are just a few ISPs who make space available along with an email address.
You can still have a webspace even if you don't have such an ISP account. A number of companies world-wide make limited amounts of webspace available on their servers for free. Some impose conditions, other don't. Free webspace can be found at these sites:http://www.freewebspace.net/
Free web hosting
Many of the agencies listed in the above URLs also offer free email addresses to go with your website.
The drawbacks of free webspaces are:
- You may have to have advertising on your site
- Limited application software options - you may have to make do with just a cgi-bin (for some of us this is a hardship!)
- May have ftp access/upload limits
However, for most of us using a package like Dreamweaver, or even hand coding, HTML will be all we ever need to set up a website of our own.
Shared hosting sites in general have few disadvantages. They may be slow to load if other sites on the host are very popular, and the host may impose traffic limits to enable everyone to get their share.
The ISP and free hosting agencies do not normally provide you with a custom URL or domain name. You generally end up with the host name plus a name you nominate, so for example, if you are with an ISP, your web address will be http://www.isp.net/~yourname
. This is not a good idea if you are an e-commerce site, but for most other purposes it's fine.
A free webspace is a great place to start publishing, or to develop your portfolio without the expense involved in registering a domain.
Paid for shared hosting will give you a few more options. This type of hosting service will provide you with your own domain name for a price on a 'virtual server', as well as a number of email addresses. It works the same way as free hosting but with extra services and application software. Many of the agencies offering free websites also offer more services if you pay.
Response time may be patchy, depending on the host, because you can't control the popularity of the other sites with whom you share the server. Security is not always guaranteed.
However you can do more on your website if you are prepared to pay - you can even run that database! The prices start around $20 per month and you definitely need to shop around!
Here is a random selection of services:
You can find lots more with the search engine http://www.anzwers.com.au
and the search parameters "web hosting".
Dedicated hosting is for the really keen. Costs are relatively high but it is fully managed and gives you control, security and power over your site without the hassle of operating the webserver. A range of application software and other services, including technical support, statistics analysis, search engine registration and numbers of email accounts, are provided for your money. The hosting service will also register your domain name for you and take care of the renewals.
offers this type of service to its big corporate customers and shared services to smaller sites as do other companies. See also http://www.webpub.net/
WebPub.Net This is the type of service you'd need for an e-commerce site.What to look for in a host
With hosting services you get what you pay for so this all depends on your budget.
What I look at (and inevitably have to compromise on) are the following:
- Server software: is the host offering a web server that works with your site. Is the application software what you need?
- What type of operating system will they work with: Mac, NT, Win 2000, Linux, Unix?
- What type of webserver software are they running? This is particularly important if you are using Microsoft FrontPage as it offers components that will only work on Microsoft's Internet Information Server (MIIS): Apache, MIIS, Iplanet (Netscape), Jigsaw (w3c.org)
- Which application servers are available: Websphere, JSP, Cold Fusion?
- Which databases can I run: SQL, Informix, Oracle, Access?
- What other facilities are provided: email, search engine registration, statistics?
- What restrictions are there: upload, site size, user downloads per month?
- The degree of technical support offered
- Will they register a domain name for my site and take care of the paperwork?
- Response time to difficulties.
- Site owner education services
- Response time for the site
- Downtime for the host
- Level of security.
For my free site I have settled for a reasonable response time when accessing it and a quick response time to my queries. Since I don't have to have advertising on my site, I am happy to take what is offered.
For the commercial site I manage, I expect a lot for the fees we pay including maximum 24 hour response time to fix non-urgent technical problems, access to a range of application software, education facilities, statistical analysis of the site and little, or better still, no downtime.Domain Names
If you want a website with a particular address or domain name it will need to be registered. The hosting agency will do this for you for a fee. Otherwise you can do it yourself. For names in Australia (with a .au ending) you must register with http://www.melbourneit.com.au/
If you are registering a commerce (.com) site then you must have an ABN.
You can register a site name overseas. You can find out if the name is available through http://www.networksolutions.com
. The cheapest site to register at (yes it does cost money!) is http://joker.com/
Publishing your own material is relatively simple. All you need is a webspace to load your work to, and you can then send everyone the URL so they can link to you.