As you've known for a number of chapters, you need space on the hard disk of a Web server to publish your page on the Web.
By now, you probably already know where you intend to publish your page. Nearly all Internet accounts ”whether with a regular Internet service provider or with an online service, like AOL ”now include a few megabytes of Web server space in the deal (see Figure 30.1). Most folks publish their first Web pages in the space supplied by their Internet providers.
Figure 30.1. Most folks just starting out with Web publishing should use any Web server space that comes free with their Internet or online service account.
Note that Web space suppliers usually make a distinction between personal home pages and commercial pages (those used to promote a business). On the assumption that a commercial page generally gets more traffic than a personal one, suppliers might charge a higher rate for space used by a commercial page.
If your Internet provider gives you free space, the provider might require that the space be used for only a personal page and might charge an additional monthly fee if you use the space for commercial purposes. (Exceptions may be made for not-for-profits; talk to your provider.)
In case your Internet provider offers no server space to you, here are some other ways to pick up Web server space:
Before choosing a provider for Web space, visit that company's Web page a few times at different hours. If the server sends pages slowly at certain hours or seems to be unavailable from time to time, look for a better-equipped provider.
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At work or school ” Your employer or school might have a Web server on which you are permitted to store your page. Certainly, if your page is strictly work related (or school related ), you're most likely to gain permission to publish it on the server for free.
However, note that free access to corporate and university servers is diminishing rapidly as demand grows and as organizations look for ways to earn money from their Internet connections. Also, many university systems, as well as some corporate systems, are overtaxed and might have outdated server hardware or inadequate connection speeds. Using a slow or unreliable system provides poor service to your visitors ; forking over a few dollars a month for space on a fast commercial server might be a better choice in the long run than using free space on a poor server.
From a Web hosting service ” A growing number of companies online offer Web space "hosting services." Many such services are just Internet providers making a few bucks on the side by leasing server space, often for just a few dollars a month.
You can also find "free" server space offered by a variety of companies sometimes called online communities . In exchange for your free space, you agree to include required advertising on your pages (see Figure 30.2).
Figure 30.2. You can get "free" Web hosting services ”just remember that they reserve the right to post advertisements on your Web pages, for your visitors to see.
Finding Web hosting services by surfing is easy. You can enter the search term Web hosting in any search engine or visit the HostSearch site (www.hostsearch.com), a search tool specifically for finding server space (see Figure 30.3).
Figure 30.3. The HostSearch page helps you find Web server space that matches your needs.
Some hosting services are set up to offer free or low-cost space for pages with particular worthy topics: the arts or nonprofit organizations, for example.
The build-your-own method ” If your Web page requires extra-tight security (for online sales) or makes extensive use of CGI scripts (especially for forms), an in-house Web server might be your answer. Building your own Web server is a more practical solution than ever (even for relatively small companies), thanks to lower-priced server computers ( especially Pentium-based PCs); cheaper, simpler server software (primarily from Microsoft, although free, open -source alternatives are also available); and the wide availability of high-speed data lines (such as ISDN or T1).
Setting up a Web server is not cheap. The hardware and software for a decent server is coming down rapidly, to a reasonable cost for a small business (less than $5,000). But the 24- hour , high-speed dedicated Internet connection that a Web server demands might cost more than four times that much ”every month. Although effectively administering a Web server is getting easier all the time, the job essentially demands one or more full-time experts.
The combined cost of server, connection, and staff now falls within the means of most companies with more than 100 employees , or smaller companies whose line of business makes Web service a high priority. For other small companies and for individuals, however, leasing space on someone else's server is a far more sensible option.
Increasingly, commercial hosting services not only provide space, but can also supply (for a higher fee) e-commerce services. The hosting company can take care of processing orders and credit card transactions for you, so you can set up an online store without having to worry about all the e-details.