Before you can publish pages on the Web, you must have access to a Web server . Perhaps your company uses a Web server for its site; if so, you can store your Web pages on that computer. If you have access to an online service, such as MSN, your online service might offer an area for one or more Web pages that you can copy to the online site's Web server free or for a small charge. Several free Web hosting sites, such as http://www.geocities.com/ and http://www.brinkster.com, allow you to post Web pages that others can view. Most of these free services require that you and your users view ample advertisements to pay for the free services the host offers, although you can often upgrade these free ad-based sites to a monthly paid service for a small fee. Brinkster.com provides free Web space without advertisements, so you might want to check out that site.
If you want to publish a personal Web page for fun, you will enjoy telling the world your stories and sharing your family photos with others. If you want to start a business on the Internet, however, or offer timely information that you want others to visit often, you need to be aware that Web-page maintenance is costly and time-consuming . You don't just create a Web page, load the page on the Web, and expect to keep people's interest if you don't keep the material up-to-date. In addition, performing e-commerce (selling goods and services over an Internet connection) often requires the help of an outside agency such as a bank or credit-card service, so you might want to get help when you first go online with your organization. In addition, the free Web hosts typically offer only to serve personal Web pages and not business Web pages, so you will always have to factor in extra costs for hosting.
Many homes and small businesses are now getting fast Internet connections. Many of these connections, such as DSL ( Digital Subscriber Line ), enable you to set up a fixed IP address . An IP address, or Internet Protocol address , anchors your position on the World Wide Web so that you can set up your own Web server and host your Web pages directly from your own computer, if you're inclined to do such a thing. Keep in mind that you need to address storage, speed, and security issues (the dreaded s's of Web hosting) before you can safely and successfully host your own site.