Hosting, DNS, SSL, and Domain Names - all you need to know
So you've paid your local web design agency to build you a website, all the hard work is done, you're excited to see it online and bringing in new business. The thing is however, the result of the time and effort your web developers have put in, is in essence, just a bunch of files containing source code. The site doesn't really mean anything useful until the source code is rendered into a functioning website that's accessible by anyone through the internet, and to make that all happen we need a few auxiliary services. This blog will take a look at each of these services, explaining the function of each and why it's needed. If all this stuff isn't for you, and you just want things to be super easy, don't worry we've got you covered. At Impelling, we offer all of these services alongside our websites and we'll see to the all the configuration so that you end up with a website that just works like you want it to.
The first and perhaps most obvious thing you'll need to get your website online is a domain name. The domain names are the top level web address for your site, the things that usually end in .com or .co.uk, impelling.co.uk for example is our main domain name. As well as being the thing people need to type into the address bar to get to your website, domain names are also often used for emails, and sometimes other business web services.
To secure a domain name it must be registered with a domain registrar, handily Impelling is a domain registrar, so we can secure and register domain names on your behalf, collating the cost into your website package and ensuring the domain is renewed each year so your website, emails and other services are always accessible.
DNS or a Domain Name Server is the next vital component after you've obtained a domain name. In simple terms, DNS server tells requests that come into yourdomain.com which server IP to point to for the website. So if the website source files are an island in the middle of the ocean, and your domain name another - the DNS server is like a bridge that links the two, allowing requests to your domain name to reach the source code of the website so it can be delivered to a visitor's computer screen.
DNS is often overlooked or misunderstood, and this is because 90% of the time it's bundled in with a domain name purchase. However, it is possible for DNS servers to live elsewhere from the domain. Sometimes our clients will have domain names with other registrars that, for whatever reason, they can't move, but they want to make use of Impelling DNS servers. In these instances we're flexible and will work with the client to come up with a robust solution that can allow the website to work with minimal fuss.
Web hosting is often referred to as the collective name for each component I'm describing in this blog, but in every instance when a website is hosted, there needs to be a web server somewhere that contains your website's source code and is reachable through the internet.
Not just any web server will do however. Many budget hosting providers will operate what's called shared hosting, bunching a group of websites together on a server, sharing resources to save costs. This works in principle, but if you're sharing space with any other dodgy websites, and someone decided to take them offline, you go offline too. Backups are another thing to consider, as you upload images and documents to your website these are stored on the web server. Loss of these files in the event of something like a server failure can be hugely costly to someone running an ecommerce store - nobody likes having to re-upload hundreds of products.
Impelling web hosting comes with incremental offsite backups, allowing us to roll your website back to nearly any point in time. Each website exists in its own dedicated space and isn't shared with anyone dodgy!
An SSL certificate encrypts the information flowing between a users browser and the web server serving up the website. This means that information such as credit card numbers and passwords is protected from malicious attacks and is much harder to be intercepted in transit. An SSL certificate isn't technically essential to get a website running, however due to recent advice from Google and new warnings being introduced into web browsers we believe an SSL certificate is essential for any website we host. For this reason, an SSL certificate is included as standard, for free as part of any of our hosting packages.
If you would like any more information on any of our hosting packages, or would like to know more about our hosting setup, please don't hesitate to get in touch.