Thursday 28 September 2017

1. Web Hosting Technology Overview

Have you ever wondered how the technology that powers the Internet and the web actually works? There are specific protocols in place that allow web surfers to find the pages they're looking for and see them in the way their builders intended. Keep reading to find out how the net keeps running smoothly.

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Millions of people surf the Internet every day. There are literally billions of web pages opened up and read, all at the blink of an eye. The technology that drives the World Wide Web is simply incredible; humans cannot truly appreciate the magnitude and scope of it. There is simply too much going on all at the same time for us to imagine.

However, we do know how the technology that drives “web surfing” works. Most people do not take the time to stop and think about it, but the Internet was manufactured by humans. It seems to have taken on a life of its own, but it is still run and maintained by ordinary people all over the world.

The fact that the World Wide Web is man made does not detract from how amazing it is; in fact, it is even more incredible that we could have put something like this together in such a short period of time. It is also wonderful that it has become such an integral part of our lives that we do not even give it any thought. We take the Internet for granted: this wonderful combination of servers and databases that gives us websites is simply a tool that the vast majority of us use on a daily basis.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that the World Wide Web can be provided by machines sitting in cold rooms around the world. Anyone with a bit of networking and web experience knows the basic technology that goes into the process. However, without research, it is very difficult to translate that knowledge into the actual process. How is it possible that billions of page views can be handled by these machines?

There are plenty of other questions that arise for the uninformed. How do domain names work? What does a web server do with a page request? What does the user’s computer do with the page when it gets it? These are all questions that are easy to answer, but very few people actually take the time to look into them.

2. Web Hosting Technology Overview - Domain Name

The first step in a user’s quest to load a web page is to type in the address of the page that they want. This address is known as the URL, and it refers to a “domain name.” The domain name is what specifies where the request for a web page will be sent. When you type in your website’s address, the request for the domain name is sent out, and then your computer begins to wait for the web page to come back to it.

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The first stop in the request’s path is to figure out what the domain name means. Computers refer to other computers using “Internet Protocol addresses.” You can think of these addresses in the same way as physical mailing addresses. Each address is unique and can be used by any computer to find any other computer somewhere in the depths of the Internet. In order to get a web page, your computer needs to turn its request for a domain name into a request for an IP address.

There is a master list kept by a private company of all of the domain names on the Internet. This list is constantly being updated and redistributed around the Internet. It is one of the largest and most accessed databases online. It is truly impressive how dynamic it is, constantly being redistributed and updated. The list is actually a collection of hundreds or even thousands of separate databases maintained by different entities.

There is a different collection of domains housed for different reasons. Every country in the world has its own unique collection of domains that it maintains. There are also the standard collections, such as .com, .net, .org, and .gov. All of these lists are constantly floating around the Internet, receiving millions of change requests and access requests, just like the one that originated from the user’s computer.

Your computer’s request is sent to a specific one of these lists, which checks the requested domain name against the database and returns the IP address of the server where the website is being kept. Once the IP address has been obtained, the request can be directed to the individual server that hosts the website.

3. Web Hosting Technology Overview - Servers

When a server receives a request from a user to display a web page, there are several things that it has to take into account. First, it has to determine what the request means. Servers can serve many different purposes, and may send out information other than just web pages. It can tell what request is for which material based on what port the request is being sent over. Requests for web pages are sent over port 80.

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On web servers, all requests over port 80 have to be handled by some kind of program. The most common programs are Microsoft’s IIS and Apache. The function of these programs is to interpret requests sent over port 80 as well as keep track of all of the files that are going into websites. They are basically the part of the computer that handles the request for a web page to be sent to a user.

Once the server has determined that it is being asked for a web page, it has to figure out which one the user is requesting. Servers often host more than just one website. It refers back to the domain name that the user originally requested. It then begins looking for the specified web page within the directory of files that belongs to that domain name.

Once it has found the specific file that is being requested, the server has to figure out what to do with that file. The server cannot simply send the file back to the requester; many files contain sensitive data that webmasters do not want sent out to the general public. Other files are specifically intended to be interpreted by the server before it sends a response. The server is configured to treat different file types in different ways; there is a rule for each of them.

Once the server has determined what to do with the file, it will figure out what to send back to the user. This is the interpreted file. Sometimes this will just be the file itself. Other times it may not send back anything at all; it will just block the request. Depending on what the server decides to send back, the user’s computer will then interpret the response and display something for the end user. Now, the web page has finally been sent back to the user.

4. Web Hosting Technology Overview - Website

Once the user’s computer receives a response from the server, it can interpret what to do with it. The majority of the time, it will simply display the web page in a standard HTML format. However, there are plenty of alternatives. For instance, when people download files online, they take the same kind of request form as a normal web page, but obviously they are not interpreted as such.

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The way that a response is interpreted depends on the user’s browser. Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari can all interpret responses in different ways. Although the ways are typically very similar, web pages will actually look different when interpreted differently by various browsers. It is the job of website developers to ensure that these interpretations are as close together as possible.

There are plenty of responses that can be sent other than plain HTML pages. Many web pages include bits of code called JavaScript or Flash ActionScript. Users may choose to disable these options, but if they do not, then the user’s experience may change as they watch the page. They could watch animations, interact with characters on screen, or have pieces of the screen move around.

Even a normal HTML page is much more complex than it first appears. If you are unfamiliar with how websites work, then you should take a moment to open up the source code of any web page with which you are familiar. You will probably have absolutely no ability to understand it. This is the code in which developers write and browsers interpret. This code determines how the web page will appear in your browser.

Web pages also rely on image files being loaded simultaneously within your browser. The code contains links to these image files, which your computer downloads and then stores temporarily so that it can display them with the web page. That is why if you ever save a web page from the Internet it will likely include several files and folders, including quite a few images.

Overall, the amount of technology that goes into displaying a web page is quite impressive. It is even more impressive how many millions of times a day all of the technology functions in sync to bring users around the world the World Wide Web. Without years of work from countless people, we would not have the Internet as we know it today.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

There are many reasons why you might change name servers for your website. Generally speaking it is because you are changing from one web host to another, upgrading from a shared web hosting plan or to a VPS web hosting plan. Changing your DNS Nameservers is fairly easy and can be done through the client area of our website.

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As a rule when you change Name Servers or Domain Name Systems (DNS) it can take up to 48 hours for the updates to take affect across the internet. The propagation time to migrate name servers varies due to several reasons beyond the control of your web host company.

Factors affecting Name Server propagation time:

➤ Factor #1- ISP: Every ISP such as Telstra or iiNet cache DNS records to speed up the world’s websites. Some ISPs only update their caches every 2-3 days meaning if you change name servers it may take some computers several days to pick up the new cache. This means your computer might reflect the new website address, whilst your neighbour might be looking at the old website!

➤ Factor #2- Domain Name Registry- Domain name registries are companies that record ownership of the world’s domain names. If you own a domain name you would have received a certificate stating that you are owner of a particular domain name. Some domain name registries update their records every few minutes, others take 24 hours as they have greater security features. This can ensure websites can’t get hacked and domain name transfers happen before the actual owner of the website realizes.

➤ Factor #3- TTL Settings (Time to Live)- TTL is the time your website servers cache information for DNS records. You can adjust your TTL speeds within your DNS/ CPanel dashboard to increase your propagation time but shorter time periods mean the number of queries to your server increases so you’re actually slowing down your website. Personally, I’d avoid touching your TTL settings unless you really know what you’re doing.

Tuesday 19 September 2017

As you are selecting a domain name for your website, you may find that there are several different options available to you. Top level domains, .com, .net and .org are the most popular, and as such, the hardest to find. Second level domains, .tv, .info, .biz and others, are less popular and you may be able to find the name you want in a second level domain, even if the top level names are already taken. However, there are some important things to consider before taking this step.

First, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Internet users automatically associate .com when they think of a domain name. If you are relying on name recognition for your domain name and using it heavily in your advertising, a user may not remember that your site has a second level domain, making it impossible for them to find you. Instead, they may be finding your competition and forget your site entirely.

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Second, if your desired domain name is not available with a .com extension, but has the .net or .org or second level extensions available, you will need to weigh your options carefully before purchasing a domain with this available extension. First, is the .com domain name trademarked? If a company has trademarked their domain name, you can be getting yourself into a very large legal problem if you register the same name with a different extension.

In addition to trademark issues, you will need to make sure that you are not engaging in domain name hijacking by registering a popular domain name with a second level extension. Again, you can be getting yourself into a legal battle that you may not be able to win. Even if this is not your intention, the company that owns the top level domain may not agree with you and you can end up in the middle of a very large hassle.

Thirdly, second level domains can cost more to register than top level domains. Before spending money on a second level domain, it is important to consider the above mentioned points regarding domain name recognition and see if this is worth the extra money. You may be better served by finding a top level domain that is available rather than purchasing a domain name that does not have good user recognition.

Fourth, if you are purchasing your domain name for a business website, it is important to have a top level domain to appear as professional as possible. There is somewhat of a stigma associated with second level domains and you would be much better off with a top level extension.

A domain name is the name that most Internet users will associate with your company or your website. It is important to have this domain name be as easy to remember as possible, which commonly means selecting a top level extension. If the domain name you want is not available, try looking for different variations until you find the domain that is right for you.


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