Aah… I was feeling somewhat lazy to write this one. There are quite a few guides and blah blah about this topic but I for all time felt the necessity of painless article for beginners.
So, What is website, server, domain, PHP, forums, Blogs, etc.? Regarding this, a lot of people wrote about ‘How to do these Things’. I am writing here about ‘what are these Things?’. If you don’t like or understand something, then don’t blame it on the site. Blame it on me.
To begin with, let’s try to understand the nitty-gritty of a website. Assume you have a file named ‘LAZYMRINAL’ on your system’s drive D with a Shortcut to it on the desktop. Let’s correlate.
Think ‘Drive D or your system’ as a Server (where files are stored on the internet). File LAZYMRINAL is your Website files (all those graphics, sounds, text, scripts file which outputs as Website) and lastly Shortcut on Desktop is your URL (Domain / Web address like www.lazymrinal.com). o URL connects to your server and shows your file, across the globe.
Let’s understand each of them in little detail. (This is what, I am writing for.)
Server is Full-time Online Connected Computer, where all your files are stored. To understand a server in real is a pretty tedious thing.
(You may ask, why I can’t store all files on my system and call it a server? Hell Yes, you can! I never denied it.)
Trouble is; it’s not that simple as it appears. Getting IP, Good connection, security (Cosmic Issue), Configuring Network using software, preparing SQL Database & its connections over a network, etc. Most importantly, you have to keep it online 24/7. Quite a job, huh? So, what now? We rent/purchase Servers from people who are specialists in all this. They offer many facilities and also the maintenance (Vital).
(But What if I don’t have funds? I can’t start a website? Hell, again! I didn’t say that.)
There are Free Web hosts (Servers) for all of us. However, it’s always good to have Paid Server. They don’t have any limitations, blocking and provides great support with latest security features. Some of the best Paid servers are NameCheap, GoDaddy, HostBig, etc. While for free servers you can use Xtreemhost.com, FreeHostia, etc.
There are Shared, Dedicated and VPS kind of servers. Shared are cheap, with less speed and ok for personal blogs etc. Business people and high traffic site must use Dedicated servers.
For Indians facing Credit Card Issue, you can use IBEE Hosting, Indialinks.com and NetSpaceIndia. They accept payments with Debit Cards (including dumb SBI), InterBank Transfers, Wire, Credit Cards, PayPal, etc., and they have great bargains like for domain between Rs. 350 to Rs. 450. For servers, starting from Rs. 30-40/month. That’s cheap man!
Getting a good, Paid/Free Server and not getting into frauds is a major issue. Read here guidelines with details about Basics, Precautions, Solutions, and Comparisons of Servers.
2. Domain / Web address / URL:
Domain names are really important. How people will see your website and files on a secured, locked server when they don’t have any clue about it? URL does that. You link your URL to your Server and server links that to your files (website). You have to register a Domain name and getting it is another headache. It’s like an identity and sits on your head with legal implications. Planning something illegal? Then don’t use your real name or traceable payment methods.
Domains come in many forms like .COM, .ORG, .INFO, .NET, .IN etc. They need to be purchased. There are some, which are free such as ‘.CO.CC’, ‘.CZ.CC’. Many of them are closing free registrations, so you must hurry to register if you want one. However, it’s best to have a .COM domain, then .ORG, .INFO and, .NET. It’ll just cost you INR 450 or $ 9 / year. So it isn’t a big deal. Ending of Website after ‘dot’ generally says what kind of site you have.
Choose Domain name wisely. Try to get a domain with common search terms. They have most important effect on Search Engines. You can screw up your site by having something like www.IJustUtter.com. Lol! For e.g., people search ‘personal review on free web host’ but not ‘‘I Just Utter free web host’.
3. Files / Website / Installation:
So, you got a domain and a server but what the heck are all these HTML, PHP, ASP, WordPress, Drupal, Blogs, Forums, etc. Cool down mate! HTML, ASP and PHP are languages in which websites are built. They have their structures, files and scripts, which execute giving you output of the designed website.
(I don’t know any of these… Now what? Oh, Come on, even I am not an expert in all these.) There are packages of pre-ready websites, which are coded in these languages which you can install (upload to your server) and have a website with default basic functions. E.g. of such are; WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, SMF, PhpBB, vBulletin, IPB, etc. There are around hundred. Many of them are free and some you have to purchase. PHP pages are said to be Dynamic and HTML are Static. Use of HTML is declining and PHP is gaining fame. WordPress, made in PHP is a leader in Blog User category. There are other ways to create a website like using Server provided WYSIWYG editors, Dreamweaver, Word processors, etc. Ok! Who want pain?
4. Difference between Blogs, Forums and CMS:
Above packages are also called as Blogs and Forums software. You can get detail info at Wikipedia. Chiefly, Blogs are One (or Selected) Person to World, i.e. Authors writes, World reads and comments on it. Users / Readers get new info, etc., but they can’t post anything new. It’s a kind of discussion platform but targeted to Interest of Blogger (Admin / Owner). You can’t change anything in Author’s article. E.g.: ‘I Just Utter’ is a blog. Blogs are easier to maintain. They serve a personal point, and you don’t need to be worried for registration and members, etc.
Forums are communicating platforms. Anybody can post new articles, information or discussions. People take part and comment. There are various categories and sub-categories. They can post whatever, they want. So, interest is targeted to Users. They have limited rights and are scrutinized for what they write. As an owner, you can’t go alone posting in forums. You need users. More the member, better it is for a forum. E.g.: ‘www.forum.nokia.com’ is a forum.
CMS is different from Blogs and Forums. You will be amazed to know that you surf CMS most of the time on the internet. A website which displays graphics, music, Shopping sites, Music group and band sites, and NEWS sites, etc. all are CMS. On CMS; you can’t change anything, you can’t comment, discussions don’t take place. You go there, you take / shop whatever you want and leave. E.g.: ? Oh great!!! There are million. Go search. Google News is also a kind of CMS. Sometimes Blogs are integrated with CMS. So don’t start shouting at me, if you see a hybrid.
Now, from where it came here in the midst of all? This part is crucial. Overlook this and you are; you know S***wd. (Hey that’s my Profanity Masking Plug-in. Working great but why blocking me? Dumb Plug-in). Anything you will post or write will be stored by the server on a separate space called Database (DB) space. So here how it works;
PHP Dynamic pages + Data from DB = ‘Post (Article)’. So, collectively using your Website files, the data and article you wrote; is presented and shown as a webpage. Databases are more important as they hold what you wrote and website files are structure (consider them mere theme or layout but can be painful losing them, when you have customized one).
Database format used worldwide and mostly is SQL. Make sure before Server purchase that you have good MySQL and other SQL DB support with lots of space. It is always in 10 MB, 50 MB, 100 MB. What? Not GB? Don’t worry. With 100 posts, you will need around 400 KB.
So, 1 MB can handle up to, at least 300 posts (articles). Hmmm, that means 1 * 30 = 300 * 10 = 3000??? That’s like ages to go on with.
File Transfer Protocol or FTP is a way of uploading/sharing files with a server. We use it here to upload our entire Websites file e.g. WordPress file to a server via Backend. Remember Website hasn’t started yet so there is no frontend. Even after frontend is up, importance and power of Backend will always haunt you. We use FTP uploader like FileZilla to do this. I will explain all of this in WebSite Building post. There are Web based uploaders also like Net2FTP.
If you remember, I said something about linking URL to the server. ‘Domain Name Server’ does that. When you get your server, it gives you some code like “ns1.yourserver.com” and also ns2, ns3 sometimes. You have to access your domain config page (with your domain name provider) and change the DNS Address pointing it to the server. I’ll detail DNS in Website Building post.
That’s enough for now. I am exhausted!