Web hosting Frequently Asked Questions
Please review this list of frequently asked questions, and do not hesitate to contact us if you have more questions or if you are uncertain about something.
This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) is not specific to Cozahost but a general guide to non-technical questions often asked about hosting.
What is web hosting?
Web hosting is the service provided by an ISP (web host) to publish your web pages on the internet.
In order for your web pages to be visible on the internet, a web server (hardware and software) must be permanently connected to the internet so that it can send pages to people who request them.
In it's simplest form (sending HTML pages when requested), hosting is neither complicated nor expensive, but the trend is to build more sophisticated web sites with dynamic (automatically changing) content.
Dynamic content sites are made possible by web servers able to execute scripting computer languages such as ASP, ASP.NET, PHP or PERL. In most cases scripting languages also require access to some form of database to retrieve and store information like catalogue items, user names and passwords and so on.
The role of your ISP is to maintain the web server, keep it secure (protect your site from malicious damage or viruses), keep it online on the internet, and to provide you with technical support and advice.
What is web or internet marketing?
Web marketing is the science, magic and skill of firstly marketing your web site on the internet and secondly to motivate visitors to your web site to buy your product or service.
A very important part of web marketing is to ensure that your web page is "visible" to search engines, in other words, when a potential customer searches for "blue widgets", your site must be listed on the first page if that is your line of business.
At Cozahost we supply extensive help from experienced web marketers to ensure your web site is optimized to the keywords of your choice (we use sophisticated software to analyze your pages) and we provide a free 297 ebook explaining all the fundamentals of web marketing.
How does one "publish" a web site?
Web sites are "published" (ie made available on the internet) by uploading
files from your PC to the server.
Most people use HTML authoring software such as Microsoft FrontPage or Dreamweaver to design web pages on their PCs. Once this design process is completed, the pages must be sent (published) to their web server to be made visible to the internet.
While almost all web authoring software enables one to publish pages by using FTP (file transfer protocol), Microsoft FrontPage uses a simpler but proprietary publishing mechanism. If your web host installs FrontPage server extensions on your web server, the process of publishing your web site becomes as simple as pressing a button in your web design software.
Naturally your web server will require you to supply a user id and password (supplied by your ISP) before it allows you to publish to the server.
How often can I update my site?
As often as you can build new content.
There are no limits on how often you can update your site, in fact, it is a good idea to update at least once a month by adding new information, removing old or outdated info and making sure that everything is current.
This will not only improve your search engine position, but it will also ensure that first time visitors are never "turned-off" by old or incorrect information. ("Dead" web sites with old and out of date information is a sure-fire way to loose potential clients)
What is a "web page" and HTML?
A web page is a text file containing HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language)
HTML "commands" instruct web browsers how to display a page, ie fonts, bold, underline, set margins and so on.
In most cases you will never have to work with or understand HTML because most modern web page editor software "hides" HTML completely by presenting you with a what-you-see-is-what-you-get interface - almost as if you are working in a word processor program.
There are a great many resources on the internet to help you with site design and writing web pages - but the basics are a no-brainer. Given the right software you will be producing a web page in 5 minutes.
How will people find my web site?
This is the essence of web marketing, and quite an evolved subject. For the
sake of brevity we can cover only the basics here - see the rest of the Cozahost
site if you need more information, or contact us.
If you have an established business, you will draw visitors to your site by publishing your web address (eg: www.cozahost.com ) on your business cards, letterheads and everywhere where you would normally publish contact information.
In addition to this both new and established businesses list their sites with the major search engines (www.google.com, www.yahoo.com, www.altavista.com, www.msn.com, etc) by visiting the engine and filling in a form asking to be "indexed" because while your site is new, people will mainly find your site by searching for keywords on search engines.
There are several issues involved with getting a good listing on the engines - like selecting the "right" keywords for your site, optimizing your pages so that the search engine software rates them as important, etc. These are not computer technical issues, but they do require careful and creative analysis of what you intend to achieve with your web site and who your target market (or audience) is.
(Your ISP should be able to do this for you or provide help if you need it. At Cozahost we provide articles and e-books to help you understand the process, hands-on direct and practical help to improve your listing and we will list your site on your behalf on the major search engines if requested)
How / where do I find an ISP to host my web site?
You are looking at one. ;-)
Other ways of locating a ISP to host your web pages are by asking your friends / contacts for recommendations, or by searching for key phrases like "web hosting south africa" on the search engines.
Evaluate the ISP carefully - your internet business depends on their reliability, service and advice. We always recommend that you contact the ISP before you do business with them. If you have to wait a day before they reply to you...
Visit their web site. Is it friendly fast, and, most importantly, does it contain valuable advice and information or is it a SELL-IN-YOUR-FACE knock-off of a glossy magazine page? In other words, do they understand the issues of doing business on the internet?
Remember: anyone can be an ISP, but only experienced, reputable companies can help YOU be successful.
Last rule of thumb: Don't go for the cheapest service you can find, unless you believe that it is a good strategy to have a haircut at the cheapest place you can find too. :-)
Price and value is not the same thing.
Does it matter where in the world my ISP is located?
Mainly it does not matter, but there are some practical issues you should
Depending on your level of experience with building and maintaining your web site, you may need to be able to telephone your ISP's support department. In this case you need an ISP that is roughly in the same time zone, but preferably in the same country to avoid international telephone costs.
Currency fluctuations and money transfer issues (if you can't use your credit card) may make it difficult or unexpectedly expensive to pay your service provider if they are in a foreign country.
Other than the above issues, there are no technical reasons that would prevent you from selecting an ISP on the other side of the world if you so choose: Even response time is not an issue - for example a Cape Town to Washington transfer would be about 1 or 2 seconds slower than Washington to New York - not a big deal if you are browsing the web.
In some cases you might be forced to host your site in a foreign country to circumvent local laws and regulations.
In South Africa we have very liberal freedoms of speech and expression enshrined in our constitution. Example: hosting a news site in Zimbabwe, North Korea or China might be impossible without censorship, but in South Africa you will be able to publish that content without any problems.
What is an AUP (Acceptable Use Policy)?
An Acceptable Use Policy is a standard set of rules employed by most
reputable ISPs to enforce rules about how their services may or may not be used.
It protects the integrity, security and reliability of the ISPs service and promotes the safe and effective use of the internet for everybody.
(The Cozahost AUP is here.)
Will you help me to design my site?
Sure we will. We provide the technical help and the guidance to build an effective web site, but some of the most important aspects is not technical. For more on this see our website design pages.
Please contact us if you have more questions - we will be happy to assist. :-)