Thursday, July 16, 2009

Web Hosting E-Commerce

If you are selling a product or a service, e-commerce might be a smart way to do business.


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Internet E-Commerce
E-Commerce is about selling products or services over the Internet.


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E-Commerce Systems
It is not a very good idea to build your own e-commerce system. Building an e-commerce system is a complicated process, with the potential for a lot of errors.

You might buy a ready-to-use system and run it on your own server. Many systems are available on the market today, and most of them will cover your basic needs for order management and processing. But again, if you are not familiar with hosting your own web site, starting with an e-commerce site is not the right thing.

The best solution, in our opinion, is to find an ISP that offers an e-commerce solution.


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E-Commerce and Hosting Providers
E-commerce covers a huge range of products. With different ISPs you will find anything from very simple to very complex solutions.

Most ISPs offer a simple and inexpensive solution, that allow you to run a "virtual store".


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Your Checklist
How does it handle customers?
How does it handle product catalogs?
How does it handle orders?
How does it handle inventory?
How does it handle back orders?
How does it handle shipment?
How does it handle accounts?
How does it handle billing?
How does it handle payment?
How does it handle foreign currency?
How does it handle credit cards?
How does it handle taxes?
How does it handle security?
How does it handle integrity (encryption)?
Also check if the most time-consuming tasks are automated. Look for automated billing, invoice handling, accounting, and report generation.

Before you sign up with an ISP, surf some other e-commerce sites on their servers. Find out how it works. Try some shopping, and see if you get a good feeling. Also compare the other sites against yours, to see if it looks like you have the same needs. Contacting some of the other customers is also a valuable option.


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Tax Issues
Taxes is a complex issue for on-line stores. Especially VAT (Value Added Tax).

If you are selling on-line, you will most likely be in the export business.

Exporting goods may not be the subject of VAT in your country, but often your customers will have to pay their local VAT when they pick up the goods.

In addition, there will be the issue of income tax for your shop, depending on how you report your income from sales.

Before starting an on-line store, be sure to consult a tax adviser.


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Web Hosting Types

Hosting can be FREE, SHARED or DEDICATED.


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Free Hosting
Some ISPs offer free web hosting.

Free web hosting is best suited for small sites with low traffic, like personal sites. It is not recommended for high traffic or for real business. Technical support is often limited, and technical options are few.

Very often you cannot use your own domain name at a free site. You have to use a name provided by your host like http://www.freesite.com/users/~yoursite.htm. This is hard to type, hard to remember, and not very professional.

Good:
Low cost. It's free.
Good for family, hobby or personal sites.
Free email is often an option.

Bad:
No domain names.
Few, limited, or no software options.
Limited security options.
Limited or no database support.
Limited technical support.


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Shared (Virtual) Hosting
Shared hosting is very cost effective.

With shared hosting, your web site gets its own domain name, and is hosted on a powerful server along with maybe 100 other web sites.

Shared solutions often offer multiple software solutions like e-mail, database, and different editing options. Technical support tends to be good.

Good:
Low cost. Cost is shared with others.
Good for small business and average traffic.
Multiple software options.
Own domain name.
Good support

Bad:
Reduced security due to many sites on one server.
Restricted software support.
Restricted database support.
Restrictions on traffic volume.

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Dedicated Hosting
With dedicated hosting, your web site is hosted on a dedicated server.

Dedicated hosting is the most expensive option. This option is best suited for large web sites with high traffic, and web sites that use special software.

You should expect dedicated hosting to be very powerful and secure, with almost unlimited software solutions.

Good:
Good for large business.
Good for high traffic.
Multiple domain names.
Powerful email solutions.
Powerful database support.
Strong (unlimited) software support.


Bad:
Expensive.
Requires higher skills.

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Collocated Hosting
Collocation means "co-location". Collocated hosting lets you place your own web server on the premises (locations) of a service provider.

This is pretty much the same as running your own server in your own office, only that it is located at a place better designed for it.

Most likely an ISP will have dedicated resources like high-security against fire and vandalism, regulated backup power, dedicated Internet connections and more.

Good:
High bandwidth.
High up-time.
High security.
Unlimited software options.

Bad:
Expensive.
Requires higher skills.
Harder to configure and debug.

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Your Checklist
Before you choose your web host, make sure that:

The hosting type suits your needs
The hosting type is cost effective
Upgrading to a better server is possible
If needed, upgrading to a dedicated server is possible
Before you sign up with an ISP, surf some other web sites on their servers, and try to get a good feeling about their network speed. Also compare the other sites against yours, to see if it looks like you have the same needs. Contacting some of the other customers is also a valuable option.


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Example: eUKhost
eUKhost is a leading web hosting company in the United Kingdom.

eUKhost offers services including:

Shared Hosting
Reseller Hosting
VPS Hosting
Dedicated Servers
24/7/365 Support
on Linux and Windows platforms, powered by control panels such as cPanel/WHM, Plesk and DotNetPanel.

An account can be setup within a few minutes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Web Hosting Database Technologies

MS SQL Server or Oracle for high traffic database-driven web sites.

MySQL for low-cost database-access.

MS Access for low traffic web sites.


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Web Databases
If your web site needs to update large quantities of information via the web, you will need a database to store your information.

There are many different database systems available for web hosting. The most common are MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, and MS Access.


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Using the SQL Language
SQL is the language for accessing databases.

If you want your web site to be able to store and retrieve data from a database, your web server should have access to a database-system that uses the SQL language.

If you want to learn more about SQL, please visit our SQL tutorial.


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SQL Server
Microsoft's SQL Server is a popular database software for database-driven web sites with high traffic.

SQL Server is a very powerful, robust and full featured SQL database system.


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Oracle
Oracle is also a popular database software for database-driven web sites with high traffic.

Oracle is a very powerful, robust and full featured SQL database system.


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MySQL
MySQL is also a popular database software for web sites.

MySQL is a very powerful, robust and full featured SQL database system.

MySQL is an inexpensive alternative to the expensive Microsoft and Oracle solutions.


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Access
When a web site requires only a simple database, Microsoft Access can be a solution.

Access is not well suited for very high-traffic, and not as powerful as MySQL, SQL Server, or Oracle.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Web Hosting Technologies

This section describes some of the most common hosting technologies.


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Windows Hosting
Windows hosting means hosting of web services that runs on the Windows operating system.

You should choose Windows hosting if you plan to use ASP (Active Server Pages) as server scripting, or if you plan to use a database like Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL Server. Windows hosting is also the best choice if you plan to develop your web site using Microsoft Front Page.


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Unix Hosting
Unix hosting means hosting of web services that runs on the Unix operating system.

Unix was the first (original) web server operating system, and it is known for being reliable and stable. Often less expensive than Windows.


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Linux Hosting
Linux hosting means hosting of web services that runs on the Linux operating system.


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CGI
CGI scripts are executables that will execute on the server to produce dynamic and interactive web pages.

Most ISPs offer some kind of CGI capabilities. ISPs often offer preinstalled, ready to run, guest-books, page-counters, and chat-forums solutions in CGI.

CGI is most common on Unix or Linux servers.


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ASP - Active Server Pages
ASP is a server-side scripting technology developed by Microsoft.

With ASP you can create dynamic web pages by putting script code inside your HTML pages. The code is executed by the web server before the page is returned to the browser. Both VBScript and JavaScript can be used.

ASP is a standard component in Windows 95,98, 2000, and XP. It can be activated on all computers running Windows.

If you want to learn more about ASP, please visit our ASP tutorial.


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PHP
PHP is the widely-used, free, and efficient alternative to competitors such as Microsoft's ASP.

PHP is perfectly suited for Web development, and can be embedded directly into the HTML code.

The PHP syntax is very similar to Perl and C.

PHP is often used together with Apache (web server) on various operating systems. It also supports ISAPI and can be used with Microsoft's IIS on Windows.

PHP supports many databases, such as MySQL, Informix, Oracle, Sybase, Solid, PostgreSQL, Generic ODBC, etc.

If you want to learn more about PHP, please visit our PHP tutorial.


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JSP
JSP is a server-side technology much like ASP, developed by Sun.

With JSP you can create dynamic web pages by putting Java code inside your HTML pages. The code is executed by the web server before the page is returned to the browser.

Since JSP uses Java, the technology is not restricted to any server-specific platform.


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Cold Fusion
Cold Fusion is another server-side scripting language used to develop dynamic web pages.

Cold Fusion is developed by Macromedia.


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Chili!Soft ASP
Microsoft's ASP technology runs only on Windows platforms.

However, Chili!Soft ASP is a software product that allows ASP to run on UNIX and some other platforms.


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Microsoft FrontPage
FrontPage is a website design tool developed by Microsoft.

FrontPage allows users to develop a web site without any deep knowledge of web development.

Most Windows hosting solutions support FrontPage server extensions for users that use FrontPage to develop their web site.

If you plan to use FrontPage, you should look for a Windows hosting solution.


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Adobe Dreamweaver
Dreamweaver is a website design tool owned by Adobe Systems.

Dreamweaver allow users to develop a web site without any deep knowledge of web development.

Dreamweaver has support for web technologies such as CSS, JavaScript, ASP.NET, ColdFusion, JavaServer Pages, and PHP.

Dreamweaver is available for both Mac and Windows operating systems.


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Secure Server
A secure server can transmit data encrypted.

If you plan to do online creditcard transactions, or other types of web communication that needs to be protected against unauthorized access, your ISP must provide a secure server.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Web Hosting E-mail Services

Hosting services should include e-mail accounts and e-mail services.


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E-mail Accounts
Hosting solutions should include e-mail accounts for each person in your company.

E-mail addresses should appear something like this:

john@mycompany.com

john.doe@mycompany.com

jdoe@mycompany.com


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POP E-mail
POP stands for Post Office Protocol. POP is a standard client/server protocol for sending and receiving e-mail.

The e-mails are received and held on your internet server until you pick it up with a client e-mail program, like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird.


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IMAP Email
IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. IMAP is another standard protocol for sending and receiving e-mail.

The e-mails are received, and held on your internet server, until you pick it up with a client e-mail program, like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird.

IMAP represents an improvement over POP because e-mail stored on an IMAP server can be manipulated from several computers (a computer at home, a workstation at the office, etc.), without having to transfer messages back and forth between computers. POP was designed to support e-mail access on one single computer.


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Web-based E-mail
Web-based e-mail services enable you to access your e-mail via a web browser. You log into your e-mail account via the Web to send and retrieve e-mail. Being able to access your e-mail from any browser anywhere in the world is a very attractive option.

Examples of web-based e-mail services are Gmail and Hotmail.


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E-mail Forwarding
E-mail forwarding allows you to have multiple e-mail personalities.

With e-mail forwarding, you can setup aliases for other e-mail accounts like:

postmaster@mycompany.com should be forwarded to peter@mycompany.com

sales@mycompany.com should be forwarded to mary@mycompany.com


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Mailing Lists
Some service providers offer mailing list capabilities. This is valuable if you plan to send out e-mails to a large number of users.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Web Hosting Capacities

Make sure you get the disk space and the traffic volume you need.


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How Much Disk Space?
A small or medium web site will need between 10 and 100MB of disk space.

If you look at the size of HTML pages, you will see that the average size is very small. But if you look at the size of the images used inside these pages, you will often find the images larger than the page.

Expect each HTML page to take up between 5 and 50KB of disk space on your web server, depending on the use of images or other space-consuming elements.

If you use a lot of images or graphic elements (or sound files or movies), you might need much more disk space.

Make sure you know your needs, before choosing a web host.


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Monthly Traffic
A small or medium web site will consume between 1GB and 5GB of data transfer per month.

Calculate the following: average page size * expected page views per month

Example: If your average page size is 30KB and you expect 50,000 page views per month, you will need 0.03MB * 50,000 = 1.5GB.

Larger, commercial sites often consume more than 100GB of monthly traffic.

Before you sign up with a host provider, make sure to check this:

What are the restrictions on monthly transfer?
Will the web site be closed if it exceeds the volume?
Will you be billed a fortune if the web site exceeds the volume?
Is upgrading a simple task?

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Connection Speed
In the early days of the Internet a T1 connection was considered a fast connection. Today connection speeds are much faster.

1 byte equals to 8 bits (and that's the number of bits used to transport one character). Low-speed modems can transport from about 14 000 to 56 000 bits per second (14 to 56 kilobits per second). That is somewhere between 2000 and 7000 characters per second, or about 1 to 5 pages of written text.

One kilobit (Kb) is 1024 bits. One megabit (Mb) is 1024 kilobits. One gigabit (Gb) is 1024 megabits.

These are connection speeds used on the Internet today:

Name Connection Speed per second
Modem Analog 14.4-56Kb
D0 Digital (ISDN) 64Kb
T1 Digital 1.55Mb
T3 Digital 43Mb
OC-1 Optical Carrier 52Mb
OC-3 Optical Carrier 156Mb
OC-12 Optical Carrier 622Mb
OC-24 Optical Carrier 1.244Gb
OC-48 Optical Carrier 2.488Gb

Before you sign up with a host provider, surf some other web sites on their servers, and try to get a good feeling about their network speed. Also compare the other sites against yours, to see if it looks like you have the same needs. Contacting some of the other customers is also a valuable option.

Web Hosting Domain Names

A domain name is a unique name for your web site.

Choosing a hosting solution should include domain name registration.

Your domain name should be easy to remember and easy to type.


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What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is a unique name for a web site, like w3schools.com.

Domain names must be registered. When domain names are registered, they are added to a large domain name register. In addition, information about the web site, including the IP address, is stored on a DNS server.

DNS stands for Domain Name System. A DNS server is responsible for informing all other computers on the Internet about the domain name and the web site address.


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Registering a Domain
Domains can be registered from domain name registration companies.

These companies provide interfaces to search for available domain names, and they offer a variety of domain name extensions that can be registered at the same time.


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Choosing a Domain Name
Choosing a domain name is a major step for any individual or organization.

New domain name extensions and creative thinking still offer thousands of excellent domain names!

When choosing a name, it is important to consider the purpose of a domain name, which is to provide an easy way to reach your web site.

The best domains have the following characteristics:

Short - People don't like to type! A short domain name is easier to type, read, and remember.

Meaningful - A short domain is nothing without meaning, 34i4nh.com is not easy to enter or to remember. Select a domain that relates to your site in a way that people will understand.

Clear - Clarity is important when selecting a domain name. Avoid a name that is difficult to spell or pronounce.

Exposure - Names that are short and easy to remember are an asset. In addition to visitors, also consider search engines. Search engines index your site and rank it for relevance against terms people search for. In order to maximize your sites exposure, consider including a relevant search term in your domain. Of course, only consider this if it still maintains a short, clear and meaningful domain name.


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Sub Domains
Most people are unaware that they use sub domains daily. The famous "www" of the World Wide Web is an example of a sub domain. Sub domains can be created on a DNS server, and they don't need to be registered with a domain name registrar, of course, the original domain name needs to be registered before a sub domain could be created.

Examples of sub domains used on the internet are http://store.apple.com and http://support.microsoft.com.

Sub domains can be requested from your web hosting provider.


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False Domain Names - Directory Listings
Some providers will offer you a name under their own name, like: www.theircompany.com/yourcompany/

This is not a real domain name, it is a directory - and you should try to avoid it.

Directory domains are not desirable, especially for companies.

Typically, directory domains are used for personal web sites and free web sites provided by an ISP, you may have seen www.theircompany.com/~username as an address.

Competition in domain name registration has resulted in a dramatic decrease in pricing, so domain sharing is not common, since it is possible to register a domain name for only $15 per year.


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Expired Domains
Another source for domain registrations is expired domains.

When you register a domain, think of it as a rental, assuming there are no legal or trademark issues with the domain name, you are free to use it as long as you continue to pay the yearly fee (you can now register in advance as many as 10 years). Some people register domains as speculators, hoping that they can later sell them, while others may have planned to use a domain and never had the time. The result is that domains that were previously registered, become available again.

You can see, and search through a list of recently expired domains for free at http://www.dotdnr.com. If you wish to register an expired domain, you pay the same fee as for a new registration.


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Use Your Domain Name
After you have chosen and registered your own domain name, make sure you use it on all your web pages, and on all your correspondence, like e-mail and traditional mail.

It is important to let other people be aware of your domain name, and to inform your partners and customers about your web site.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Web Hosting Providers

To make your web site visible to the world, you'll have to store it on a web server.


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Hosting your own Web site
Hosting your web site on your own server is always an option. Here are some points to consider:

Hardware Expenses
To run a "real" web site, you will have to buy some powerful server hardware. Don't expect that a low cost PC will do the job. You will also need a permanent (24 hours a day ) high-speed connection.

Software Expenses
Remember that server-licenses often are higher than client-licenses. Also note that server-licenses might have limits on number of users.

Labor Expenses
Don't expect low labor expenses. You have to install your own hardware and software. You also have to deal with bugs and viruses, and keep your server constantly running in an environment where "everything could happen".


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Using an Internet Service Provider
Renting a server from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a common option.

Most small companies store their web site on a server provided by an ISP. Here are some advantages:

Connection Speed
Most ISPs have very fast connections to the Internet.

Powerful Hardware
ISPs often have powerful web servers that can be shared by several companies. You can also expect them to have an effective load balancing, and necessary backup servers.

Security and Stability
ISPs are specialists on web hosting. Expect their servers to have more than 99% up time, the latest software patches, and the best virus protection.


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Things to Consider with an ISP
24-hour support
Make sure your ISP offers 24-hours support. Don't put yourself in a situation where you cannot fix critical problems without having to wait until the next working day. Toll-free phone could be vital if you don't want to pay for long distance calls.

Daily Backup
Make sure your ISP runs a daily backup routine, otherwise you may lose some valuable data.

Traffic Volume
Study the ISP's traffic volume restrictions. Make sure that you don't have to pay a fortune for unexpected high traffic if your web site becomes popular.

Bandwidth or Content Restrictions
Study the ISP's bandwidth and content restrictions. If you plan to publish pictures or broadcast video or sound, make sure that you can.

E-mail Capabilities
Make sure your ISP supports the e-mail capabilities you need.

Front Page Extensions
If you use FrontPage to develop your web site, make sure your ISP supports FrontPage server extensions.

Database Access
If you plan to use data from databases on your web site, make sure your ISP supports the database access you need.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Web Hosting Introduction

How does the Internet work? How can I have my own Web Site?

What is a Web Host? What is an Internet Service Provider?


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What is the World Wide Web?
The Web is a network of computers all over the world.
All the computers in the Web can communicate with each other.
All the computers use a communication protocol called HTTP.

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How does the WWW work?
Web information is stored in documents called web pages.
Web pages are files stored on computers called web servers.
Computers reading the web pages are called web clients.
Web clients view the pages with a program called a web browser.
Popular browsers are Internet Explorer and Firefox.

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How does a Browser Fetch a Web Page?
A browser fetches a page from a web server by a request.
A request is a standard HTTP request containing a page address.
An address may look like this: http://www.example.com/default.htm.

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How does a Browser Display a Web Page?
All web pages contain instructions for display.
The browser displays the page by reading these instructions.
The most common display instructions are called HTML tags.
HTML tags look like this

This is a paragraph.

.
If you want to learn more about HTML, please visit our HTML tutorial.


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What is a Web Server?
The collection of all your web pages is called your web site.
To let others view your web pages, you must publish your web site.
To publish your work, you must copy your site to a web server.
Your own PC can act as a web server if it is connected to a network.
Most common is to use an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

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What is an Internet Service Provider?
ISP stands for Internet Service Provider.
An ISP provides Internet Services.
A common Internet service is web hosting.
Web hosting means storing your web site on a public server.
Web hosting normally includes email services.
Web hosting often includes domain name registration.

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Summary
If you want other people to view your web site, you must copy your site to a public server.

Even if you can use your own PC as a web server, it is more common to let an Internet Service Provider (ISP) host your site.

Included in a Web hosting solution you can expect to find domain name registration and standard email services.

You can read more about domain name registration, email and other services in the next chapters of this tutorial.