Web Host - Features

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There are many different database systems available for web hosting. The most common are MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, and MS Access. When searching for the right web host you will be assaulted with huge lists of features that the host provides. Many of these items are not important and should be included by default in even the most basic of hosting plans. However, there are a few features that you should pay close attention to.

Most web hosts will give the option to either register a domain name at the time of signup or let you bring your own domain name. Additionaly, check to see how many domain names are supported for an account. If you later choose to own another domain name, it would be nice to be able to add it to an existing plan without having to pay an addional charge.

Sub Domains
A subdomain is sometimes termed a vanity domain, especially when it is a subdomain of an ISP's own domain aliased to an individual user account. However, the term "vanity domain" has other usages, discussed at that article.A sub domain is what appears between the "http://www" and the domain name. For example say example.com has a sub domain "ex" then the address would be "http://www.ex.example.com". Sub domains do not place a burden on the web server, yet many hosting plans will limit the number of sub domains allowed per account. Subdomains are commonly used by organizations that wish to assign a unique name to a particular department, function, or service related to the organization. For example, a university might assign "cs" to the computer science department, such that a number of hosts could be used inside that subdomain, such as mail.cs.example.edu or www.cs.example.edu.

Depending on application, a record inside a domain, or subdomain might refer to a Host name, or a service provided by a number of machines in a cluster.

PHP Version
Free website hosts that allow webmasters to use PHP scripts. Usually the web server provides PHP4 and/or PHP5, but occasionally they even support PHP3 files. Some free PHP hosting servers will even give you free web hosting with free MySQL database. PHP has gone through many revisions, especially in the past year. Be sure that the PHP on the server is up to date, otherwise PHP scripts may not function properly. PHP is currently in the late stages of 4.x and will soon be moving on to version 5.x.

Hot Link Protection
Hot Link Protection allows you to prevent other persons from linking directly to media files located on your web server. When someone tries to link directly to your image it will deny the request, preventing them from using up your bandwidth. This is particularly useful for web sites that host a large quantity of media files. Visitors on your site will still be able to view the media as usual.

FTP Access

You can create, modify and delete FTP accounts from within your control panel. Additional FTP accounts allow you to grant other users FTP access to a specific directory within your account without giving them full access to your site. FTP accounts are only able to access folders that match their login name.

There are two basic types of FTP access to a web server. First is the password protected FTP that is common for webmasters to utilize for managing their web files. Though some web hosts may provide a web interface to upload files without having to use an FTP program, not having direct FTP access to your web files can be burdersome at times.

Anonymous FTP is the other type of FTP access. You can post files to a publicly accessible directory and users may directly connect to your server with anonymous FTP to access these files. No password is required for this type of FTP access.

Note: Depending on the plan's specifications, file transfers over FTP may or may not count against your allotted monthly bandwidth.
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