Web Lingo 101: IP Addresses, Hosting, Domains and FTP
Even if you use the internet every single day, you might not understand the the inner workings of the web. When See3 builds websites for our clients, many of them have questions about how all the different digital elements come together to produce one great site.
Here are answers to frequently asked questions we've received from nonprofits and social causes about what it takes to get their website up and running.
What is an IP address and how does it work?
An IP address is 4-number address separated by a period (e.g., 220.127.116.11). You can find out the IP address that you are using to connect to the internet using a website like What is My IP. An IP address allows your computer to communicate with other computers over the internet, much like you cell phone number allows your to call your friends and family. Any computer or device connected to the internet must have an IP address, since it uniquely identifies your machine on the web.
What does FTP mean?
FTP stands for file transfer protocol. Your FTP username and password allow you to connect to the space on your host server and upload your files – read on for more about what a hosting server is and does. With FTP, you can easily transfer your website from your computer to your web hosting account and onto the web. Once your files are uploaded using the FTP, other people can access them via your IP address.
What is the relationship between my website and IP address?
If you have a website on your computer and you want everyone on the internet to able able to access it, they need to know your address in order to communicate with your machine. To do this, you need a static IP address that does not change over time.
Hosting is the practice of maintaining website files on a machine. You rarely want to host your website files on your own machine because it would take up too much space, so you can use a hosting specialist company like Host My Site to buy a space on the internet to host your files.
In order to give the hosting site access to your files, you need to provide the following information:
- The IP Address of the computer that you will host your files on.
- The FTP username and password.
If you chose a dedicated server hosting plan, you will be provided a Remote Desktop Connection username and password. This will allow you to use the IP address and your username and password to connect to the server from your machine.
How are my IP address and domain name connected?
Once you’ve chosen your hosting site, you can upload your files on this server and start using the IP address to access your website. Since you can’t expect internet users to memorize your IP address, you need a domain name. The domain name provider will allow you to buy a name like facebook.com, google.com or see3.com. You can use a domain name provider like GoDaddy to purchase a domain name. When buying your domain name, you might be prompted to provide the hosting server with your IP address, which starts the process of linking your IP address with your new domain name. The domain provider will give you a username and password for the domain management system so that you can edit the IP address of your domain at any time.
To sum things up: In order to host your website on the internet, you need a web server with an IP address to store your files, and you need a website name that is linked to your IP address so that people can easily find you online. You can work with a hosting company to purchase a server on the internet with a static IP address, and domain provider to purchase a name on the internet that redirects to your server IP address.
What other web lingo would you like explained? Let us know in the comments and we’ll respond ASAP!
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