Publishing Your Web Pages

So far we've been doing all of our HTML coding on our own personal computers. This is a great way to develop a website because it allows you to keep checking, refining, and re-checking your HTML without having to worry about visitors seeing any unfinished web pages.

Once you are completely happy with the way your web pages look and function it is time to get them up on the internet so that you can show them off to people all around the world. This process is called publishing your web pages.

When we publish web pages what we are basically doing is putting our HTML files onto a computer that can be accessed by anybody. These computers are known as web servers. The name server comes from the fact that these computers are designed to do one thing - serve up web pages to their visitors.

It is possible to turn your own computer into a web server and allow people to access your web pages directly. However, this has a number of significant drawbacks. For one thing you need to leave your computer running 24 hours a day if you want to give your visitors round-the-clock access. Secondly you leave your computer vulnerable to attacks from hackers. This is bad enough if you have a computer dedicated to running your website, but it's even worse if you use the same computer to store all your personal files - there's a chance they could be corrupted or accessed by a hacker. Finally unless you run a very low traffic website (i.e. not very many visitors) then our internet connection is unlikely to be fast enough, which will cause your website to load very slowly.

All in all hosting your own websites is a bad idea unless you are an expert at these sort of things. A much better idea is to have somebody else host them for you. That way they deal with all the problems such as protecting your site from hackers, maintaining the computers, and paying the electricity bills! Charges for web hosting vary but you can get a basic hosting package for an extremely reasonable price, or you can even opt for free hosting if you don't mind having a few adverts placed on your site.

Over the coming few pages we'll look at each area of hosting your website and discuss the various options available to you, so that your web pages can be seen by everyone.