| About Us
| Featured Articles
| Summer 2012 Contest
| Live Sessions
What is Web Hosting
With the previously discussed closure of InkBlazers, there are many authors looking for a new home to move to. While several are going to Tapastic, there are still some who may want to break free of reliance on communities for their primary source of income, and create their own websites.
Web Hosting is, in a nutshell, a service-based where you get space on someone else's server to display (host) your own website.
When you buy web hosting services from a company, you are essentially buying your own little piece of the Internet.
There are other ways to have a presence on the Internet, but having your own website allows you greater control over how things look and work.
Most paid web hosting offer things such as the following in their packages:
Space for your website*
Access to the website files using FTP
The ability to access your website using a domain name
The ability to utilize scripting languages such as PHP or ASP.NET
Access to SQL-based databases
Access to create email addresses with their packages*Many webhosts will say that they offer "Unlimited" space or bandwidth, thanks to the way their servers are configured. In the fine print, most of these hosts actually have a disclaimer stating that their Unlimited Resources Policy applies only to files meant for your website, and not for storing or sharing files that aren't a part of your site. If you are found in violation of these policies, they may contact you. But what does all that mean?
Here's a brief breakdown of some terms and acronyms you might see in use by a webhost:
Domain name - This is the .com/.net/.org address that people use to access your website. For example: Deviantart.com is the domain name for deviantArt; and if you had a comic, you could have a domain name of myawesomecomic.net. While a domain name is not required to have hosting, it's VERY
helpful to have one for your website. If you're going for a recognizable way to put yourself out there, it's almost vital.
Linux vs Windows - These are two different operating systems used for Web Hosting. Usually, you don't want to pick your hosting based on the operating system (unless you're looking at a private server), but rather on what is supported in the environment.
Apache vs IIS - These, like the above, are two different web server software options which are very popular. Apache is what you'll see 99% of the time on a Linux box, and occasionally on a Windows server. Windows servers often use IIS, which supports the ASP.NET framework. Both server software options have the ability to run PHP.
IIS is exclusive to Windows, while Apache can run on both operating systems.
PHP - This is a popular scripting language which is used for software like WordPress and Joomla.
ASP (ASP.NET) - ASP is Microsoft's scripting language, which natively runs on Windows server installations with IIS.
SQL Database - This is a family of databases which use a similar architecture and syntax for executing queries. The two most common types in webhosting are MySQL (commonly run on Linux) and MSSQL (runs on Windows). Most software will tell you what type of SQL database you need, and usually will provide minimum version requirements.
FTP - File transfer protocol. This is how you move files between your computer and your website.
Do I want my own website?
What can you do with your own site? Pretty much anything. You get to choose the content and appearance, and also are able to decide who can do what (to an extent).
It can be pretty convenient!
On the other hand, you actually have to maintain the website. If you're running software like WordPress, it's important to periodically check if it's up to-date, like you would for your own computer. Your webhost will most likely NOT maintain or update your website for you. (They may update the server, though.)
If you write your own code, it goes almost without saying that you may need to update it periodically as the server is updated.
Google has an article over at their WebMaster Academy
which also goes over the pros and cons of having your own webspace.
Once you decide if you want your own website, it's time to choose your package and your host.
What kinds of web hosting are there?
There's three main types of hosting out there:
Shared Hosting, Virtual Private Server Hosting, and Dedicated.
Most of these packages come in two flavors: Linux, or Windows.
Shared Hosting is where a company charges relatively cheap rates to put a bunch of customers on one server. It's like the apartments of web hosting. This is great for websites that don't get a lot of traffic. Be aware, however, if someone's being a bad "neighbor," it can affect the performance of your site! Most shared hosting pakcages don't require you to interact with the server, and come with a control panel interface, such as cPanel or the Parallels Panel.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting is like having your own townhouse. You get more control over the environment, and a lot of space. Most webhosts won't manage the server itself for you (unless they say they do). In return, you get the freedom to make changes to your system to do what you want!
Dedicated Server hosting is like having your own house. Depending on the company you go with, you may get to customize your build - though you don't own the hardware.
Other types of hosting you'll see are Cloud hosting, which allows you to pay for resources you use by the hour (or for a longer term, depending on the provider), and colocation, where you send your own server to a datacenter.Well, that's all fine and dandy, what if I want MacOS For my server?
Work that out with your hosting company, but be aware that MacOS isn't a typical option for hosting. You'd likely be responsible for the configuration and maintenance of such a system.
...And if you're asking for that, you probably
aren't the target audience of this article.
Okay, I have hosting! How do I set up a comic?
Getting into setting up a webcomic might be a little bit out of the scope of this article - but I'll list the two main options below:
1. Create each page for a comic using HTML & CSS - This is awesome if you want to have full control over the layout of each page. One comic that does this to great effect is Unsounded
(NSFW at times) - where some panels just burst out of the page and into the layout.
2. Use a Content Management System - This allows you to upload your comic using blogging software, and you usually don't need to worry about code at all. Using a content management system (CMS) comes with its own pitfalls, however -- so this is something you would need to make sure is up-to-date regularly. I've listed a few options below:
WordPress with any of the following:
ComicPress OR Comic Easel
*WordPress comes with its own set of issues, so if you choose to go this route, you may want to look at this quick article: sta.sh/01xeiuxjl5kn
WebcomicX - This is a C#-based CMS, which requires a Windows-based environment. By the looks of it, this is best run on an Azure-based cloud server.
Graffito for Joomla - If you don't want to use WordPress, Joomla might be of use! Grafitto seems to be best with an older version of Joomla, so tread carefully.
Not yet released but worth a watch:
Grawlix CMS - Rumor has it that a beta is coming soon!
That's pretty much it! Once you get set up, start posting comics and have fun! Having your own site can be its own reward, so it's definitely worth a shot if you're willing to put in the time and effort!
Happy New Year, and enjoy making comics!Disclaimer:
This article is intended for informational purposes only, and does not constitute technical support.
You should reach out to the technical support team of the service or software provider you are using with respect to any particular issue you may be experiencing.