Lesson 7 - Website Administration

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Lesson 7 - Website Administration

If you are hired as a web designer, your client will most likely expect you do more than just create their website. They will expect you to also know how to get their website up and running online. In order to do this you will need to know how to identify an available domain name and acquire that domain name. You will need to know about web servers and how to select a server to host your website, and how to manage the server once the site is on it. And you will need to know how to transfer your website to the web server. This lesson will give you the information you need to accomplish each of these items,

Setting Up Your Domain Name

Whois Domain Name Search

If you are designing a site for a business or for an organization, you will need to register a domain name. Your domain name is the name of your web site that visitors will type into their web browser.

Getting a domain name is NOT the same as website hosting. When you register a domain name all you are really doing is buying the right to use a particular name, or url, and the url will direct your visitors to the web host where your website resides.

Many companies will offer to both register your domain name and host your website. You should not register your domain name with the same company that host your website.

The first step to getting a domain name is to select a name that has not already been taken. You will then need to select a company to register your domain name through, called a register. Most of the problems that are had are with the hosting company because there are more factors involved with the web host. You may need to switch to a server with more features or downgrade your server, or you may be having problems with your server going down. All these are reasons for you to switch hosting companies. If your domain is registered with a different company, then you just need to setup a new hosting account and cancel your old account. Most domain registers will have a management feature where you can log in and enter the Name Servers, sometimes called DNS servers, which indicate where your site is hosted.

By keeping the two separate you will save yourself a lot of trouble and possible downtime of your site should you need to change one or the other. It is easy to change companies that hosts your site, however it is difficult process to move your domain name registration to another register.

The example below is a common domain name register's account management screen. The name servers have been outlined in red. The name servers can be easily changed and updated from your account.


When updating your name servers, you want to be sure to enter them exactly as they were provided by your web hosting company. You should receive at least two. Your domain name will not point to your website until you update your name servers with your domain register. Once you enter your name servers, it typically takes about 24 hours for them to take effect and start pointing to your site location.

Once your attach the name servers with your domain name, it will usually take between 24 to 48 hours for browsers to be directed to your server when your web address is entered.

What About Web Servers?

Simulated Web Server

When you build a web site with standard HTML on your own computer, you can view it in your browser, but no one else will be able to view your web site until it has been published on a web server accessible by other computers on the Internet. A web server is a computer that is permanently connected to the Internet that has specifically been set up to allow web sites to be stored and accessed from other computers on the Internet. When you type in a web page address into your browser, a request is sent from your computer to the web server that stores that particular web page, which then retrieves the page and sends it back to your computer for you to view.


When you are deciding on the hosting company for your your web site, you should have a clear understanding of how your site will be used and a little about web servers so you know what you are shopping for. Most hosting companies offer different hosting plans that can range in price from $5 -

$10 per month all the way to to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month. If you are just wanting a web server to practice your web design skills, then a free server will most likely be just fine for you. Free servers usually do not require you to obtain a top level domain name. However, businesses and organizations looking for a more professional presence on the web and advanced hosting features, should consider a paid site. The free sites are usually slower and are supported by ads that appear on your web page, whereas if you pay for your site, you do not have the ads. The pay sites are also more likely to accommodate the individual needs of your site as in features, storage space, and the amount of data that is allowed to be transferred from your web server to visitors, called bandwidth.

There are two types of web servers that you will see when searching for a web host, a shared server, and a dedicated server. A shared server is a server that hosts multiple web sites for many different companies and individuals. Shared servers are good for personal web sites, small businesses, and companies that do not conduct a lot of business over the web. Shared servers are usually very inexpensive because the cost of the server is shared among a lot of other people. On the other hand, companies that are E-commerce based, and conduct a lot of business, or require a lot of bandwidth should consider a dedicated server. Dedicated servers only host your site and you are typically given full control of the server, but the price is usually much higher.

For small websites, or entry level sites, a shared server is just fine. The software installed on the server completely separates each website so it behaves as if your site is the only one its running.

Generally with shared hosting you will still have a control panel where you can manage your account and server features. Because you are sharing a server, your prices is usually much more affordable.

Web Server Operating Systems

Linux (Unix) Windows may work great for your home computer, but when it comes to website hosting, that is not necessarily the case. Over 90% of web hosting servers are not running Windows! Instead, they are using a version of Unix called Linux, which is Open Source and has many different versions. Linux based web servers are less expensive, fast, and very stable which is why they are so popular among web designers. If you are given the choice of operating systems when selected web hosting, unless you have a specific reason for not using a Linux based OS, it will most likely be your best choice.

There are a variety of different distributions of Linux. Some of the more popular versions are CentOS, FreeBSD, and RedHat.

Windows Server Microsoft does have its own operating system designed specifically for web servers. But why do most servers choose to run on Linux or Unix instead of Windows? Unix is developed in the universities for the purpose of research and has been focusing more on networking and speed. Windows is a commercial product developed and targeted to the home and business users.

Unix or Windows?

Not only is Linux based servers more powerful and secure in networking, but it is also cheaper because Linux is free! If a web host sets up his servers to run Windows server, he will need to purchase the license from Microsoft, and this will increase the hosting price to the client.

There are however some web server features that require a Windows server. The most common are ASP, ASP.NET, ColdFusion, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, etc. If you are not using these specific produces, you probably won't need a Windows host.

What to look for in a Hosting Company


When considering a hosting company for your site, there are several factors beyond just price alone that you should consider. One thing we recommend is that you do not have the same company host your site who you registered your domain name through. you will have a lot less problems if you keep them separate.

Price: know how much you are willing to spend per month.

Disk Space: Hosting companies will usually offer different hosing packages. Most sites can be hosted on the smaller package, just make sure there is enough disk space. If you are hosting videos and larger files, then you may need a bigger package with additional storage space.

Bandwidth: Bandwidth is the amount of data you site is allowed to transfer each month. Most servers impose a limit but for the average site, it is not a problem. Heavy bandwidth sites are those that include video, audio, and heavy traffic. Every time someone visits your site it uses bandwidth when the site is sent to the visiter's computer. You server is transferring to their browser the web page, the pictures on the page, any files they download, etc. All those things are data and it uses your bandwidth.

Scripting & Database Features: If you are going to be designing a site that will allow visitors to enter information, or you want to collect data, create dynamic sites, then you want to be sure to have some sort of scripting and database feature on your site. Most Linux based servers include PHP and MySQL because they are free to install on the server and in turn they are included.

Control Panel: It is always good to be able to have control over your own server. One of the most popular server control panels is cPanel which allows you to completely manage all aspects of your server in a user friendly environment. Servers offering a control panel may cost a bit more, but it is a feature that is well worth an extra couple of dollars per month.

The image below is a typical cPanel screen. The left side of the screen displays information about your site, including current disk usage, bandwidth, etc. The icons on the right allow you to manage just about all aspects of your site... create email accounts, create databases, manage databases, upload files, password protect directories, etc.


Personal Web Servers

In some cases, web designers like to setup a personal web server on their own computers. This will allow your computer to have some of the same functionalities as a real web server. There are practical reasons for doing this, If you are designing a website that utilizes a server side scripting language such as PHP, then you cannot simply open the page up in your browser and look at it. All you will see is the PHP code and not what the page should actually look at. This is because your web browser is only capable of interpreting a few languages, such as HMTL, CSS, and JavaScript. Server side languages must be sent to your browser through a web server. The web server will be able to read the server side script and perform whatever functions it needs to, generate the resulting HTML code and then send that to your browser for you to view. So how do you get a web server. The most common web server application used is Apache. Apache is a free and available to anyone. It is also available for both Windows and Linux systems. Once you install Apache, your computer can run as a basic web server. The software will install a directory called htdocs, which will be where the files for your website will be stored that you want to make available through the server. To access the files through the web server, simply type localhost in your browsers address bar and you can view your web pages as they are passed through the server.

Apache by itself does not have the capabilities to read server side scripting language, however if you want to run PHP scripts thorough your server, you can download and install PHP from www.php.net, which is also free. Once you install the PHP application, Apache will then be able to read PHP scripts.

You would need to save the PHP scripts to the htdocs directory, and access them by going to the browser and typing localhost in the address bar.

Uploading Your Site

To get your web site from your computer to the web server, you will need a program that will allow you to directly connect to your web server and upload, or transfer the files. Browsers use the http protocol to view web sites. Browsers allow visitors to view the files in the public_html directory on the web server, but they cannot directly upload files to the server. To transfer your files fro your computer to your web server, you will need a program called an ftp client. The ftp stands for file transfer protocol the program will establish a secure connection with the web server allowing you to transfer files back and forth. The ftp client can be a stand alone program or it can be integrated in with another larger program, such as Dreamweaver.

Before your ftp client can successfully connect to your web server, it will need to have some information about your server. When you signed up for your website hosting account, you will receive an email from your web host with the connection information for your server, as well as how to access the control panel, and the Name Server information. The sample email below is similar to what you might receive. It contains all the necessary information required to access the site using an FTP program.


The FTP client illustrated below is FileZilla. It is an Open Source FTP client which you may download and use free. All the required information you need to connect to your server can be found on the email from your web host. Using the email above, we will use FileZilla to illustrate connecting to a web server.

Required Settings


This is the actual FTP address you are connecting to. The format for writing an ftp address is similar to that of a web page address. ftp://ftp.htmlcurriculum.com. Depending on the ftp client you are using, the host may be referred to as host address, ftp address, connection address, or something similar.



This is the username you use to connect to your web server. The username will be provided by your web server when you set up your account. Most likely they will allow you to choose your own username.


The password will be provided by your web server when you setup your account.


The FTP Port is 21. Unless you are told otherwise by your host, you should enter 21. Some ftp client programs will allow you to change the port number, but others will not. If you do not have the option to enter a port number, it will be locked at 21.

Once you connect to your web server, you will see a screen similar to the one shown below. As you can see, there are two distinct sides to the FTP program.


1. The left side are the files on your local computer that you are working on. You can navigate to the directory where your files for your website are stored.

2. The right side of the window are the files on your web server. The web server shown in this example is a newly created web hosting account and as you can see there are a lot of files. Those are required for your hosting account to work, so you should not modify any of them. Notice the one directory we highlighted. It is the www directory. Any files you want to appear on your website must be moved to that directory. We will open the www directory by double clicking on it in the window.

There is also a directory called public_html which you can also upload to. The www and public_html directories are aliases for the same folder.


3. The Remote Site field shows the current directory on your web server that you are working in. The directory should not be at a higher level than the www or public_html directory, otherwise your web pages will not be accessible by browsers.

4. The files in the www directory are shown in the files window. There is one file called Postinfo.htm that will automatically appear when a new hosting account is created. You may delete this file when you start uploading your site.

NOTE: Most web hosting accounts require that the home page of your site be named index.htm or index.php. This will be the file that the server automatically retrieves when someone accesses your site.




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