Hello. I am very new to programming, and obviously very ignorant to the details that follow. So I will have many questions on a variety of subjects in my time using this forum. My first question, however, should be very simple. Is online hosting from a different site better than hosting a site on your own computer? What is the differences? Thank you for any responses which you may provide.
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I'd like to answer this question with "it depends." It depends on the site you have. If you have a site about your button collection that's not too important then you can run it from home on a free server that just runs HTML pages. If you wanted people to have access to it 24 hours a day, then you'd have to leave your computer on all the time. The speed in which they access your site would be limited to the specs of your computer, their connection speed, your network type (probably cable or dsl, depending what you use) and how busy that network is. Additional facilities such as databases, e-mail accounts, statistic tools, secure connections, FTP, and others, would be your responsibility. It would be up to you to buy these facilities, install them and manage them. These facilities can be free or can go higher $100K. For example, MySQL server Pro, a database server costs $495. There is a free version that you can use but it obviously doesn't have the features the pro has. Oracle Enterprise Edition (another database server) costs $40,000. Most web hosts go with the cheaper but stable database which is why MySQL is the most popular.
If you go with a web host, you save money and time. You don't have to worry about maintaining servers, licensing software, connection speeds (they most likely have connection speeds that exceed home connections). It's also a connection that's on 24/7. You also usually get a bunch of tools at your disposal. One downside of going with a web host (the ones I can think of now anyways) is not being able to troubleshoot the software and hardware when something goes wrong. You'd have to rely on their technical support, and that is, if they have good technical support, which is another thing you'd have to rely on. You'd also have to rely on their connection speed, and your site never going down. You could go for colocation hosting where you would keep your own computer at your host's plant (the actual building where they keep the servers) but that may be too costly.
Now if you were running a business site, like a wallstreet site, where up to the second information was crucial, then you'd need the best of everything. You cannot afford to get 2nd rate software/hardware where anything can go wrong. Not only that, but servers are clustered in multiple computers and don't rely on just one computer. In case one computer breaks down, another one in that network can take over. Also, you'd have to make sure it's secure. In this case, they'd have their own servers and running on multiple machines. Obviously most web hosts don't provide the same level of features as this, but they still provide a good amount of it to be low cost. I run my site off http://www.icdsoft.com - they have excellent reviews, good features, awesome tech support, and a good price ($60 a year).
Any other questions, just ask away.