I’m back on WordPress, and yes, it’s running independently now than it was the last time I was hosting it. Here’s what I learned thus far.
When it comes to information technology, especially since it is such a broad field, there are a lot of names for these different types of situations that derive from umbrella terms, and many of them can become interchangeable. It is therefore important to pay attention to what name you use as it can stand for something entirely different than what you had originally intended. For future reference, any given area in which things can be infinite, or have a large number of possibilities, it is also important to start at the beginning, and to build the foundations using what you already know to make new concepts. When the sender fails to do so, it would leave the receiver befuddled, and they will therefore be unable to comprehend. To break the tension between sender and receiver, a mutual agreement must be made by knowing what the best learning method the receiver uses while the best teaching method is made by the sender. If information technology is something that a person is truly passionate about for one reason or another, they would have a better chance of succeeding than those who do not have that passion. However, let us also be careful about how we stick to our role to this area, as it can make us more close-minded to other situations, so finding the key balance to success will guarantee that you will strive. I would also add that there are groups of people who may choose to learn about information technology and computer science for one reason or another depending on what needs are to be met, such as running a basic web site to managing a commercial business. So, whether you are a neophyte or a pro-expert, please sit back and enjoy the read.
Normally, a server is comprised of a hard drive or solid state drive, or a multitude of these hooked up to a series of network cards and their internet service provider, and these can be accessed by computers authorised to do so. They might also have raid controllers and redundant power supplies. For instance, companies such as the cloud and Dropbox have warehouses or data centres where they have a ton of hard drives or solid state drives, each one doing its own service to each user.
To save energy and disc space, the module or control unit, which connects to the drive, can be managed to shut off your server. To maintain your service, companies can charge you for obvious reasons, while others may annoy you with ads. This of course means that the only way to get rid of them would be to give them what they want so they can stop bugging you all the time.
A physical server, which can be anything from a small Raspberry Pi to a large machine can be used in a small business setting that have enough resources available, and they can employ a number of hardware that will manage networks and other needs. But for simplicity reasons it is better to stick with a virtual server, or virtual private server (VPS) as they are called. You can do anything with a VPS that you can do with a physical one, including having your own virtual private network (VPN), your own internet radio streaming service (icecast or Shoutcast) or install your content management system such as a word press blog or site, or another one such as Grupal or Joomla. You are paying someone else to host a virtual machine for you on a physical server. You can do any additional tasks like run TeamTalk and file transfer protocol servers to manage your files on the machine using an FTP client. Servers can be accessed by a number of ways and protocols, though the most common is via an IP address, or domain name system. The additional addresses like subnetting, MAC, and stuff are used by identifiers and other cyber-protocol features, kind of like the statistics of a telephone call for security reasons. There are two types of IP addresses. IPV4, which only has numbers, and IPV6 which has both letters and numbers. Your server may have a gateway IP address that exists to communicate with other computers on the network.
Of course, IP addresses are not always easy to remember, so you will have to find a few ways to make it easier. The first way to do this is to set up something called a domain that is classified into three levels. The first level is where you have the .com, .net, .org, etc. The second-level domain is the name of the web site, like example, or mydomain. The third level domain are things like www, or another name that leads to a different part of your site. These are called subdomains. Finally, the protocol type. They can range from hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) and HTTPS (secured connection using port 443 instead of 80), FTP (port 21), Mailto (application), Callto (application), and many others that either open applications or use a particular port number. How you set these up is important to get the results you want. In today’s world, you can enter a simple domain without entering the http in a browser, since we assume that you will be using the default protocol for that application. In general, a web page will load faster if you type a slash at the end of an address, because this will tell the server to locate the document root folder, and to open up the main screen, whatever that is. Configuring what your main screen will be discussed at some other time.
Now that you understand what is available, let
us find out how these domains are able to track down your particular server, albeit physical or virtual. So as I said there are a few ways that you can get to your server instead of using an IP address, which is hard to remember. The first would be to set up a simple domain that uses something called a domain name system. It is uniquely configured to point to your server’s IP address, or this can be be set to redirect to another domain. This can be changed in your DNS manager’s dashboard or domain registrar, if you have not yet changed your nameserver. This would save you a lot of time from having to scrounge around to find what you need, but as you gain more experience you might want to start thinking of other options. The thing to remember is that there are several types of DNS records. An A record points to your IP address. A CNAME record uses a subdomain to redirect you to another server. An MX or mail exchange record is used to pass e-mail from one transfer agent to another. Text (TXT) records are used to verify your identity so mails that you sent do not end up in the recipient’s spam folder.
Other DNS managers, like Google Web Masters, and registrars that host your domain, require constant communication to send information from one to the other. To do this, you would use a TXT record, which is a string of complicated letters, numbers and punctuations that serves as a digital fingerprint to prove that you are the owner of the website, and that you own the server as well. Take into account of the achronym ‘I-CAN’. It stands for ‘International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers. They are responsible for assigning you your particular address, and they also have rules and regulations as to what your web domain can be called. The term domain registrar is the company that actually hosts your domain, but you do not always have to use your registrar’s DNS manager. Sites like Go Daddy or Hover are an example of a domain hosting registrar because you can set up your domain with them and then have that address redirect to wherever it is you want it to go to by using the record types mentioned above. A name server may have the address dns1.domain.com or dns2.domain.com. Sites like cloudflare need you to change your name servers so you can have traffic go through them instead of the default domain name server. You can look up all of this information by going to http://www.who.is and http://www.whatsmydns.net. This deepening area will require more patience and better analogous concepts for you to grasp. For first-time users, it is better to set up some records on Cloudflare without protection. They reroute your IP address so that if you tried to get the IP address of a domain, you would only end up with a Cloudflare IP, rather than your server’s IP. If you put this into your browser, you would see a message saying that direct IP access is not allowed.
In many systems, particularly Linux systems, hosting can be achieved by using the default document root directory, which is /var/www, or /var/www/html. Or, you might choose to change this so that you will have a directory called my-site. It would be in either /var/www/my-site or /var/www/html/my-site. Inside that folder, you will need to create another directory called public_html. These are called virtual hosts, which you can learn more by doing a few searches. All operating systems have a hosts or hostname file you can edit. It uses these files to refer to themselves or automatically locate another server on the internet. For instance, if you knew that your domain, my-example.com leads to 123.456.78.9, then you can add this to your hosts file and flush the DNS cache. So when you type that domain in, rather than go to your resolving server or an authoritative server, your computer will already know the answer because you provided it. Your web server will get a request from my-example.com, not from 123.456.78.9 As such, your web server will know that it needs to look up the virtual host matching the request of the domain name. That is why it is possible to have a few sites hosted with different names that are all sharing the same IP address. You can further manage this using a web -based control panel that you can install yourself, such as C-Panel or ISP-Config, which come with their own DNS manager.
By default, when you put a slash, followed by a name, you are telling the web server to locate a directory inside the document root folder. This does not always have to be the case. You can add aliases and subdomain aliases. These are simply lines of code that you can add so that, if you want your clients to go to my-example.com/webmail, it will load a web e-mail client such as Squirrelmail, even though there is no directory called squirrelmail in the document root folder. Or, you might decide to run it as a subdomain alias, so you would write webmail.my-example.com. You can find a whole lot mmore about these types of configurations on the internet, or you can simply try and ask the right people.
The last part is the digital certificate and basic server instructions. If you go to a web site using the secured protocol port 443, and it does not have a verified certificate, you will be prevented access from seeing that web site. To correct this problem, remove the S from the HTTP and try again. Setting up a certificate requires more skill, and it depends on the web server, database server, and PHP programme you are using on the operating system of that server. The problem is, there are programmes that can intercept traffic from a computer to a server. When you send a credit card number via a form, it has to travel a long distance to get to the web server. Who knows who might be receiving your information in between point A and point B. If you were to send that information through regular HTTP, everything would come up as clear text. By utilising something simple as secure socket layer or transport layer security, you can encode the text in a wrapper that will be extremely difficult for a hacker to decode. Fun fact: The closer you live to a server being hosted for you, the faster pings you will receive. If you play a multi-player on-line game that is being hosted on the other side of the world, you would get longer pings unless you had super high-speed gigabit internet or if you lived relatively close to the server.
The majority of the web is hosted by Unix and Unix-like operating systems, and as such they require an SSH port 22 connection in the form of ssh [email protected] or IP address. When using domain, your operating system has to resolve it, but it will obtain the IP address just the same. There are clients for Windows, such as SecureCRT, which supports multiple protocols. There is also a good secure file transfer protocol client called Win SCP, which works well with PuTTY, which makes an excellent combination to manage your server, since they all have SFTP access. Or, you can install Scoop and Open SSH on Windows Power Shell. Of course, in Mac and other Unix-like system, you do not need to install any additional clients to access another system using Unix. Windows virtual private servers are more expensive, but they require a remote desktop connection for you to use.
How DNS resolution works is a little bit complicated, but in a nutshell, your operating system connects to your external IP address of your internet service provider. Using that, it will locate the top level domain. A search is then conducted using a name server until an answer is found. Authoritative servers are always up to date. Resolving servers need to look up the answers to a DNS request. The most important thing is that you should get from point A to point B in as few steps as possible by knowing exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it.
There are FOUR major types of hosting. Shared hosting only limits you to using C-Panel or some other web interface administration tool, and you only get ftp ACCESS WITH File Zilla or Win SCP to transfer files. You cannot control your server the way you would if you were using the SSD, Cloud, or dedicated VPS with a provider like Linode, VPS-dot-net, Digital Ocean, Vultr, OVH, 100TB, among many others. I personally prefer to host my own server so I can have full control of it and do anything I want. The third type of hosting uses a true cloud environment, with lots of redundancies. In the fourth type of hosting, you are solely responsible for building the server from the ground up. That is called a dedicated server. It is only recommended that computer experts choose this type of hosting. It is also a lot more expensive to host because you are all alone.
Shared hosting is like sharing a flat or apartment with other tenants. If you clog up your toilet, it will clog up the entire plumbing system for the rest of the tenants. Therefore, maintenance will have to come over to fix your problem. Take that analogy to uploading a slow-running script. If your site visitor activates the script that causes a heavy load on the RAM, it will slow down all of the other web sites stored on that machine.
VPS (SSD) hosting. This is a little more like sharing a mobile home park or small neighbourhood. You have your own home and everything, and most of the resources are allocated to you. A VPS is like a physical machine in a data centre with lots of virtual machines, each with a different IP address which people can access remotely on a solid state drive. The only disadvantage is that if the power goes out, everyone will lose access to it. Think of an entire neighbourhood losing power because a transformer blew up. If you upload a slow-running script to an SSD VPS, there is a lesser chance that it could slow down the machine, since it is using some virtual RAM. The thing to remember is that SSD VPS is still considered shared, but you get the best of both worlds in that you each have your own machines.
VPS (Cloud) is a little bit like SSD, except that if the physical machine loses power, the virtual machine is automatically migrated to another physical machine. So think of the neighbourhood example. If one of the transformers break, the system will automatically connect you to another functioning transformer so you can continue to use electricity.
Dedicated Server is where you are all alone. That is like buying a property in a rural area and you need to hire contractors, or build your own house, and connect your own plumbing, gas, electricity, cable, internet, and telephone lines, or build your own power plant. If you had the space and the resources, you could build a computer and have it act as a dedicated server.
There is one more type of hosting, called managed hosting. this is more for hosting providers who dedicate their time to helping people host content management systems, such as WordPress. It is like renting an office in a building, such as using the World Trade Centre facilities to conduct your business.
Dropbox is a free service that can allow you to upload and share folders. I heard that there are some competitors that are better than Dropbox, and unfortunately we will always have that going on, but once a person sticks to something, it is hard to make them change their mind.
The above material is just a starting point to get anyone interested. Since I am not a fan of information technology myself, I try to find other ways of making sense of it all by simplifying what can be simplified, so as to avoid using IT gibberish in the event that one may not be able to understand what you are trying to convey. As always feel free to give suggestions and comments.