How Websites Really Work
July 2, 2012
In just under 400 words, I will give you a brief overview of how websites really work. I highly recommend reading the following post before getting your next website. It will hopefully help you understand the web developer’s dreadful lingo when you meet with them – and best of all, you can dazzle them with your newly acquired knowledge.
A server is actually just a computer. In fact, you can take your current PC (personal computer) and turn it into a server. The difference between a server and a PC is very minor. Where your PC only holds your own personal documents, a server will hold website files viewable to the entire world. Since the files on a server can be viewed at any time, the server is usually never turned off.
The internet is actually a collection of servers. Every time you visit a website like google.com or facebook.com, you are actually connecting to a server somewhere in the world. The farther away the server is, the slower the page will load. If your clients are local, it’s always best to get a server in your city.
Setting up your own server can become a tedious task. You will have to constantly upkeep security and ensure all software is up to date. Instead of worrying about maintaining a server, you can have someone do it all for you – and for a fraction of the cost. If you register for ‘hosting’, you can have all your website files placed (or hosted) on a company’s server (like godaddy.com). So when your visitors access your website, they are actually accessing it from a server you have never seen.
When you register for hosting with a company like godaddy.com, they will place your website on one of their many servers. A company like Godaddy has thousands of servers which they use to host all their clients. These thousands of servers are kept in a data center. A data center is a large room with rows of servers. These rooms are usually secured with the best kind of technology, preventing anyone from stealing information off your server. Data centers are also protected from floods and fires, ensuring your website and client information stays safe.
A website is written in a language called XHTML. Your internet browser (like Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome) interprets the language to display the website. For example, any image you see on a website uses the following XHTML code: <img src=”funny_image.jpg” alt=”Funny Image” />. The internet browser will then interpret the XHTML code and display the image. Your website is made up of files of XHTML code. These files are stored on a server. When your clients open your website, their internet browser grabs the files off the server and interprets the code to display your beautiful website.