Before you setup web hosting, you first need to purchase a domain. Your domain is what you will use to “point” your internet address to your actual web host. I recommend you register your domain at GoDaddy. Although Godaddy is good for domain registrations, they aren’t very good at web hosting. For web hosting, I highly recommend Hostgator. I currently host 13 different active domains receiving tens of thousands of visitors, for only a small fee a month at Hostgator. All plans come with Fantastico and Cpanel, which is a must for any newbies to web hosting. If you plan to have more then one domain (active or parked), you will want to buy Hostgator’s baby plan. This offers unlimited domain hosting under one account and saves a lot of money, compared to if you were to buy a new plan for each domain. If you just want to host one domain (or blog) you can buy their hatchling plan. If you decide to create more domains later, you can just upgrade to the baby plan later when you need it.
Once you purchase webhosting, the hosting company will give you the nameservers(usually one or two) for example: n21.nameserver.com and n22.nameserver.com . Now if you bought your domains with a registrar like GoDaddy, you have the ability to go in and modify the namesevers (among other things such as whois info) anytime you want. With GoDaddy and similiar registrars, you go log onto Godaddy.com and in your account’s control panel enter the information into the nameservers box. You will have to read the intstructions at your domain registrar, to see specifically how it is done, but it’s usually pretty easy to do. If you registered your domains elsewhere, they may not have this easy control panel feature, so you may have to contact them with the nameserver information for them to manually change it.
Once you change the nameservers, you must wait between 15 minutes to 3 days for the DNS to update for your particular internet provider before you may see the domain point to your host. Each internet provider has it’s own working copy of DNS settings, so while the domain pointing is really instantaneous, it can take a while before your Internet service provider can see the DNS change. Think of DNS as a telephone book, where each internet service provider has a copy and it may take awhile before all of them get the newest copy.
Before you start your pursuit of building your website, you should get FTP software. This allows you to be able to move large amounts of files between your computer and hosting account. If you’re just starting out and using Hostgator’s plans, which all have Fantastico installer, you won’t need to know FTP right away. Fantastico installs many major forms of web software such as SMF forums, wordpress blogging software, all with the click of a mouse. But you will need to learn FTP soon after so you can backup all your files to your computer or upload web software not in the Fantastico package.
If you are using hostgator, you will need to learn your way around using Cpanel, before you get started working on your websites. The file manager in Cpanel, is where you can edit pages and upload images. Here you will also setup your mail and various other things. I also recommend you learn as soon as possible PHPmyadmin, which is under the MySQL databases section of Cpanel. PHPmyadmin is a web interface software to backup, modify, and transfer databases. Forums, blogging software, and most other software use a MySQL database which require knowledge of PHPmyadmin in order to backup or move your database to a different web host. Not every webhost uses Cpanel software, but it is the most commonly used web host administration software for managing files, checking email, etc in a web based environment. That is why I recommend you purchase hosting from a site like hostgator, which uses Cpanel.