Afterword

ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Domains, hosting, and websites (K2 #45)

Question of the Week 
I created a website using Google Sites which I want to use with my own domain. I need a reliable hosting company. Can you recommend one?

— Harilal, Thimphu

Answer
 Dear Harilal,

Google Sites, websites, domain names, hosting… Hold your yaks! Let’s get things in order. First, let us talk about the difference between websites, domains, and hosting. A website is a collection of files holding the content (text, photos, etc.) which is displayed to the user. These files need to be stored somewhere. They are stored on a server, which can be either owned by you, or - if you don’t want the headache involved in maintaining a server - by a hosting company.

Whenever a user accesses the website, the server delivers the information back to the user. Like all computers on the Internet, the server has a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is a sequence of numbers. For example, the IP address of BBS’s server is 202.144.155.2. If you want to read the news from BBS, just enter 202.144.155.2 in your browser’s address bar and click Enter. Try it!

Most people are not very good at remembering sequences of numbers such as 202.144.155.2. That’s where domain names become useful. Domain names (like www.bbs.bt) are easier for people to remember. When you use a domain name, your browser automatically translates it into an IP address. Domain names are not free, however. They need to be purchased from a domain name registrar, a company that registers domain names. Check the table to see annual prices for domains. Naturally, you can only buy domains that are not already taken.

Domain type
Yearly fee
Registrar
Second level .bt domain, such as harilal.bt
Nu 1000
www.nic.bt (DrukNet)
Third level .bt domain, such as harilal.com.bt or harilal.org.bt
Nu 500
www.nic.bt (DrukNet)
Other (non-.bt) domains, such as harilal.com, harilal.info, harilal.me
US$4-$20
Name.com, GoDaddy.com, 1and1.com, and plenty of others

Many companies (for example, DrukNet) double as hosting companies and domain name registrars. It is often convenient to use the same company for both, but it is not mandatory. For example, you can buy a domain name from DrukNet, but your hosting company can be in India. Or you can buy a domain name from a US-based registrar, but the server can actually be located in your Thimphu flat.
Back to your original question: Google Sites is a service from Google that allows anyone to build a website with a few clicks, and Google also hosts that website for free - so your search for a reliable hosting company is over! The only missing piece is your own domain name. Just hop over to the DrukNet office and you can buy one in a jiffy.