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For many people, the idea of "web services" can be confusing. You may ask, "If I use an internet service provider to connect to the web, isn't that all I need?"

Not necessarily.

What you may think of as a single internet service is actually a collection of different services. One service is the actual connection to the internet, such as a dial-up internet connection using your phone line. Electronic mail, or email, is another service. Hosting for a web site is still another service. You may find that having all these services available from one provider works fine for you. But you may also find that you can get more reliable, flexible, and inexpensive services elsewhere.

To help you sort out your options, here's a rundown of different web services:

Internet Service Provider (ISP)

The internet service provider provides a way for you to connect to the internet, either by dialing up over phone lines using a computer modem, or using a wireless signal, cable connection, satellite signal, or other technology.

Smiling Country Web / Business Services is not an internet service provider, but does provide a variety of other web services.

Electronic Mail (Email)

Email service provides a way to send and receive messages over the internet. If you use an email program such as Outlook or Outlook Express, the messages you send are transferred over the internet to a computer, a "mail server," that is managed by your email service, then on to its destination. The mail you receive also goes through the mail server. If there are problems with your mail server, your mail service can be interrupted and your messages can even be lost, even though there may be nothing wrong with your internet connection.

In the early days of the internet revolution, most internet users relied on their internet service provider to provide their email service. But other options are now available. As many small internet service providers encounter difficulties managing a growing torrent of junk email, known as "spam," many people who rely on email are looking elsewhere for reliable, low-cost alternatives.

Smiling Country Web / Business Services can set you up with affordable email service from a national leader in internet technology. The service uses the most reliable, state-of-the-art mail servers and includes the latest in virus and spam protection. The cost is only $20 per year per email account, plus the cost of registering an internet domain ($35 or less per year). With your own domain, your email address will NEVER CHANGE, even if you change your internet service provider.

Domain Registration

Domain registration lets you create a permanent identity on the internet for your email or for a web site. For example, the registered domain for Smiling Country Web / Business Services is, That is the internet address of our web site, and the domain used by our email service. To send mail to our "info" account, you send it to That is a permanent address. It won't change regardless of who we use for our internet service.

If you use the email service provided by your internet service provider, then you automatically use the internet service provider's domain. That's fine if you never change internet service providers. But if you do, your email address changes, too. Each time you change, you have to notify everyone who sends you email. By registering your own domain, you only have to notify people once of your new address, then never have to notify them again.

Smiling Country Web / Business Services can help you register your own domain. The cost is $35 per year or less per year for longer-term registration ($66 for two years, $87 for three years, $115 for five years).

Web Hosting

Web hosting provides storage on a computer connected to the internet for the pieces, the computer files, that make up your web site. Your web site designer creates the site, then copies, or "uploads," it to the computer on the internet that "hosts" the site.

Your web site can be hosted by your internet service provider or it can hosted elsewhere. One important consideration is that your web designer can only use tools and technology that are supported by the host computer. If your site's host computer has limitations, it can severely limit what your web designer can do.

Smiling Country Web / Business Services offers a variety of web hosting options, as well as web site design services. We host our sites on reliable, state-of-the-art computer servers managed by Concentric, featuring a full range of technology support. Our hosting rates of $19 per month or $174 per year are the lowest in the Methow Valley.


P.O. Box 1101 Twisp, WA 98856