A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their own website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server they own or lease for use by their clients as well as providing Internet connectivity, typically in a data center. Web hosts can also provide data center space and connectivity to the Internet for servers they do not own to be located in their data center, called colocation.
The scope of hosting services varies widely. The most basic is web page and small-scale file hosting, where files can be uploaded via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or a Web interface. The files are usually delivered to the Web "as is" or with little processing. Many Internet service providers (ISPs) offer this service free to their subscribers. People can also obtain Web page hosting from other, alternative service providers. Personal web site hosting is typically free, advertisement-sponsored, or inexpensive. Business web site hosting often has a higher expense.
Single page hosting is generally sufficient only for personal web pages. A complex site calls for a more comprehensive package that provides database support and application development platforms (e.g. PHP, Java, Ruby on Rails, ColdFusion, and ASP.NET). These facilities allow the customers to write or install scripts for applications like forums and content management. For e-commerce, SSL is also highly recommended.
The host may also provide an interface or control panel for managing the Web server and installing scripts as well as other services like e-mail. Some hosts specialize in certain software or services (e.g. e-commerce). They are commonly used by larger companies to outsource network infrastructure to a hosting company.
Types of hosting
Many large companies who are not internet service providers also need a computer permanently connected to the web so they can send email, files, etc. to other sites. They may also use the computer as a website host so they can provide details of their goods and services to anyone interested. Additionally these people may decide to place online orders.
- Shared web hosting service: one's website is placed on the same server as many other sites, ranging from a few to hundreds or thousands. Typically, all domains may share a common pool of server resources, such as RAM and the CPU. The features available with this type of service can be quite extensive. A shared website may be hosted with a reseller.
- Virtual Private Server: also known as (VPS), divides server resources into virtual servers, where resources can be allocated in a way that does not directly reflect the underlying hardware. VPS will often be allocated resources based on a one server to many VPSs relationship, however virtualisation may be done for a number of reasons, including the ability to move a VPS container between servers. The users may have root access to their own virtual space. Customers are sometimes responsible for patching and maintaining the server.
- Dedicated hosting service: the user gets his or her own Web server and gains full control over it (root access for Linux/administrator access for Windows); however, the user typically does not own the server. Another type of Dedicated hosting is Self-Managed or Unmanaged. This is usually the least expensive for Dedicated plans. The user has full administrative access to the box, which means the client is responsible for the security and maintenance of his own dedicated box.
- Reseller web hosting: allows clients to become web hosts themselves. Resellers could function, for individual domains, under any combination of these listed types of hosting, depending on who they are affiliated with as a reseller. Resellers' accounts may vary tremendously in size: they may have their own virtual dedicated server to a collocated server. Many resellers provide a nearly identical service to their provider's shared hosting plan and provide the technical support themselves.
- Free web hosting service: offered by different companies with limited services, sometimes supported by advertisements, and often limited when compared to paid hosting.
Some specific types of hosting provided by web host service providers:
- File hosting service: hosts files, not web pages
- Image hosting service
- Video hosting service
- Blog hosting service
- One-click hosting
- Shopping cart software
- E-mail hosting service