Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server for clients to put their website onto so that the website is accessible to the world wide web . The computer that the websites are stored on are typically in data centers. Webhosts can also provide data center space and connectivity to the Internet for servers they do not own to be located in their data center, this service is usually called colocation.
Selecting a web host
For a monthly fee or yearly Web hosting companies will connect your site to the Internet at high speed via one of their Web servers, allowing the site to be viewed by anyone with an Internet connection and a Web browser. The host provides your site with space on a server, and also offers Web server software, access to its high-speed Internet connection, tools for managing and maintaining your site, customer support, e-commerce features, and more. There are many ISP and Web hosting options to choose from, so use the following list to find one that meets your needs.
What to Look for in a Web Hosting Company
- Shared hosting or dedicated server. Shared hosting is an arrangement in which your site is housed on the same host server with several other Web sites. This is an economical solution for smaller sites. Paying the host for your own dedicated server, a solution used by larger and busier sites, provides faster access and ensures that your site will be accessible to visitors 100 percent of the time (instead of sharing Web server speed and power with other sites). Does your ISP or Web hosting provider offer both options?
- Hard-disk storage space. Smaller sites may need only 300-500 MB (megabytes) of Web site storage space, while busier e-commerce sites may need more. As your site grows, your ISP should be able to accommodate you with a range of options.
- Availability. Your site must be accessible to customers 24 hours a day. ISPs and Web hosts maximize the availability of the sites they host using techniques like load balancing and clustering.
- E-mail accounts. E-mail accounts that match your domain name are often available from your ISP. Are they included with your monthly access and hosting fee?
- Support. A big part of the value of turning to an ISP or Web host is that you don’t have to worry about keeping the Web server running. Does your host offer 24×7 customer service?
Hosting reliability and uptime
Hosting uptime refers to the percentage of time the host is accessible via the internet. Many providers state that they aim for a 99.9% uptime, but there may be server restarts and planned (or unplanned) maintenance in any hosting environment.
A common claim from the popular hosting providers is ‘99% or 99.9% server uptime’ but this often refers only to a server being powered on and doesn’t account for network downtime. Real downtime can potentially be larger than the percentage guaranteed by the provider. Many providers tie uptime, and accessibility, into their own Service Level Agreement, or SLA. SLAs may or may not include refunds, or reduced costs if performance goals are not met.
Types of hosting
The scopes of hosting services vary widely. The most basic is webpage 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 for 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 cheap. Business web site hosting often has a higher expense.
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. To find a web hosting company, there are searchable directories that can be used. One must be extremely careful when searching for a new company because many of the people promoting service providers are actually affiliates and the reviews are biased.
- Free web hosting service: is free, (sometimes) advertisement-supported web hosting, and is often limited when compared to paid hosting.
- Shared web hosting service: one’s Web site 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. A shared website may be hosted with a reseller. This is by far the most common type of hosting account people use.
- 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 provider. Resellers’ accounts may vary tremendously in size: they may have their own virtual dedicated server to a colocated server.
- Virtual Dedicated Server: dividing a server into virtual servers, where each user feels like they’re on their own dedicated server, but they’re actually sharing a server with many other users. The users may have root access to their own virtual space. This is also known as a virtual private server or VPS.
- 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.
- Managed hosting service: the user gets his or her own Web server but is not allowed full control over it (root access for Linux/administrator access for Windows); however, they are allowed to manage their data via FTP or other remote management tools. The user is disallowed full control so that the provider can guarantee quality of service by not allowing the user to modify the server or potentially create configuration problems. The user typically does not own the server. The server is leased to the client.
- Colocation web hosting service: similar to the dedicated web hosting service, but the user owns the colo server; the hosting company provides physical space that the server takes up and takes care of the server. This is the most powerful and expensive type of the web hosting service. In most cases, the colocation provider may provide little to no support directly for their client’s machine, providing only the electrical, Internet access, and storage facilities for the server. In most cases for colo, the client would have his own administrator visit the data center on site to do any hardware upgrades or changes.
- Clustered hosting: having multiple servers hosting the same content for better resource utilization.
- Grid hosting : this form of distributed hosting is when a server cluster acts like a grid and is composed of multiple nodes.