Hosting a Website

Hosting is rent you pay for placing your site on the web. It makes your website accessible to the world.

Hosting companies provide space on a server they own or lease for your use. Web hosts can also provide data center space.

Hosting as it impacts you, can be divided into two categories:

1. Free Hosting

Is typically free and advertisement-sponsored, or inexpensive. It carries considerable risk to your business:

  • Server downtime means downtime for your site = lost business.
  • You can lose files and data.
  • Host advertising distracts from your site’s message and looks unprofessional, hurting your image.

2. Paid Hosting

Business web site hosting for a monthly or annual “rental” fee. It comes with additional services that can help your company’s presence on the web. These can include:

  • Ability to install scripts, forums, content management, SSL for ecommerce, etc.
  • The host often provides a control panel for managing the web server, installing scripts, email set-up, database management, etc.

Uptime & Downtime

  • Uptime: When the website is publicly accessible via the Internet. Reliable, paid hosting services pride themselves on a high availability % (measurement of uptime over the period of a year).
  • Downtime: When the host server crashes, making the website inaccessible.
  • Free hosting services are less reliable and their availability % can be quite low.

Types of Hosting – Overview

Free web hosting service: Limited services, often supported by advertising.

Shared web hosting service: One server holds many websites (several to hundreds or thousands) All domains may share a common pool of server resources, such as RAM and the CPU. Features available with this type of service can be quite extensive. (A shared website may be hosted with a reseller.)

Reseller web hosting: Clients can become web hosts themselves. Reseller accounts vary in size: they may have their own virtual dedicated server to a colocated server. Many resellers provide an almost identical service to their provider’s shared hosting plan and provide the technical support themselves.

Virtual dedicated server (Virtual Private Server (VPS) divides server resources into virtual servers, where resources can be allocated in a way that does not directly reflect the underlying hardware. Users may have root access to their own virtual space. Customers are sometimes responsible for patching and maintaining the server.

Dedicated hosting service: A user gains full control of his/her own Web server (user has 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 generally the least expensive option for dedicated hosting. The user has full administrative access to the server, which means the client is responsible for the security and maintenance of his own dedicated server.

Managed hosting service: A user has his/her own web server but is not allowed full control (user is denied root access for Linux/administrator access for Windows); however, they are allowed to manage their data via FTP or other remote management tools. Full control is disallowed, so the provider can guarantee the quality of service, by not allowing the user to modify the server leading to potential 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 and takes care of the server. This is the most powerful and expensive type of web hosting service. In most cases, the colocation provider provides little to no support for their client’s machine – providing only the electrical, Internet access, and storage facilities for the server. In most cases, the colo client would have his/her own administrator visit the data center on site to do any hardware upgrades or changes.

Cloud Hosting: A new type of hosting platform that allows customers powerful, scalable, and reliable hosting, based on clustered load-balanced servers and utility billing. A cloud-hosted website may be more reliable than alternatives since other computers in the cloud can compensate when a single piece of hardware goes down. Also, local power disruptions or even natural disasters are less problematic for cloud hosted sites, as cloud hosting is decentralized. Cloud hosting also allows providers (such as Amazon) to charge users only for resources consumed by the user, rather than a flat fee for the amount the user expects they will use, or a fixed cost upfront hardware investment. Alternatively, the lack of centralization may give users less control over where their data is located, which could be a problem for users with data security or privacy concerns.

Clustered hosting: Multiple servers hosting the same content for better resource utilization – a perfect solution for high-availability dedicated hosting, or creating a scalable web hosting solution. A cluster may separate web serving from database hosting capability. (Web hosts often use clustered hosting for their shared hosting plans, as there are multiple benefits to the mass managing of clients.).

Grid hosting: A form of distributed hosting when a server cluster acts like a grid composed of multiple nodes.

Home server: A single machine placed in a private residence can be used to host one or more websites from a consumer-grade broadband connection, using a purpose-built machine or old PC. Some ISPs actively attempt to block home servers by disallowing incoming requests to TCP port 80 of the user’s connection and by refusing to provide static IP addresses.

– Wikipedia

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  • Your hosting options
  • Choosing a domain name

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