Aviva Directory » Computers & Internet » Internet » Web Hosting

Web hosting is an Internet service that allows individuals, businesses, and organizations to host their websites and files on the hosting service's servers, where they are made accessible to the world through the World Wide Web.

Usually, hosting companies maintain data centers with multiple large servers, owned or leased, on which client's data is stored, and where they offer server space and connectivity to the Internet. Put simply, hosting servers provide a space on the Web, for a fee or for free. However, in order for the public to be able to access a website, it has to be hosted on a globally connected server.

The primary business of most hosting companies is to rent space on their servers, although most of them also offer domain name registration, email hosting services, SSL certificates, and content management platforms. Some of them even offer online website creation tools, sometimes for free with a hosting account.

Self-hosting is also an option, although it may not be the best choice for most people. Unless a company or business is already set up to do their own hosting, perhaps for security reasons, self-hosting can be an expensive project. Unless enough bandwidth and resources are allocated for peak traffic times, a sharp upward swing could cause downtime. Of course, this may occur with some hosting plans as well. Most significantly, in the absence of experienced IT personnel capable of handling problems that may come up, maintaining a self-hosted website can be hectic and troublesome. Self-hosting often includes a dynamic IP address that will change over time, and this may cause connectivity difficulties.

On the other hand, professional web hosting companies are generally reliable, and hosting plans may be performance-driven, scalable, and capable of meeting the needs of high traffic and demanding web applications. Professional web hosting companies have the IT personnel and technologies to offer solutions to the various web hosting needs of their clients, including the ability to meet cybersecurity threats. Web hosts can offer static IP addresses, which are more reliable because they do not change. There is also the fact that hosting companies usually have multiple telecommunications and Internet networks, and are able to offer faster connectivity, a balanced load time, and rapid processing speed.

Comparing lists of services and features offered by various web hosting companies can be complicated because, as they represent competitive businesses, they tend to be promotional in nature, and because the technical language is not intuitive to everyone. Basic types of web hosting plans include free web hosting, shared web hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated server hosting, cloud hosting, reseller web hosting, collocated web hosting, and clustered hosting. There are also questions of managed versus unmanaged hosting. The type of operating system (generally either Windows or Unix) may be important, depending on the applications required.

Other elements that might be important include network uptime, bandwidth, storage capacity, and matters of service level agreements, security, backups, and disaster recovery services.

Depending on a client's needs, other considerations might include the availability of website building tools or e-commerce features, access to an intuitive control panel, database management and support, support for frameworks and CMS, scalability of the hosting plans, and the number of domains or subdomains permitted by the plan.

The quality of a hosting company's customer and technical support is very important. Unfortunately, that can be difficult to ascertain from a list of features promised on a hosting company's website. Some hosting companies respond to technical support questions with little more than canned emails pointing the client to a wiki help file that may as well be written in a foreign language, while others will offer a live tech support person who will walk you through the problem, or even fix it for you.

Unfortunately, reputation can sometimes only be measured by trial and error. Many websites that purport to review or compare web hosting companies are actually affiliate marketing schemes intended to point people to hosts who will pay them an affiliate fee, while others may be more reliable or objective. Seeking opinions from knowledgeable friends, or through social media or tech forums that are not affiliated with a particular hosting company may be good sources of information.

The focus of this category is on web hosting. Most of the resources listed below, or in subcategories of this category, are to various web hosting companies, although other resources related to web hosting may have a place here, as well.


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