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A web hosting service is a type of
Internet hosting service An Internet hosting service is a service that runs servers connected to the Internet, allowing organizations and individuals to serve content or host services connected to the Internet. A common kind of hosting is web hosting A web hosting ...
that hosts
websites A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web pages and related content that is identified by a common domain name and published on at least one web server. Notable examples are wikipedia.org, google.com, and amazon.com. All ...
for clients, i.e. it offers the facilities required for them to create and maintain a site and makes it accessible on the
World Wide Web The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system An information system (IS) is a formal, sociotechnical Sociotechnical systems (STS) in organizational development is an approach to complex organizational ...
. Companies providing web hosting services are sometimes called ''web hosts''. Typically, web hosting requires the following: * one or more
server Server may refer to: Computing *Server (computing) In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and dev ...
s to act as the host(s) for the sites; servers may be physical or virtual *
colocation Colocation or collocation may refer to: * Colocation (business), the placement of several entities in a single location * Colocation centre, a data center where companies can rent equipment, space, and bandwidth for computing services, known as col ...
for the server(s), providing physical space, electricity, and
Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consist ...

Internet
connectivity; *
Domain Name System The Domain Name System (DNS) is the hierarchical and Decentralised system, decentralized naming system used to identify computers, Internet#Applications_and_services, services, and other resources reachable through the internet or other intern ...

Domain Name System
configuration to define name(s) for the sites and point them to the hosting server(s); * a
web server A web server is computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Computer program, pr ...
running on the host; * for each site hosted on the server: ** space on the server(s) to hold the files making up the site ** site-specific configuration ** often, a
database In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and sof ...

database
; ** software and
credentials A credential is a piece of any document that details a qualification, competence, or authority issued to an individual by a third party with a relevant or ''de facto'' authority or assumed competence to do so. Examples of credentials include aca ...

credentials
allowing the client to access these, enabling them to create, configure, and modify the site; **
email upThe email_address.html"_;"title="at_sign,_a_part_of_every_SMTP_email_address">at_sign,_a_part_of_every_SMTP_email_address Electronic_mail_(email_or_e-mail)_is_a_method_of_exchanging_messages_("mail")_between_people_using_electronic_dev ...

email
connectivity allowing the host and site to send email to the client.


History

Until 1991, the
Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consist ...

Internet
was restricted to use only "... for research and education in the sciences and engineering..." and was used for
email upThe email_address.html"_;"title="at_sign,_a_part_of_every_SMTP_email_address">at_sign,_a_part_of_every_SMTP_email_address Electronic_mail_(email_or_e-mail)_is_a_method_of_exchanging_messages_("mail")_between_people_using_electronic_dev ...

email
,
telnet Telnet is an application protocol used on the Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected s that uses the (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ' that consists of private, publ ...
,
FTP The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard communication protocol used for the transfer of computer files from a server to a client on a computer network. FTP is built on a client–server model architecture using separate control and data c ...

FTP
and
USENET Usenet () is a worldwide distributed discussion system available on computers. It was developed from the general-purpose Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) dial-up Dial-up Internet access is a form of Internet access Internet access is the ability of ...
traffic—but only a tiny number of web pages. The World Wide Web protocols had only just been written and not until the end of 1993 would there be a graphical web browser for Mac or Windows computers. Even after there was some opening up of internet access, the situation was confused until 1995."Retiring the NSFNET Backbone Service: Chronicling the End of an Era"
Susan R. Harris and Elise Gerich, ''ConneXions'', Vol. 10, No. 4, April 1996
To host a
website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web page A web page (or webpage) is a hypertext Hypertext is text displayed on a or other with references () to other text that the reader can immediately access. Hyperte ...

website
on the
internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consist ...

internet
, an individual or company would need their own
computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Computer program, programs. These ...

computer
or
server Server may refer to: Computing *Server (computing) In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and dev ...
. As not all companies had the budget or expertise to do this, web hosting services began to offer to host users'
website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web page A web page (or webpage) is a hypertext Hypertext is text displayed on a or other with references () to other text that the reader can immediately access. Hyperte ...

website
s on their own servers, without the client needing to own the necessary infrastructure required to operate the website. The owners of the websites, also called
webmaster A webmaster is a person responsible for maintaining one or more website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web page A web page (or webpage) is a hypertext File:Douglas Engelbart in 2008.jpg, Douglas Engelbar ...

webmaster
s, would be able to create a website that would be hosted on the web hosting service's server and published to the web by the web hosting service. As the number of users on the World Wide Web grew, the pressure for companies, both large and small, to have an online presence grew. By 1995, companies such as
GeoCities Yahoo! GeoCities was a web hosting service that allowed users to create and publish websites for free and to browse user-created websites by their theme or interest. GeoCities was started in November 1994 by David Bohnett and John Rezner, and wa ...
,
Angelfire Angelfire is an Internet service that offers website services. It is owned by Lycos, which also owns Tripod.com. Angelfire operates separately from Tripod.com and includes features such as blog building and a photo gallery builder. Free webpage ...
and
Tripod using a surveyor's tripod A tripod is a portable three-legged frame or stand, used as a platform for supporting the weight In science and engineering, the weight of an object is the force acting on the object due to gravity. Some standard ...
were offering free hosting.


Classification


Smaller hosting services

The most basic is
web page A web page (or webpage) is a hypertext Hypertext is text displayed on a or other with references () to other text that the reader can immediately access. Hypertext documents are interconnected by hyperlinks, which are typically acti ...

web page
and small-scale file hosting, where files can be
upload Uploading refers to ''transmitting'' data Data are units of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature ...

upload
ed via
File Transfer Protocol The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard communication protocol A communication protocol is a system of rules that allows two or more entities of a communications system 400px, Communication system A communications system or com ...
(FTP) or a Web interface. The files are usually delivered to the Web "as is" or with minimal processing. Many
Internet service provider An Internet service provider (ISP) is an organization that provides a myriad of services for accessing, using, or participating in the Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that ...
s (ISPs) offer this service free to subscribers. Individuals and organizations may also obtain Web page hosting from alternative service providers. Free web hosting service is offered by different companies with limited services, sometimes supported by advertisements, and often limited when compared to paid hosting. Single page hosting is generally sufficient for
personal web page Personal web pages are world wide web web page, pages created by an individual to contain content of a personal nature rather than content pertaining to a company, organization or institution. Personal web pages are primarily used for informative ...
s. Personal web site hosting is typically free, advertisement-sponsored, or inexpensive. Business web site hosting often has a higher expense depending upon the size and type of the site.


Larger hosting services

Many large companies that are not Internet service providers need to be permanently connected to the web to send email, files, etc. to other sites. The company may use the computer as a website host to provide details of their goods and services and facilities for online orders. A complex site calls for a more comprehensive package that provides
database In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and sof ...

database
support Support may refer to: Business and finance * Support (technical analysis) * Child support * Customer support * Income Support Construction * Support (structure), or lateral support, a type of structural support to help prevent sideways movement * ...
and application development platforms (e.g. ASP.NET,
ColdFusion Adobe ColdFusion is a commercial rapid web-application development computing platform created by J. J. Allaire in 1995. (The programming language A programming language is a formal language In logic, mathematics, computer science, and ...

ColdFusion
,
Java EE Jakarta EE, formerly Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) and Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE), is a set of specifications, extending Java SE Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) is a computing platform A computing platfo ...
, Perl/Plack,
PHP PHP is a general-purpose scripting language A scripting language or script language is a programming language A programming language is a formal language comprising a Instruction set architecture, set of instructions that produce various k ...

PHP
or
Ruby on Rails Ruby on Rails, or Rails, is a server-side In the client–server model Client-server model is a distributed application Distributed computing is a field of computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of ...
). These facilities allow customers to write or install scripts for applications like forums and
content management Content management (CM) is a set of processes and technologies that supports the collection, managing, and publishing of information in any form or medium. When stored and accessed via computers, this information may be more specifically referred to ...
. Also,
Secure Sockets Layer Transport Layer Security (TLS), the successor of the now-deprecated Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), is a cryptographic protocols, cryptographic protocol designed to provide communications security over a computer network. The Communication protocol, ...
(SSL) is typically used for websites that wish to keep the data transmitted more secure.


Types of hosting

Internet hosting services can run
Web servers A web server is computer software and underlying hardware that accepts requests via HTTP The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application layer An application layer is an abstraction layer that specifies the shared communications ...
. The scope of web hosting services varies greatly.


Shared web hosting service A shared web hosting service is a web hosting service where many websites reside on one web server connected to the Internet. This is generally the most economical option for hosting, as the overall cost of server maintenance is spread over many cu ...

One's website is placed on the same server as many other sites, ranging from a few sites to hundreds of websites. Typically, all domains may share a common pool of server resources, such as
RAM Random-access memory (RAM; ) is a form of computer memory In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic proces ...

RAM
and the
CPU A central processing unit (CPU), also called a central processor, main processor or just processor, is the electronic circuit File:PExdcr01CJC.jpg, 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PCB). An electronic circuit is composed of ...

CPU
. The features available with this type of service can be quite basic and not flexible in terms of software and updates.
Resellers A reseller is a company (law), company or individual (merchant) that purchases good (economics), goods or Service (economics), services with the intention of selling them rather than consuming or using them. This is usually done for profit (but cou ...
often sell shared web hosting and web companies often have reseller accounts to provide hosting for clients.


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 colocated server. Many resellers provide a nearly identical service to their provider's shared hosting plan and provide the technical support themselves.


Virtual Dedicated Server

Also known as a
Virtual Private Server A virtual private server (VPS) is a virtual machine In computing, a virtual machine (VM) is the virtualization/emulator, emulation of a computer system. Virtual machines are based on computer architectures and provide functionality of a physic ...
(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 In computing, the superuser is a special user account used for system administration. Depending on the operating system (OS), the actual name of this account might be root, administrator, admin or supervisor. In some cases, the actual name of th ...
to their own virtual space. Customers are sometimes responsible for patching and maintaining the server (unmanaged server) or the VPS provider may provide server admin tasks for the customer (managed server).


Dedicated hosting service A dedicated hosting service, dedicated server, or managed hosting service is a type of Internet hosting in which the client leases an entire Server (computing), server not shared with anyone else. This is more flexible than shared hosting, as org ...

The user gets his or her own Web server and gains full control over it (user has
root access In computing, the superuser is a special user account used for system administration. Depending on the operating system (OS), the actual name of this account might be root, administrator, admin or supervisor. In some cases, the actual name of th ...
for Linux/administrator access for Windows); however, the user typically does not own the server. One 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 server, which means the client is responsible for the security and maintenance of his own dedicated server.


Managed hosting service

The user gets his or her own Web server but is not allowed full control over it (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. 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 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 or her own administrator visit the data center on site to do any hardware upgrades or changes. Formerly, many colocation providers would accept any system configuration for hosting, even ones housed in desktop-style minitower cases, but most hosts now require
rack mount A 19-inch rack is a standardized frame or enclosure for mounting multiple electronic equipment modules. Each module has a front panel that is wide. The 19 inch dimension includes the edges or "ears" that protrude from each side of the equi ...
enclosures and standard system configurations.


This is 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 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 on where their data is located which could be a problem for users with
data security Data security means protecting digital data Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware * Digital electronics, electronic circuits which operate using digital signals **Digital ...
or
privacy Privacy (, ) is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively. When something is private to a person, it usually means that something is inherently special ...
concerns as per
GDPR The General Data Protection Regulation (EU2016/679(GDPR) is a in on and privacy in the (EU) and the (EEA). The GDPR is an important component of EU and of , in particular Article 8(1) of the . It also addresses the transfer of outside t ...
guidelines. Cloud hosting users can request additional resources on-demand such as only during periods of peak traffic, while offloading IT management to the cloud hosting service.


Clustered hosting

Having multiple servers hosting the same content for better resource utilization. Clustered servers are 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. (Usually web hosts use clustered hosting for their shared hosting plans, as there are multiple benefits to the mass managing of clients).


Grid hosting

This form of distributed hosting is when a server cluster acts like a grid and is composed of multiple nodes.


Home server A home server is a computing server located in a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an ...

Usually a single machine placed in a private residence can be used to host one or more web sites from a usually consumer-grade
broadband In telecommunications Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over , radio, , or other systems. It has its origin in the desire of humans for communication over a distance greater than that fea ...
connection. These can be purpose-built machines or more commonly old PCs. 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. A common way to attain a reliable DNS host name is by creating an account with a
dynamic DNS Dynamic DNS (DDNS) is a method of automatically updating a name server A name server refers to the server component of the Domain Name System The Domain Name System (DNS) is the hierarchical and Decentralised system, decentralized naming ...
service. A dynamic
DNS The Domain Name System (DNS) is the hierarchical and Decentralised system, decentralized naming system used to identify computers, Internet#Applications_and_services, services, and other resources reachable through the internet or other intern ...

DNS
service will automatically change the IP address that a
URL A Uniform Resource Locator (URL), colloquially termed a web address, is a reference to a web resource that specifies its location on a computer network A computer network is a group of computers that use a set of common communication prot ...

URL
points to when the IP address changes. Some specific types of hosting provided by web host service providers: *
File hosting service A file hosting service, cloud storage service, online file storage provider, or cyberlocker is an internet hosting service specifically designed to host user files. It allows users to upload files that could be accessed over the internet afte ...
: hosts files, not web pages *
Image hosting service {{internet hosting, right An image hosting service allows individuals to upload image An image (from la, imago) is an artifact that depicts visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment ...
*
Video hosting service An online video platform (OVP), provided by a video hosting service, enables users to upload, convert, store and play back video content on the Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Internet, or internet) is the global system of int ...
*
Blog hosting service A blog (a truncation In mathematics and computer science, truncation is limiting the number of numerical digit, digits right of the decimal point. Truncation and floor function Truncation of positive real numbers can be done using the flo ...
* Paste bin *
Shopping cart software Shopping cart software is a piece of e-commerce E-commerce (electronic commerce) is the activity of electronically buying or selling of products on online services or over the Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Internet, or ...
* E-mail hosting service


Host management

The host may also provide an interface or control panel for managing the
Web server A web server is computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Computer program, pr ...
and installing scripts, as well as other modules and service applications like e-mail. A web server that does not use a control panel for managing the hosting account, is often referred to as a "headless" server. Some hosts specialize in certain software or services (e.g. e-commerce, blogs, etc.).


Reliability and uptime

The
availability In reliability engineering Reliability engineering is a sub-discipline of systems engineering that emphasizes the ability of equipment to function without failure. Reliability describes the ability of a system or component to function under st ...
of a website is measured by the percentage of a year in which the website is publicly accessible and reachable via the Internet. This is different from measuring the
uptime Uptime is a measure of system reliability, expressed as the percentage of time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the pas ...
of a system. Uptime refers to the system itself being online. Uptime does not take into account being able to reach it as in the event of a network outage. A hosting provider's
Service Level Agreement A service-level agreement (SLA) is a commitment between a service provider A service provider (SP) provides organizations with consulting, legal, real estate, communications, storage, processing. Although a service provider can be an organization ...
(SLA) may include a certain amount of scheduled
downtime The term downtime is used to refer to periods when a system is unavailable. The unavailability is the proportion of a time-span that a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a s ...
per year in order to perform maintenance on the systems. This scheduled downtime is often excluded from the SLA timeframe, and needs to be subtracted from the Total Time when availability is calculated. Depending on the wording of an SLA, if the availability of a system drops below that in the signed SLA, a hosting provider often will provide a partial refund for time lost. How downtime is determined changes from provider to provider, therefore reading the SLA is imperative. Not all providers release uptime statistics. Most hosting providers will guarantee at least 99.9% uptime which will allow for 43m of downtime per month, or 8h 45m of downtime per year.


Obtaining hosting

Web hosting is often provided as part of a general Internet access plan from
Internet service providers#REDIRECT Internet service provider {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
. There are also many free and paid providers offering web hosting. A customer needs to evaluate the requirements of the application to choose what kind of hosting to use. Such considerations include database server software, scripting software, and
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
. Most hosting providers provide Linux-based web hosting which offers a wide range of different software. A typical configuration for a Linux server is the LAMP platform:
Linux Linux ( or ) is a family of open-source Open source is source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product ...

Linux
,
Apache The Apache () are a group of culturally related Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans ...
,
MySQL MySQL () is an open-source Open source is source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product. The open-source m ...
, and
PHP PHP is a general-purpose scripting language A scripting language or script language is a programming language A programming language is a formal language comprising a Instruction set architecture, set of instructions that produce various k ...

PHP
/
Perl Perl is a family of two high-level High-level and low-level, as technical terms, are used to classify, describe and point to specific Objective (goal), goals of a systematic operation; and are applied in a wide range of contexts, such as, for ...
/
Python Python may refer to: * Pythonidae The Pythonidae, commonly known as pythons, are a family of nonvenomous snakes found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Among its members are some of the largest snakes in the world. Ten genera and 42 species ...
. The web hosting client may want to have other services, such as email for their business domain, databases or multimedia services. A customer may also choose Windows as the hosting platform. The customer still can choose from Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby, but the customer may also use ASP.NET or ASP Classic. Web hosting packages often include a
web content management system A web content management system (WCM or WCMS) is a software content management system (CMS) specifically for web content. It provides website authoring, collaboration, and administration tools that help users with little knowledge of web programm ...
, so the end-user does not have to worry about the more technical aspects.


Security

Because web hosting services host websites belonging to their customers, online security is an important concern. When a customer agrees to use a web hosting service, they are relinquishing control of the security of their site to the company that is hosting the site. The level of security that a web hosting service offers is extremely important to a prospective customer and can be a major consideration when considering which provider a customer may choose. Web hosting servers can be attacked by malicious users in different ways, including uploading
malware Malware (a portmanteau for malicious software) is any software intentionally designed to cause disruption to a computer, server (computing), server, Client (computing), client, or computer network, leak private information, gain unauthorized acc ...

malware
or malicious
code In communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', mean ...

code
onto a hosted
website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web page A web page (or webpage) is a hypertext Hypertext is text displayed on a or other with references () to other text that the reader can immediately access. Hyperte ...

website
. These attacks may be done for different reasons, including stealing credit card data, launching a
Distributed Denial of Service Attack In computing, a denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) is a cyber-attack in which the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended user (computing), users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting network se ...
(DDoS) or
spamming Spamming is the use of messaging systems to send multiple unsolicited messages (spam) to large numbers of recipients for the purpose of commercial advertising Advertising is a marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non ...
.


See also


References

{{WebManTools Web hosting Website management