A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to provide their own website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server they own 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.
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. To find a web hosting company, searchable directories 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.
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 (SLA). SLAs sometimes include refunds or reduced costs if performance goals are not met.
Hosting services limited to the Web:
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 hostname is by creating an account with a dynamic DNS service. A dynamic DNS service will automatically change the IP address that a URL points to when the IP address changes.
Some specific types of hosting provided by web host service providers:
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. 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, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Perl/Python. The webhosting client may want to have other services, such as email for their business domain, databases or multi-media services for streaming media. A customer may also choose Windows as the hosting platform. The customer still can choose from PHP, Perl, and Python but may also use ASP .Net or Classic ASP.
Web hosting packages often include a Web Content Management System, so the end-user doesn't have to worry about the more technical aspects. These Web Content Management systems are great for the average user, but for those who want more control over their website design, this feature may not be adequate.
Most modern desktop operating systems (Windows, Linux, Mac OSX) are also capable of running web server software, and thus can be used to host basic websites.
One may also search the Internet to find active webhosting message boards and forums that may provide feedback on what type of webhosting company may suit his/her needs. However some of these message boards and forums will require not only registration, but a paid subscription to be able to access the sections and sub forums with such information.