Web Hosting: An Introduction
Important: Someone needs to write the "Types of Hosting Control Panels" section. This article also needs cleanup.
What is Web Hosting?Edit
When someone sets up a server and hooks it up to the Internet, the files on the server become accessible over the Internet. Web Hosting is the space on a Web server where you can upload files. If you upload HTML files, you'll have a Web site. If you upload .ZIP files, you'll have a download area. There are a lot of organizations that provide Web hosting.
What does Web Hosting do?Edit
Most companies own their own servers these days, but some still pay for Web hosting. Let's say John Doe decides he wants to sell his paintings online. He purchases Web hosting, and sets up a Web site. Jane Doe, on the other hand, wants to set up a forum system. She purchases Web hosting and installs the forums. If you know how, you can make an entire Web site, or put any files you want, online, via your Web hosting.
In addition, over the last few years hundreds of "Web site softwares" have been written that, when installed onto your hosting account, give you an immediate Web site.
When looking for a Web site software, it's important to consider the software license. If you stick with free software when selecting your Web site software, you will have the advantage of new software releases that are made available free of charge. Commercial, albeit more powerful, alternatives are often available..
How and Where can I get hosting?Edit
Web hosting is available in two forms — paid and free.
Paid Web hosting has a periodic fee, be it monthly, quarterly or annually, and typically provides considerable amounts of storage space for your files. Depending on the service, one may get additional support for server-side scripts, Web commerce support, visitor traffic reports, and so on. If the hosting service has high-speed connections to the Internet and fast server equipment, it may be able to provide access for many thousands of visitors and allow downloading of tens of gigabytes of files, and more, per day. Technical support is usually available around the clock, by telephone, Web chat or email, allowing the subscriber to resolve most problems in a few minutes, or, at most, in several hours.
Free hosting, on the other hand, typically has severely limited file storage space and low bandwidth provisions. It may be run on equipment that is just as capable as that used by paid hosting services, but it is usually an adjunct to some other business being carried out by the provider. Your Web pages will be presented to the site visitor along with advertising banners or pop-up advertisements as a way of recovering the cost of providing this free service to you. Support for server-side scripts may be limited or non-existent, as well as access to many of the basic functions that most Web hosting programs are capable of providing. Technical support is usually limited, usually by email only, with response times figured in days. If you are a novice, a free service may be the place to start, as they often provide semi-automated site-building templates and online tutorials.
With the recent drop in monthly fees for Web hosting — usually in the range of a few dollars a month for a basic plan — it is recommended that one subscribe to decent, commercial hosting service.
Free hosting sites are over-subscribed and would be good for those who do not mind waiting for periods of time for support resolution.
Reseller accounts allow clients to divide their account and sell or distribute these allocations to other users. For example, if John purchases a 10GB reseller account, he can then sell ten 1GB accounts. Shared hosting refers to the fact that there are usually 100+ people per server — in effect, "sharing" the server.
Types of hosting control panelsEdit
Comparison of Web hosting control panels at Wikipedia
Running a site on your personal computerEdit
This section should probably be removed or moved into a new section/category — running a home server is not related to remote Web hosting.
Most home Internet connections can be used to create a home server to act as your personal Web Host. Depending on connection speed (especially upload speed), it can be slow or fast. The simplest type of Web server is probably running HTTP server software like Apache using an operating system, typically either Linux or Windows.
More information is available on the Wikipedia article about Web Hosting.