Hosting

Web hosting service

A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their own website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server they own or lease 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.

Service scope

The scope of hosting services varies widely. The most basic is web page and small-scale file hosting, where files can be uploaded via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or a Web interface. The files are usually delivered to the Web “as is” or with little processing. Many Internet service providers (ISPs) offer this service free to their subscribers. People can also obtain Web page hosting from other, alternative service providers. Personal web site hosting is typically free, advertisement-sponsored, or inexpensive. Business web site hosting often has a higher expense.

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.

Hosting reliability and uptime

Hosting uptime refers to the percentage of time the host is accessible via the internet. Many providers state that they aim for at least 99.9% uptime (roughly equivalent to 45 minutes of downtime a month, or less), but there may be server restarts and planned (or unplanned) maintenance in any hosting environment, which may or may not be considered part of the official uptime promise.

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.

Types of hosting

A typical server “rack,” commonly seen in colocation centres.Internet hosting services can run Web servers; see Internet hosting services.

Hosting services limited to the Web:

Many large companies who are not internet service providers also need a computer permanently connected to the web so they can send email, files, etc. to other sites. They may also use the computer as a website host so they can provide details of their goods and services to anyone interested. Additionally these people may decide to place online orders.

  • Free web hosting service: offered by different companies with limited services, sometimes supported by advertisements, and often limited when compared to paid hosting.
  • Shared web hosting service: one’s website is placed on the same server as many other sites, ranging from a few to hundreds or thousands. Typically, all domains may share a common pool of server resources, such as RAM and the CPU.

The features available with this type of service can be quite extensive. A shared website may be hosted with a reseller.

  • 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 provider.

Resellers’ accounts may vary tremendously in size: they may have their own virtual dedicated server to a collocated 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 (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 to their own virtual space. Customers are sometimes responsible for patching and maintaining the server.

  • Dedicated hosting service: the user gets his or her own Web server and gains full control over it (root access for Linux/administrator access for Windows); however, the user typically does not own the server.

Unmanaged hosting service: This is usually the least expensive for Dedicated plans. The user has full administrative access to the box, which means the client is responsible for the security and maintenance of his own dedicated box.

Managed hosting service: the user gets his or her own Web server but is not allowed full control over it (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 own administrator visit the data center on site to do any hardware upgrades or changes.

  • Cloud Hosting: is a new type of hosting platform that allows customers powerful, scalable and reliable hosting based on clustered load-balanced servers and utility billing. Removing single-point of failures and allowing customers to pay for only what they use versus what they could use.
  • 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.
  • Grid hosting: this form of distributed hosting is when a server cluster acts like a grid and is composed of multiple nodes.
  • Home server: 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 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 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:

  • File hosting service: hosts files, not web pages
  • Image hosting service
  • Video hosting service
  • Blog hosting service
  • One-click hosting
  • Pastebin Hosts text snippets
  • Shopping cart software
  • E-mail hosting service

Obtaining hosting

Web hosting is often provided as part of a general Internet access plan; there are many free and paid providers offering these services.

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.

See: Wikipedia

2010-04-15 Hosting

Web Hosting

Hosting for fun

Since creating my first webpage using a “site builder” script on a Free Web hosting provider. I have been hooked into making webpages. The site you see before you is the cumulative effect of many years of learning about the internet and what makes it tick.

Over the years I have gone from Free hosting (with ads in my pages) to Free hosting (without ads), to home hosting (on dsl and 31.2 kbps dialup), and eventually to Paid Shared hosting.

Hosting for fun and profit?

Free hosting is ok for a bit of fun. But you cant rely on it being there forever. Home hosting is fine for the next step up. But if your site becomes too popular it eventually becomes too much of a data bottleneck for all but those with the best of internet plans. Paid Shared Hosting offers the most inexpensive solution coupled with reliability (This is where I am currently at).

Shared Hosting pitfalls

As with anything in this world. You need to research the problem before making a decision. The Shared Hosting market is a maze of differing plans.

You need to compared the options and obviously go for something that offers the most features for the least price.

But then the issue of who the company is that your proposing to trust your data with. Will they be there in 6 months or will they just dissappear? Is the service going to provide decent uptime or is it going to be frustratingly unreliable?

After visiting various Webhosting forums you can get an image of what kinds of issues customers have with different Web hosting services. Tho I must admit that most issues people seem to have is with understanding exactly what they need to do to get their service working properly.

Most of the Web hosting service providers operate scripts that are capable enough in setting up the required service. Daunting to a first time user, these scripts, many of the options have answers that your assumed to know the answer to.

With very little or inadaquate help to explain exactly what values needs to be inserted into the appropriate options. Much research is again required.

Pitfalls

I have had a few issues with my Web hosting provider. Mostly caused by me not understanding exactly what I needed to understand. Mainly because my Web hosting provider assumes that they are dealing with someone who really knows what they are doing. (Which I mostly dont.. But learning fast..)

I think my best advise is to communicate. Open a service ticket or email with your hosting support and tell them exactly that your a noob and need handholding to get over your hurdle (whatever that is..)

It’s been my experience to then have my issues solved for me. By just following their instructions carefully.

Other Pitfalls

When I first started with Shared hosting I selected the cheapest plan with the most limiting options. After only 2 weeks I realized that my selected plan was too limiting. So I upgraded to the next plan up. A few months later I upgraded to the biggest and best plan. Because there really was very little difference in price. Especially when you consider the added features the top plans will give you.

Limited Domains

Initially I was only serving two domain names. The cheapest plan allowed me to serve up to 5 domain names. Within 2 weeks I had purchased more domain names and needed to create content and serve them. So I upgraded my hosting plan to one that allowed up to 10 domain names. But after a few months of operation. I could see the writing on the wall and realized that I could have unlimited domain hosting and would be able to provide hosting also for other people. If I purchased the best hosting plan. So I did.

Phishing

Then one day.. I was updating my Blog and OpenDNS gives me a page that tells me that this site.. (My own Blog) is a phishing site. OMFG!!!

So I check my other domains.. and ALL of them are now being blocked as phishing sites. !!!!!!!!

I go into panic mode.

Jump into my FTP software and check the file structure tree. Looking for the added directories etc.. Looking for updated index.php’s etc etc But I couldn’t find anything. Highly frustrating.

Eventually (after much hair pulling) I send a support ticket to my Hosting provider. After a short time the offending content is suspended. My Hosting provider then informs me that a rogue customer that was on the same ip number as many many other domain had caused the problem.

When I check the current hosting plans I realize that a dedicated ip is included in their current top plan. So I ask to be upgraded (they do this for free) to the current top plan.

Dedicated IP

Well.. my problems with this are now over. Because although I’m still on shared hosting. My domains now have their own ip number. This problem of having my domains flagged as phishing sites is now over. So really a dedicated ip is a must when getting serious about hosting.

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