[ glossary ]


What is web hosting?

Web hosting refers to the running of one or more web sites on a designated "server" computer. Often, parts of this process are outsourced to companies that specialize in running web servers. Those companies are called web hosting providers.

What is a web host?

A web hosting provider (or web host) is a company that hosts and maintains the server computer which runs your web site. The computer can be owned by you or (more typically) by the hosting company, but the important thing is that it's physically located on the provider's premises and is plugged into the provider's Internet connection. Why is it important? For several reasons: first of all, it eliminates the need to set up a permanent, high-speed, two-way connection in your office (or home), set up a power backup system in case of power outages, potentially reduces your electricity consumption (which is essentially paid for by the web hosting provider), and potentially improves your web site's security.

Can't I host my web site myself, in my home or office?

Yes, you can. If you already have a DSL, T-1, or, in some cases, cable connection in your home or office, you can dedicate one of the computers to be your web server and run it yourself. In this case, you don't incur any extra charges for web hosting (of course, you still have to pay for your connectivity).

However, this has often been shown to be the least efficient method of hosting as it puts heavy additional requirements on your office connectivity line (with DSL, for instance, realistically, you will have to use the more expensive symmetric DSL (SDSL) variant), exposes you to security risks, requires a dedicated computer which can not be turned off, and so on. But yes, this is possible. Read our article on Web Hosting on DSL/Cable/T1 for more information.

How do I get my own domain name?

It's important to realize that domain registration is separate from web hosting and these two services can be (and often are) provided by two completely different companies.

You can register your domain name with any of the ICANN-approved domain registrars and the registration does not tie you to any particular web host. Furthermore, you can change web hosting providers while maintaining the same domain registrar or vice versa. Read more about Domain Names.