Web hosting

Definition of Web hosting in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is Web hosting?

Hosting of Web content for other businesses. Web hosting providers range from local Internet service providers (ISPs) who provide businesses with a few dozen megabytes of server space and access to Perl scripting engines to global-presence companies with server farms that offer dedicated servers, e-mail accounts, domain name holding, support for Web content development tools such as Microsoft FrontPage, support for Web application development platforms such as Microsoft Visual InterDev, open database connectivity (ODBC) support, domain name hosting and holding services, and so on. Some industry watchers estimate that about two-thirds of all corporate Web sites are hosted by Web hosting service providers.


Web hosting became big business around 1998. Web hosting providers are rapidly being supplanted by “content hosting” providers that offer an even greater range of services, which can include back-end system integration, custom programming, security management, and site mirroring. However, the distinction between the terms “Web hosting” and “content hosting” is often blurred in this rapidly evolving market.


When you shop for a Web hosting or content hosting service provider, find out what degree of availability they guarantee. Some providers offer 100 percent availability with no downtime and give clients a refund if any downtime occurs, even a few minutes. They can ensure 100 percent availability by hosting sites on multiple redundant servers and scheduling maintenance so that one server is always online.

Also be sure that the provider offers the full range of services that you require (or might soon require), such as database access and site mirroring. Find out the size of the pipe connecting the provider with the Internet backbone and at which point of presence (POP) the provider is connected to the Internet. For business hosting purposes, a minimum dual OC3 connection with guaranteed 155-Mbps throughput is recommended. Decide whether you want dedicated or shared hosting - that is, whether you are willing to share a server and its network bandwidth with other companies or whether you require the stability, reliability, and throughput of your own dedicated Web server.