Web hosting

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Key points

  • Web hosting is online storage provided to users who wish to publish web pages online. A web host runs a web server, which allows pages to be publicly viewable, and provides the user with access to write/amend the files on the website.
  • Web hosting is usually accessed from a domain name which much be purchased and pointed to the web hosting provider. A web host will provide a user with storage space on their server. Any page put within the public area of the storage space will be accessible from the web site's address.


Types of hosting

  • Shared hosting is a single user account on a web server. Shared hosting servers can have thousands of separate accounts, which allows the web host to cut costs as each website shares the hardware and running costs. Shared hosting can be free (often because the web host will add adverts to the web pages) or for a small fee. Shared hosting is secure (no user can access another user's files) but is more susceptible to hacking, because of the number of accounts on one server.
  • Dedicated hosting will give a user the resources of a full server. This can be very expensive, as the user is paying for the hardware and running costs of a computer hosted in a data centre. Dedicated hosting is very secure as only one user has access to the server, and the resources aren't shared.
  • Virtual private servers are a cheaper form of dedicated host, where several virtual machines are run on one server. This means each account has its own "private" computer with full access, but the resources of one server are divided up amongst them. This is secure, but if one of the virtual machines crashes the computer, other virtual machines may be affected.
  • Self-hosting can be achieved by connecting a computer to a home router. The computer can act as a web server if the firewall of the router is set to allow public web traffic (HTTP port 80) to access the computer. The computer would need to remain on for 24 hour access, and this could generate costs both through use of electricity and bandwidth on the network of the ISP.


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