Types of Hosting

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There are many hosting services on the internet today. Knowing what sort of features and control are included in each type of hosting is important to making the right choice. Purchasing web hosting, when one is going to be using the space as an FTP and file storage site or simply an email service could be a costly decision.

DNS Hosting: DNS hosting is a service that provides a space and the needed software to hold a DNS record for a domain name and make it available to the public internet.

E-mail Hosting: Many people are familiar with the free webmail services provided through places like Gmail and Yahoo, an e-mail hosting service is similar. E-mail hosting providers run dedicated e-mail servers. E-mail accounts with these hosting services are based on the customer's individual domain name.

Game Server Hosting: Game servers require large amounts of bandwidth and processing. Game server that hosts on the same server as the gaming software and limits the number of people who connect to it, is called a Listen Server, they are often used by individuals for local area network, (LAN), parties. Dedicated servers on the other hand, run on a separate machine and can support large numbers of players.

Application Specific Hosting: Don't need a fully functioning website? There are hundreds of hosting companies that specialize in providing an account specific web page with only a single function-
Blog Hosting (Xanga, LiveJournal) lets people have an account specifically for writing. It usually provides for the main article space and a comment space for corrections, comments, and feedback.
Image Hosting (photobucket, flickr) provides storage space for images and allows hot linking- a link to the image that uses the hosting provider's bandwidth.
Video Hosting (YouTube) provides storage space for videos and allows hot linking- a link to the video that uses the hosting provider's bandwidth.
Wiki Farms provide software, space and bandwidth for hosting a wiki system. Many groups and companies use the wiki systems to post information such as company policies.

File Hosting: File hosting enables clients to store files, software, and have an off site back up system. It allows FTP and downloads of content through web access. File sharing through FTP or web downloads uses large amounts of bandwidth. Hosting of this nature can be more expensive to purchase, but worth the cost. Going with a web hosting service if you are going to have this type of a site, will cost you in other ways. Almost all web hosting companies have a terms of service policy stating that accounts can not store anything on the servers that are not website specific. Stored files and software can and often are deleted from servers without warning. These files on a server are sometimes targeted by either size or by extension, (.mp3, .avi etc..). Accounts are also limited to a maximum amount of bandwidth. An account exceeding this bandwidth is either throttled, (they shut down traffic to the account by closing connections to the account or slowing down the transfer rate of data), suspended, or deleted all together.

Remote Site Back Up Hosting: This type of system is specifically just for storage space to ensure that a copy of data is stored off site in the event that something should happen. The biggest disadvantages of this are slow bandwidth, if files are not encrypted there is no guarantee of privacy, and encrypted files could be lost forever if the password is ever lost.

Full-Featured Hosting: This means that the user has greater control and access over their system than most other services. It also means the user is responsible for the technical support of the products they purchase.
Colocation Centre provides a physical location and environment where customers can set up and keep their physical equipment and connect to a network system.
Dedicated Hosting involves a hosting service leasing/renting an entire machine to a single person. The client has control of and is responsible for all software related items on the server, while the hosting company is responsible for the hardware.
Virtual Private Servers (VPS) involves accounts being partitioned on a single physical computer. Each account can be independently re-booted and run on it's own operating system. The biggest appeal to these is that the user has shell and root access to their account for installing programs they want to run.

Web Hosting: These type of services usually provide for web page and email services. They may limit the size, number, or types of files clients are allowed to upload. This type of hosting can have all services and features offered on a single server system or on a clustered system. Single server means that everything having to do with the account is held on a single machine. Email, databases and web pages are all on the same computer. In a clustered format, the different parts of a website are held on different computers. The web files are on one server while there is a dedicated email server and a dedicated database server.
Free Hosting is supported by ads, banners or pop-ups. Web site addresses are usually based on account name and hosting company name, (www.user.freewebpage.com or www.freepage.com/user).
Shared Hosting this is the most common system used by individuals and small companies. In this system a single server has several hundred user accounts that share a single operating system. It provides for separate user accounts with space for web files, email system, URL based on a domain name, databases, and other such features. The biggest disadvantage is shared resources. A single user could black list the shared server IP address by sending out large quantities of SPAM or a web site that gets a large amount of traffic hogging the server bandwidth can cause all the other accounts to load very slow.
Reseller/Multiple Domain Hosting is where a person or company purchases hosting from a larger company that already has the hardware and software resources, (generally at a bulk discounted price), and then resells these accounts or portions of these accounts to other people.

Hosting can normally be found on either a windows platform or a UNIX/Linux platform. Most of these systems include a graphical user interface control panel. These may have buttons, text links, or icons.

The biggest advantage of the UNIX/Linux platform is that they have a faster and more powerful operating system. Since most versions of the operating system are free distribution, most hosting companies offer hosting on this type of platform at a lower price. The majority of web based programs and applications run very well on this type of platform.

While the windows platforms are usually slightly less stable, they support ASP. Pages coded in ASP, must be on a windows platform in order for the scripting to be recognized by the server. A windows system also takes a longer period of time to make changes to an account. Requests such as adding a new email user to the system must go to a queue to be processed on a windows server. Depending on how busy the server is, this queue time can take anywhere from one minute to one day. Most hosting providers offer smaller disk space at a higher price with less features on windows servers do to the cost of purchasing licenses to run the software. The biggest advantage to a Windows system is the ASP support and the ability to use Access databases.