An Internet hosting service is a service that runs Internet servers, allowing organizations and individuals to serve content to the Internet. There are various levels of service and various kinds of services offered.
Shared web hosting
Shared hosting is the most basic and the most popular of all web hosting services.
The hosting service provider places several (sometimes quite a few) web sites on a single powerful machine. Each customer can configure one or more domains on this computer and these domains often "map" to the same IP address.
Because computing resources and bandwidth are shared there are some restrictions on what customers can and can not do with their web sites:
- Restrictions on the type of CGI scripts that can be run on a shared server.
- "Cap" on the maximum bandwidth consumption by any one particular web site.
- No root-level access to the web server.
- Restrictions on other kinds of servers - for example, database server.
Online file storage is generally when a company, service, or application allows you to "virtually" store any computer file on the Internet. This will make the file (including media such as photos, music, video) available through any computer with internet access.
Virtual server hosting
Several web sites are still physically placed on a single computer server, but the number of such sites is lower and each one is given a dedicated "copy" of the operating system (e.g. Linux), along with a guaranteed portion of computer resources (disk, memory), a separate copy of web server software (e.g. Apache), in addition to direct "root-level" access to the server itself.
In fact, to the web site administrator it's all but indistinguishable from the "dedicated" solution (see below), even though the physical computer is still shared. This arrangement allows for a much higher level of customization: since you have full access to the server, you can install additional software (such as database servers) on your virtual "machine", reconfigure the web hosting software.
Dedicated server hosting
Dedicated server hosting means that the computer which is used to serve your web site(s) is yours and yours only (you are effectively leasing it from your web host). No one else will be consuming computing resources of your machine and you have the complete freedom in terms of configuring both the server and all software running on it.