Terminology: What is Hosting

Frequently, I respond to questions about “hosting” and quickly find out that everyone has a different view on what is included or intended. Here are the terms and concepts as I see them.

  • Web Hosting – hosting a web-site. Frequently, this also provides for email and FTP hosting. It is important to know that web hosting can be separated from email hosting, application hosting, etc.
  • EMail Hosting – hosting the email traffic and user mailboxes. For smaller businesses, this is done on the same server and with the same account as the web hosting, but if the email traffic get larger or needs “groupware” features, the email hosting will be separated from the web hosting.
  • Dedicated Hosting – hosting on a server that it is totally dedicated to a single customer. For smaller sites with less traffic, this is usually not required unless the web application needs custom components or has special security concersn. A dedicated hosted server has a (at least one) unique IP address.
  • Shared Hosting – hosting of multiple web-sites on the same server. This is very typical for smaller sites. These site usually share the same IP address, and there is an extra fee for a unique IP address. A unique IP address would be required if an SSL Certificate is required (to use HTTPS instead of HTTP).
  • Virtual Private Servers – This is a combination of Dedicated and Shared hosting techniques. The hardware is shared by multiple customers, but each has a “virtual server” so that they can customize the software and/or resources. A VPS hosting has its on unique IP address.
  • Co-Lo Hosting – Co-Lo is short for “co-location”, meaning that the hosting company provides physical space and power, and the customer provides the servers and the management of the servers. Each physical space is (usually) physically locked so that one customer cannot access another customer’s equipment.
  • Cloud Hosting – This is a “virtual server” environment in which resources can be quickly and easily added. This is used frequently for hosting requirements that change frequently. With Cloud Hosting, the server administrators and add more processing power and/or bandwidth so that the site can handle more traffic.

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