When a server is fully operational and uses the Internet to deliver its services, then it is said that this server is providing an Internet hosting service. This is truly an umbrella term because it applies to every server that is connected to the Internet regardless of its purpose. And since different servers are designed to perform different tasks, disparate activities like website hosting, game server hosting, and even home server hosting can all be classified as Internet hosting services.
At this point, we should mention that an Internet hosting provider is different from an Internet Service Provider (ISP). An Internet Service Provider only supplies you with a connection to the Internet and has no bearing on what services are available to you online. In contrast, Internet hosting providers make online services available to anyone who already has an Internet connection through an ISP.
To learn even more about what an Internet hosting service is, continue reading or jump to the section that interests you:
- What Types of Internet Hosting Services Are There?
- What Level of Support Can I Expect From My Internet Hosting Service Provider?
- How Is My Internet Hosting Service Bill Calculated?
- Is Internet Hosting Secure?
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What Types of Internet Hosting Services Are There?
Internet-connected servers carry out a lot of different tasks and consequently, there are quite a few Internet hosting services. Below, we will list some of the most notable services that you may already be using:
- Website hosting is one of the most notable Internet hosting services since it enables the World Wide Web that we know today. Without web servers, you would not be able to have a personal blog and companies would not be able to sell their products through online stores.
- Email hosting is another essential Internet hosting service that enables worldwide communication through electronic mail. Although it is now supplanted by instant messaging, email services are still an important part in the lives of many people across the world.
- DNS hosting is a lesser-known Internet hosting service that is vital to the way we use the web. DNS servers are responsible for mapping website URLs to the actual IP addresses of the underlying web servers. So without DNS servers, you would not be able to visit AwardSpace by simply navigating to www.awardspace.com in your web browser. Instead, you would need to memorize a random IP address which would look like 192.168.100.100.
- Database hosting is another hosting service that is essential to how the modern web works. Most interactive websites are comprised of both website files as well as a database where all information is kept. So without database servers, the web would be comprised of mostly static HTML pages and would look like it did twenty years ago.
- File hosting was one of the first Internet hosting services in existence. Thanks to file servers, you can transfer files from one computer to another. File hosting refers both to traditional FTP hosting that you may still use to upload your website onto a web server and also to modern file-syncing solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive that allow you to work with the same set of files on multiple devices at the same time.
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- Video hosting allows you to watch video content without having to download it first. Popular websites that employ video hosting are YouTube and Vimeo.
- Audio hosting lets you listen to music through the Internet. Music streaming services like SoundCloud, Spotify, and Apple Music heavily rely on audio hosting to deliver their services.
- Image hosting is an Internet hosting service that focuses on storing and displaying images. Services like Instagram, Flickr, and 500px use image hosting and enable you to share your photos with the world.
- Game hosting is an Internet hosting service that makes online multiplayer games possible. There is also a new generation of game servers that are able to run the latest games and stream the gameplay to all of your devices. That way you can use your phone or tablet to play the latest console games even while you are on the go.
- Home server hosting lets you access things like your home printer and media center no matter where you are located. Through home server hosting you can also access any shared files from your home computer and you may even be able to use VPN functionality that would allow you to browse the web through your home Internet connection.
As you might have noticed, a lot of Internet hosting services are very closely tied together. So it makes sense that many service providers opt to offer Internet hosting service bundles instead of one-off services. For example, a web hosting company is likely to offer web, email, file, and DNS hosting as a single package. That way, you get all the tools necessary to successfully publish a website. Likewise, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide image, audio, video, and file hosting at the same time, so you can share any piece of content without any issues.
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What Level of Support Can I Expect From My Internet Hosting Service Provider?
Internet hosting services run the gamut when it comes to the level of support that is offered by the hosting provider. Broadly speaking, Internet hosting services can be classified as managed, self-managed, and unmanaged.
Managed hosting services are usually more expensive than others because you get a high level of support from the hosting provider. If you have a problem with the service, you can usually contact the provider and they will aid you in resolving the problem. Our free website hosting, premium shared hosting, and semi-dedicated server hosting plans are good examples of managed hosting services.
With a self-managed hosting service, on the other hand, you have more hands-on control. In most cases, the hosting provider will provide you with a server that has a minimal number of pre-installed applications and has a good Internet connection. It is essentially a blank slate where you are free to run any server software that you require. This type of hosting necessitates a higher level of technical knowledge since you will be responsible for the setup and maintenance of the server. The hosting provider will intervene only if there are issues with the hardware, power supply, or the broadband connection. VPS hosting is a good example of a self-managed service.
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Lastly, we will look at what makes unmanaged hosting services unique. These are services where you receive no support from the hosting provider. In fact, running a server on your home computer also classifies as an unmanaged hosting service. With these types of services, you usually have full control over the hardware and software of the server and you can fully customize it for your needs. As you might imagine, this type of hosting also requires more technical knowledge than all other management types.
How Is My Internet Hosting Service Bill Calculated?
Since Internet hosting can be found in both commercial and non-commercial settings, the way you pay for the hosting service can vary significantly. The three most popular ways of paying are:
- A monthly or annual billing that includes a predetermined amount of Internet traffic and a server with certain performance characteristics. If you exceed your traffic allotment, you may need to pay extra to the hosting provider. This type of billing is commonly employed by website hosting services.
- A pay-as-you-go billing approach where at the end of each month you pay only for the network and computing resources that you have used in the last 30 days. This is one of the fairest payment models since it provides full transparency into how your bill is calculated. Cloud hosting providers often use the pay-as-you-go billing model.
- A billing model where you only pay for electricity and your Internet connection. With this model, you are expected to bring your own server hardware. This is the most affordable monthly billing option, however, the cost savings are offset by having to purchase the hardware components needed by your server. Colocation hosting and home server hosting are the two most notable examples that employ this pricing model.
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Is Internet Hosting Secure?
Just like with pricing, Internet hosting services can range from very secure to not secure at all. The two main factors that determine a hosting service’s security level are the degree of support offered by the hosting provider and how knowledgeable the server owner is.
Unsurprisingly, managed hosting services are considered the most protected since security is handled by the hosting provider itself. Professional hosting companies like AwardSpace have dedicated security teams that have a single objective – to monitor the server network for intruders and introduce new security protocols when vulnerabilities are discovered. The security teams are also responsible for setting up firewalls and antivirus programs that scan the servers continuously for any potential threats. If you are using a managed hosting service, you will likely not need to perform any security-related tasks apart from keeping your website software up-to-date.
Self-managed hosting sits in the middle of the road when it comes to security. The hosting provider will intervene if an attack is affecting their entire server cluster, but in most cases, it will be up to you to harden your server and prevent intrusions. As such, a good level of technical knowledge is required to properly take care of your server. At the very least, you should follow our guidelines on how to protect a website so it does not get hacked.
Lastly, with unmanaged hosting, it falls entirely on you to secure your server. With this type of hosting you will not receive any support from the hosting provider if your server is compromised. As such, unmanaged hosting solutions are only recommended for individuals with prior system administration experience and for organizations that have their own dedicated IT departments.
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Internet hosting services truly permeate our culture. From social networks to multiplayer games, and personal blogs, Internet-connected servers allow us to effortlessly communicate with one another, sharing our experiences and ideas with the world.
Moreover, Internet hosting has become the bedrock in the business world as well. Banks, stock markets, large corporations, and small businesses alike all rely on servers to run their business, communicate with clients, and carry out financial transactions.
As a result, Internet hosting services are here to stay and we expect their impact on our lives to grow even more with time.