Hosting can be FREE, SHARED or DEDICATED.
Some ISPs offer free web hosting.
Free web hosting is best suited for small sites with low traffic, like personal sites. It is not recommended for high traffic or for real business. Technical support is often limited, and technical options are few.
Very often you cannot use your own domain name at a free site. You have to use a name provided by your host like http://www.freesite.com/users/~yoursite.htm. This is hard to type, hard to remember, and not very professional.
|It's free.||No domain names.|
|Good for family, hobby or personal sites.||Few, limited, or no software options.|
|Free email is often an option.||Limited security options.|
|Limited or no database support.|
|Limited technical support.|
Shared hosting is very cost effective.
With shared hosting, your web site gets its own domain name, and is hosted on a powerful server along with maybe 100 other web sites.
Shared solutions often offer multiple software solutions like e-mail, database, and different editing options. Technical support tends to be good.
|Low cost. Cost is shared with others.||Reduced security due to many sites on one server.|
|Good for small business and average traffic.||Restrictions on traffic volume.|
|Multiple software options.||Restricted database support.|
|Own domain name.||Restricted software support.|
With dedicated hosting, your web site is hosted on a dedicated server.
Dedicated hosting is the most expensive option. This option is best suited for large web sites with high traffic, and web sites that use special software.
You should expect dedicated hosting to be very powerful and secure, with almost unlimited software solutions.
|Good for large business.||Expensive.|
|Good for high traffic.||Requires higher skills.|
|Multiple domain names.|
|Powerful email solutions.|
|Powerful database support.|
|Strong (unlimited) software support.|
Collocation means "co-location". Collocated hosting lets you place your own web server on the premises (locations) of a service provider.
This is pretty much the same as running your own server in your own office, only that it is located at a place better designed for it.
Most likely an ISP will have dedicated resources like high-security against fire and vandalism, regulated backup power, dedicated Internet connections and more.
|High up-time.||Requires higher skills.|
|High security.||Harder to configure and debug.|
|Unlimited software options.|
Before you choose your web host, make sure that:
Before you sign up with an ISP, surf some other web sites on their servers, and try to get a good feeling about their network speed. Also compare the other sites against yours, to see if it looks like you have the same needs. Contacting some of the other customers is also a valuable option.