Web Hosting Basics

The mechanics of web hosting can get quite complicated, however getting a competent web host can be a phenomenal help, especially for those of us who are not well schooled in the area of web servers.

There are three general categories of web hosting, and depending on your needs you will fall loosely into one of these three categories. They are shared hosting, virtual private servers (VPS hosting), and dedicated server hosting.

Nearly everyone who’s stepping in the web business starts on some form of shared hosting, be it paid hosting or free hosting (like a geocities, angelfire, or xoom account). Shared hosting means your website is sharing a server with many other websites, which makes shared hosting very cost effective. On the downside, other websites can cause problems or vulnerabilities in the server, which can adversely affect your website. Also, you won’t be able to configure the server applications specifically to the needs of your website(s), and some applications you may require could be unavailable or an out of date version which is incompatible. Still, shared hosting is very cost effective and generally works very well for new websites.

The next step up is a virtual private server, which means you’ll be sharing a server with several other websites, but you will have your own portion of the server entirely to yourself. In other words your applications will be totally separate from those of other websites, so this becomes a much more versatile option for websites that require special software or guaranteed bandwidth/throughput rates (high traffic websites). Most virtual hosting offers a control panel that allows you to restart applications on your portion of the server as well, which saves the time of sending in a support ticket and waiting out a response.

Finally we come to dedicated servers. These are mainly used by full-time web developers and very large websites. Some sites even require multiple dedicated servers working in conjunction. A dedicated server is a server entirely dedicated to your website(s). They come in two flavors, managed and unmanaged. Managed dedicated servers are supported by your web host, who hopefully has a high level of expertise in setting up, hardening, and optimizing your server for your particular needs. Unmanaged dedicated servers are for those developers who have a high level of expertise in all aspects of web server software setup and management. The web host is renting you a server in their datacenter, which the developer will then setup (or pay someone to setup) to their specific needs.

The best favor anyone can do for themselves when deciding on a web host is to find one with a good, prompt, well educated support staff. Check out our Web Hosting Directory for a list of top notch web hosting companies.



Megabyte / Gigabyte: This is a measurement of data, generally referring to how much data a Hard Drive can hold or how much data has been transferred over a website

Bandwidth / Throughput: Bandwidth is the monthly allowance (limit) of data transferred over your website. 30 Gigabytes per month would mean visitors to your website could collectively download 30 Gigabytes worth of data (which includes files, pictures, videos, and everything else that gets transferred when a webpage loads). After which the webhost would charge you extra money or display a “bandwidth exceeded” notice in place of your website. Throughput is the speed at which data can be transferred at any particular time, which would affect download speeds for users if a large number of users were all downloading things from a single website at once.

Server: A server or web server is a computer configured to serve up webpages to anyone who visits the particular website the server is hosting. Servers for web hosting companies are generally rented from large datacenters, which are buildings which professionally house and manage large numbers of web servers and have connections to the very large backbone landlines of the internet. 

Control Panel: A control panel is a webpage that contains links to web utilities accessible through your browser, which allow you to configure different aspects of your website, check website statistics, and configure things like email and FTP.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol, the method with which a web developer connects to his or her server and transfers files back and forth.

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Reader Comments: (3 posts)

Yamary says:
Hi EdDo you see any error/warning events in OperationsManager event log? The RunAs account corresponds with my tomcat user in the tomcat-users.xml. If you used another user in the tomcat-users.xml then just use that account for the RunAs acfSont.Cheers,utecan
April 25th, 2016
at 9:59am EST
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Margaretta says:
Arilctes like this make life so much simpler.
April 23rd, 2016
at 3:04am EST
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Kairi says:
And to think I was going to talk to someone in preson about this.
August 13th, 2011
at 7:43am EST
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