Web hosting is an Internet service that allows businesses and individuals to make their website accessible via the web 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
A Web host will typically provide space on a server that they own or rent providing high speed internet connectivity for use by their clients. The servers are usually located in high security, air conditioned data centres with backup power systems and high speed fibre optic connections to the internet.
The range of services each web hosting company offers varies greatly. The most basic hosting allows the end user to upload static html web pages with images and media, where files can be uploaded via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or a control panel based file management system.
Static web files are delivered to the Web "as is" with little processing done by the web server. More advanced web hosting accounts use interpreted scripting languages such as PHP or Perl to generate dynamic content stored in a database such as MySQL. These facilities allow the businesses and individuals to write or install scripts for applications like message boards and content management systems.
For e-commerce websites the hosting provider will usually also supply an SSL service to ensure that the customer credentials are transferred securely accross the internet. The host may also provide a control panel for managing the hosting account and the various services that come with.
People can obtain Web hosting from many different service providers all offering slightly different packages at competing rates. Web site hosting is typically inexpensive and free from advertising.