As the internet market has grown and assimilated into global culture, becoming an integral part of our daily lives, more and more companies, small businesses, non-profits, and individuals are embracing the web, all desiring their own websites, tailored to their specific needs and interests, and expressing their goals and visions, while targeting specific audiences. Even individuals and companies known for their old-fashioned tenets and inflexible standards, are giving way to new standards in advertising and mass-marketing so easily and readily available on the web.
One of the greatest assets of the web is its ready accessibility from anywhere on the globe by the click of a mouse. All one needs is a computer, handheld device, or such peripheral with an Internet connection, and presto! You are connected to an enormous database of information on everything possible: from real estate and brokerage negotiations, to educational documents, research, and studies, to entertainment, media, and games; to libraries, health resources, and so much more - the list is 'virtually' endless.
Numerous web hosting companies have sprouted all over the globe, each outfitting clients with hundreds of MB of web space and domain names, as well as extra features such as easy to use templates for building websites, numerous mailboxes, large quotas for data transfer (20-60GB per month), marketing strategies, visitor statistical reports such as Urchin, password protection, FTP access, web blogs, audio and video streaming, PERL Debuggers, Message boards, Guestbooks, and hit counters in CGI script, mailing lists and autoresponders, file management and tech support resources, as well as live telephone support, often 24 hours a day. E-commerce sites will want to have additional special features that enable quick and seamless financial transactions, with secure encryption and SSL Digital Certificates, for visitors to their sites wishing to purchase products or services online.
Some web hosting companies such as the award-winning Earthlink Company based in Atlanta, GA in the United States, offer dual platforms, such as Unix and Windows. Considered the most versatile operating system, the Unix system supports freeware and shareware programs and offers maximal security. On the other hand, the Windows system hosts webpages designed in Microsoft Access as well as ASP or Active Server Programs. Depending on the needs of the client, web hosting companies offer a wide variety of services and amenities, with each increase in web space offering a substantial increase in web services accordingly. A general rule of thumb is that the client gets as much as they are willing to pay for.
There are three kinds of web hosting: shared, dedicated, or collocation. Shared web hosting, the least expensive, involves sharing a portion of an existing file server with other companies. Dedicated hosting is more expensive and allows for full control and access to a web server, with absolute control of processing power and storage space. This type of web hosting more than suffices for most businesses and enterprises.
The last but not least kind of web hosting, is collocation, in which the client provides all services such as hardware and software and the only task relegated to the web host is to ensure that the server remains connected to the internet. Collocation is truly for only the "die-hard" techie that has exceeded the generous boundaries of dedicated hosting.