An Internet hosting service is a service that runs Internet servers, allowing organizations and individuals to serve content to the Internet. There are various levels of service and various kinds of services offered.
A common kind of hosting is web hosting. Most hosting providers offer a combination of services; e-mail hosting, for example. DNS hosting service is usually bundled with domain name registration.
Generic kinds of Internet hosting provide a server where the clients can run anything they want (including web servers and other servers) and have Internet connections with good upstream bandwidth.
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A number of Internet access providers, such as America Online, offer subscribers free space for a small Web site that is hosted by one of their computers. Geocities is a Web site that offers registered visitors similar free space for a Web site. While these services are free, they are also very basic.
A number of hosting companies describe their services as virtual hosting. Virtual hosting usually implies that their services will be transparent and that each Web site will have its own domain name and set of e-mail addresses. In most usages, hosting and virtual hosting are synonyms. Some hosting companies let you have your own virtual server, the appearance that you are controlling a server that is dedicated entirely to your site.
Dedicated hosting is the provision of a dedicated server machine that is dedicated to the traffic to your Web site. Only very busy sites require dedicated hosting. Many companies purchase their own servers and place them on a site that provides fast access to the Internet. This practice is called colocation.