Web Hosting Definition – Plus Other Hosting Services

Web hosting definitionEarthLink has been a leading Web hosting provider since way back in 1995. So it’s sometimes surprising to hear that people still don’t understand the term web hosting.

But we hear that all the time. And we’ve acted on that information too.

In fact, that’s why our main website navigation that takes visitors to our web hosting services is labeled Web Sites and the first link in that menu say Get a Website instead of just web hosting or web hosting services.

So this post is going to focus on one thing and one thing only: the definition of web hosting.

First, here are some expert definitions…

According to Wikipedia (today, at least), web hosting is defined as:

A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible via the World Wide Web.

According to the PCMag.com Encyclopedia, the definition of web hosting is:

Making a Web site available on the Internet. A Web site contains pages of information stored in a Web server, which is a computer running Web server software connected to the Internet.

According to TechTerms.com, the definition of a Web Host is:

In order to publish a website online, you need a Web host. The Web host stores all the pages of your website and makes them available to computers connected to the Internet.

But to help define web hosting in a way that’s clear for everybody, let’s broaden the context further and talk about hosting in general.

Everybody, I think, understands what it means to host a party – you have the party at your house. But you are more likely to say you are hosting a party if the party isn’t a personal one, like a birthday party.

Recently, friends of ours hosted a fundraising party for a local preschool at their house. It wasn’t their party; it was the preschool’s party.  But, by agreeing to host the party, our friends were making the party happen at their home and making sure everything went smoothly – guests could come, eat, have fun, and donate money – for the preschool.

The school could have hosted the party themselves, but that’s not what they’re experts at. And they don’t really have the right space or facilities to host a successful fundraiser. So they turned to someone else to host their party for them.

That’s the same basic idea with web hosting.

With Web hosting or website hosting, a company like EarthLink agrees (for a monthly fee) to host the website of a customer at their web hosting facilities. When we host a website, we are putting all the files for the customer’s website (HTML pages, images, etc.) on our server computers in our data centers and making the website open and available to whoever wants to visit. Of course, our Web Hosting services offer much more – domain names, site-building tools, search engine marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, etc. – but the core web hosting function is keeping other people’s websites publically available on our computers.

The websites we host are not our own websites: they belong to our customers. But our customers – mostly small and medium sized businesses – need someone to put their website online and make sure it is readily available to visitors.

It’s technically possible for someone to build and host their own website. But to do it well and have the site perform properly and be easily available, you need to have the right (expensive) equipment and expertise. Most individuals or businesses don’t have that expertise, so they turn to an expert in web hosting to host their website.

It is also possible for a business to have a webpage for their business on a 3rd-party site like Facebook. But that’s not web hosting, because Facebook is letting you promote your business on their website rather than hosting a website that belongs to you. The web address for your business on Facebook would be something like www.Facebook.com/YourBusiness because it is Facebook’s website, not yours. When you are a web hosting customer, your website is hosted at its own domain name; something more like www.YourBusiness.com. That’s why, when you decide to host your website with EarthLink, we offer a free domain name with most plans, and your first step will typically be to choose a domain name for your website.

Some of the confusion about the definition of web hosting probably arises because for most small businesses, they don’t initially turn to a web hosting provider to host a website they have. They don’t, in essence, say, “Here, take my website and put it on your computers so everyone can see it on the Web.” Because they don’t have a website yet, what they actually say is more like, “I finally decided I need a website” or “I want to get a website for my business.” They don’t necessarily know they need web hosting – just that they need a website. So we help with that too. We make it simple for people to build a website (or arrange for one of our professional website designers to build it for them) and then we host the website for them.

Here are some real world scenarios (from least common to most common) for how people get started with web hosting that may further clarify what web hosting is.

  1. A business has a website already (they built it themselves or had someone else build it) and has already registered a domain name. When they sign up with EarthLink Web Hosting, they transfer the domain name for the site to us and then they use an FTP program to upload the HTML files for their website to our web servers (we give them the settings to do this). We then host their webpages so their site is available online.
  2. A business has a domain name already but hasn’t built a website. When they sign up, they transfer their domain name to EarthLink Web Hosting; then they either use our free Site Builder to build a website (Site Builder uploads it automatically to their webspace) or have one our professional website designers take care of everything for them. We then host the site that they build.
  3. A business has a website already but has not registered a domain name. When they sign up with EarthLink Web Hosting, they choose a free domain name for their website. Then they use an FTP program to upload the HTML files for their website to our web servers. We then host their website.
  4. A business doesn’t have a website or domain. When they sign up with EarthLink Web Hosting, they choose a free domain name for their website. Then they either use our free Site Builder to build a website or have a professional website designer do it for them. We then host the website that they build.

For more context about hosting, consider some of the other types of hosting services offered by our EarthLink Business division:

  • Cloud Hosting – Rather than a business buying, storing, and managing server computers at their own facilities, we help them create virtual or cloud servers that we host in our secure data centers. They get secure remote access to their hosted cloud servers and use them as they would physical servers at their business — to host applications, databases, etc.
  • Hosted Voice – Rather than a business buying and managing a complex and expensive PBX phone system on their premises, we offer a fully featured IP PBX system that we host for them. So the business gets all the advanced phone functionality without the hardware costs and maintenance headaches.
  • Hosted Network Security – Rather than a business buying and managing complex and expensive security devices at each location, we offer a fully redundant network security solution that we host to give all business locations the same level of protection.
  • Hosted Exchange Email  Rather than a business buying email servers and managing Microsoft Exchange for all their users, we offer a hosted Exchange solution. Businesses avoid costs for hardware, licenses, backups, antivirus protection, and ongoing maintenance. They also get added security since their email is hosted in an EarthLink Business SSAE 16-compliant data center.

Hosted Voice Services Can Unify Your Team!

Hosted Voice systems are an important part of modern-day business. In the past, businesses have had limited ways of unifying office employees, multiple location workforces, and remote employees into a team environment. This is a major concern, as teamwork is what allows individuals and office locations to back each other up during outages,emergencies, and cover clients in different time zones.

earthlink hosted voice solutionAnd managing the calls and activities of each location was difficult, due to a lack of visibility and reporting possibilities. Each location (or remote employee) was stuck in its/his own communication bubble using separately-managed, low-end communication solutions (and we use that word loosely).

With the advent of call routing, network based auto-attendants, and communication portals that provide online visibility, all that can be left in the past! Businesses can now unify all of their locations, provide call routing based on single or multiple numbers, and run detailed reports; this gives leadership visibility into how their business is functioning, and the tools they need to assign responsibility and ownership to call functions. Being able to have all phone communications “under one roof” is even more important when you consider the growing number of remote employees in the workforce.

EarthLink Business wants to provide your company with the hosted voice solution it needs; contact an EarthLink Business resource today to find out how the EarthLink Hosted Voice product can change the way you do business!

Hosted Voice from EarthLink Business – Why it’s Different

EarthLink Business has created a rich portfolio of offerings that can change your business for the better. We have such a wide range of IT services that any business would be able to utilize us as a one stop shop. We are not the only consulting firm though, so what sets us apart? Here are three reasons to partner with EarthLink Business

  1. Only One Back to Pat – In the world of communications it is rare to partner with a single entity for an entire solution. Often you have to get your voice circuit from one company, the phone system from another and then the people that show up onsite are contracted out from a third business. Here at EarthLink, we own the entire process. From beginning to end, if you have an issue there is just one phone number to call. Your dedicated business relationship manager will help you with anything and everything without making you jump through hoops.
  2. The EarthLink Network is a Step Above the Rest – With any communication service, call quality is the most important component. Almost every provider claims to have QoS (Quality of Service) but that can equate to different variations of the technology. In the end, unless your provider owns the entire connection from beginning to end, they can’t really guarantee the quality of that call if it is not on their network. Additionally, QoS will only take you so far when you start to layer on other technologies. CoS (Class of Service) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class_of_service) is an offering that is offered by few and far between. EarthLink Business does all of the above and we do it well. Other best effort technology providers may offer you up front savings but if your communication platform quality suffers the loss of revenue will cancel out any savings, tenfold.
  3. Relax, We’ve Done This Before – Over the last several years, we have perfected the process of changing your business with our solutions (particularly Hosted Voice). We now have over 30,000 hosted phones running on our network. Each endpoint (phone) gives it’s user a versatile and flexible way to do business which helps them to be more productive and ultimately more profitable.

When you are ready to change your business for the better, contact your local EarthLink Business representative so that we can help you get there.


Hosted Voice: EarthLink’s Retail Communication Solution

Hosted Voice by EarthLink Business is being applied to the retail vertical more and more. It is a great way to unify any company that has a few to many locations with minimal telephony needs. Since EarthLink has so many options for blended access, we can create a cost effective customized solution that is a good economic fit for any customer and any size retail presence.

EarthLink Business is one of the few providers that can provide COS (Class of Service) over a DSL connection. With this offering, retailers can enjoy a business class connection at an extremely competitive cost. In the past, retail owners would have no way of unifying their store locations because each store would be stuck with a separately-managed, low end communication solution. But with the EarthLink Business Hosted Voice product we can unify all of the stores and provide detailed call accountability through call logs…giving leadership personnel visibility into how their business is functioning. In turn, they are able to fill in the gaps, adjust their dealings appropriately, and increase productivity (which can ultimately increase their profitability). Contact an EarthLink resource today to find out how the EarthLink Hosted Voice product can change the way you do business!