Professional web hosting is a vital part of the infrastructure of the World Wide Web. A website's owner pays a professional web hosting company to place her site on a specially designed computer called a server that provides a home for the site's digital files. When an Internet user types in a website's address they are sent to that particular server to view the files as a Web page.
Professional web hosting companies offer different levels of service depending on the needs of customers. Free Professional web hosting services provide Web pages for no cost, but with very limited technical support. Small business owners and non-profit groups find shared or virtual hosting plans affordable, because dozens of different websites share storage space on a single server. A website getting a large number of visitors is hosted on its own dedicated server.
As of 2010, shared/virtual hosting can cost less than $10 a month. Dedicated Professional web hosting can cost $200 or more per month. Large corporations host their websites on their own servers. This is the most expensive because the companies must pay for all their own hardware, software and technical support staff.
Web hosts also offer additional services that allow customers to conduct all their business online, such as software applications, email accounts, domain registration, website templates, custom website design, search engine optimization, credit card processing and other ecommerce options. Web hosts also offer 24-hour sales and technical support online or via phone.
Professional web hosting companies provide both physical and virtual security services. Servers are stored in a secured building monitored at all times in case of a fire, security breech or other emergencies. Also, Professional web hosting companies provide antivirus software and other online security measures so hackers cannot break into their customers' websites.
Not all Web hosts are created equal, according to "Starting an Online Business for Dummies" author Greg Holden. He advises to research which Professional web hosting provider is best for any particular kind of website, because changing Professional web hosting companies can be an expensive and time consuming headache. A business owner would have to spend more money rebuilding the original website when it is transferred to a new Internet hosting company.