Website hosting provides the means to make your website accessable to the world via the World Wide Web.
A number of different types of hosting is available:
Virtual Dedicated Server
Your website is hosted at a provider's premises. Each physical server is divided into a number of virtual servers. Each user feels like they're on their own dedicated server, but they're actually sharing a server with many other users/businesses. This is why the cost can be so low.
This is the most common and cost effective solution for most small-medium businesses. The server is housed in a protected environment where standby power and backup hardware is cost effective. The provider maintains the hardware and software and applies necessary security patches. You do not need to have any specialist IT knowledge to manage your website under this arrangement.
An example of this hosting is - our main website which is hosted with Webcity - 100% Australian Owned. Excellent service, heaps of space, email accounts and affordable pricing - Web Hosting from $7.95 - Small Business Hosting Specialists, 24/7 Australian Phone Support . We particularly recommend the Business Pro Package for the small business website. If you are going to be running a few websites, you can do them on the same hosting, but instead you will need to consider either the Business Pro5 packages.
You can host a website on your own computer using a web server application such as Apache or Microsoft IIS.
This is may be a viable option for hosting a local intranet service available only within your organisation.
The work load and cost of keeping your server up to date with security patches, providing backup hardware and standby power needed if your server is connected to the internet make this option unviable for most small -medium businesses. This also requires specialist IT network knowledge & experience.
Dedicated (private) Hosting Service
Your website is hosted at a provider's premises - however, you have a whole physical server for your exclusive use. This may be an advantage if you wish to run special software. You can choose to gain full control over the security and maintenance of the server.
Generally the extra expense of this type of hosting is not justified for small businesses, but it may be for medium business depending on what applications are to be setup on the website.