Many new clients get a project finished and then wonder what the next step is. To get a site from the development environment and into the great World Wide Web requires you to put your site up on a server (which is just a special computer designed to display Web sites). There are lots of different types of hosting accounts to consider, but here are a few.

  • Free web hosting service: There are a ton of companies that offer up Free web hosting often with limited services and/or advertisements that you are forced to display on your site.
  • Shared web hosting service: This is probably the most common way that people start off in the web hosting world. In shared hosting, one's website is placed on the same server with many other sites. This could be a few to hundreds or thousands and, often, all domains share a common pool of server resources, such as RAM and the CPU. The features available with this type of service can be quite extensive and it is usually a great place to start when looking for your first hosting service.
  • Virtual Dedicated Server: (also known as a Virtual Private Server or VPS) This type of hosting divides the server resources into virtual servers, where resources can be allocated in a way that does not directly reflect the underlying hardware. This setup will frequently allocate resources based on a one server to many VPSs relationship. The users may have root access to their own virtual space and sometimes customers are responsible for patching and maintaining their server.
  • Dedicated hosting service: your site gets its own Web server with full control over it; however, the user usually does not own the server. This setup is typically unmanaged meaning the client is responsible for the security and maintenance of his own dedicated server.
  • Managed hosting service: this type of dedicated server means that your site gets its own Web server but you are not allowed full control over it. Usually, you are still allowed to manage your data via FTP or other remote management tools. This is done so that the provider can guarantee quality of service by not allowing the user to modify the server or potentially create configuration problems.
  • Colocation web hosting service: this is a very common setup similar to the dedicated web hosting service, but the user owns the server and the hosting company provides physical space that the server takes up and takes care of the server. This is the most powerful and expensive type of the web hosting service. Often, the provider may provide little to no support directly for their client's machine, providing only the electrical, Internet access, and storage facilities for the server.
  • Clustered hosting: Clustered Servers are a perfect solution for high-availability dedicated hosting since they are when you take a number of servers and connect them together to increase the power of the server. This is usually only reserved for very popular and highly used sites.
So, the best advice is to analyze your site, determine how much traffic it might get and how much control you want over the management of the hardware. Then it should be as easy as just shopping around and doing your homework.