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A hosting service provider or web host supplies web hosting services that enable users to post web pages on the Internet. These services are not only limited to providing web space on a server but also include facilities like connectivity to T3 lines, protection against malicious hacker attacks, domain name registration, design and coding of websites.

Good web hosts even provide web templates that make hosting easier. Besides this, site owners can seek other facilities like FTP (file transfer protocol) access, e-mail, e-mail aliases, mail forwarding, shopping carts etc. These services are like one-stop hosting shops.

Most of these companies offer a range of packages to meet the needs of customers. Thus, an individual may aquire a starting pack that may enable him to host a few pages. At the other end, hosting services may provide dedicated hosting with unlimited web space and bandwidth.

The only service that web hosts don't handle is content creation. This is the responsibility of the site owner. The owner can develop the content himself or outsource its development to a third party.

Hosting services are available in many formats. There are some hosts that offer free hosting but in lieu they serve advertisements on user websites. However, there are very few users who make use of free services because they realize that they can't run long-term businesses using this model.

Paid hosting is the more common form of hosting. This comprises of shared, dedicated, or managed services. Here too, the costing decides the quality of service. Shared hosting is the cheapest. It involves hosting hundreds of websites on a single server.

Dedicated hosting involves providing a server to the customer, who has full control over the backend and operating system. The customer is also responsible for all maintenance and administrative work.

The most expensive is managed hosting. In this case, the web host takes the responsibility of both hardware and software maintenance. These services are especially useful for those customers who don't live in the same city where the server is located. They can leave server maintenance and all related problems to the web host, instead of hiring expensive server personnel.

There has been as sharp spurt in the number of hosting companies in recent years. This is on account of the number of websites that are being set up. The competition has reduced profit margins, and in some cases led to a downscaling of services. However, most web hosts make great efforts to keep their technology current. Not surprisingly, these are the companies that are most sought after by the customers.