What is Virtual Hosting?
A Virtual Web Hosting provider hosts your website by placing it on a computer (also called a "server", since it "serves" content up to Web surfers) which are designed specifically to host websites. Servers are directly connected to the Internet backbone on fast communication links (much like phone lines, only these lines are bigger, and carry digital data, instead of voices). Your website will reside on one of servers at a web host's facility, yet you can view it and work on it from your own PC. This is virtually like having a computer of your own, hence the term Virtual Web Hosting.
More simply put — when looking for a web hosting company you may see the terms virtual hosting. These terms, which are identical in meaning, signify the server housing your website also houses many other websites, often a few hundred. Although these other websites are housed on the same server, they do not interact with your site in any way - they have their own domain name, and use their own files. All they are sharing is the actual hardware - the server and its connections to the Internet.
The reason this is done is primarily economic. Servers are expensive to purchase, and need constant care and attention to keep them running at an optimum level, which costs even more money. For most small businesses or groups or individuals, the costs involved in buying and maintaining a server would mean they would never be able to establish a website. However with virtual hosting the web hosting company provides the hardware, the network connections needed to access the Internet and the support staff and resources needed to maintain the server. Since these costs can then be spread amongst many users then the price per user is far lower.
Virtual hosting has many advantages for the user. As mentioned above, the biggest of these is the cost. A virtual hosting plan suitable for a simple website will probably cost only a few dollars a month. Since the hosting company is responsible for any technical issues that may arise, all the user has to do is to keep the website updated. There is no need to hire technical support staff, and no need for expensive network connections.
Another advantage is access to several different types of service that may come bundled with the Web Site Hosting plan. Most plans include the ability to set up email accounts if needed. Other features may include access to online shopping carts, the ability to create online catalogs, or different ways of accepting credit card payments through the website.
Typically the set-up time for a virtual hosting plan is quick. Once you have established an account with a Business Hosting company, you should be able to start uploading your website to the server within just a few minutes. Remember though it will take anywhere from 48 - 72 hours for your site to become fully available as it takes this long for domain name changes to propagate across the Internet.
For the vast majority of small companies or groups, virtual web hosting is the best means currently available to establish their own presence on the Internet. It is quick, affordable and cost-effective, and does not require any great technical expertise from the user.