Internet Technologies/Web hosting
Web Hosting: An Introduction
What is Web Hosting?
When someone sets up a server and hooks it up to the Internet, the files on the server become accessible over the Internet. Web Hosting is the space on a Web server where you can upload files. If you upload HTML files, you'll have a Web site. If you upload .ZIP files, you'll have a download area. There are a lot of organizations that provide Web hosting.
What does Web Hosting do?
Most companies own their own servers these days, but some still pay for Web hosting. Let's say John Doe decides he wants to sell his paintings online. He purchases Web hosting, and sets up a Web site. Jane Doe, on the other hand, wants to set up a forum system. She purchases Web hosting and installs the forums. If you know how, you can make an entire Web site, or put any files you want, online, via your Web hosting.
In addition, over the last few years hundreds of "Web site softwares" have been written that, when installed onto your hosting account, give you an immediate Web site.
When looking for a Web site software, it's important to consider the software license. If you chose to use free software, you will have the advantage of new software releases that are made available free of charge. Commercial, albeit more powerful, alternatives are often available.
How and Where can I get hosting?
Web hosting is available in two forms — paid and free.
Paid Web hosting has a periodic fee, be it monthly, quarterly or annually, and typically provides considerable amounts of storage space for your files. Depending on the service, one may get additional support for server-side scripts, Web commerce support, visitor traffic reports, and so on. If the hosting service has high-speed connections to the Internet and fast server equipment, it may be able to provide access for many thousands of visitors and allow downloading of tens of gigabytes of files, and more, per day. Technical support is usually available around the clock, by telephone, Web chat or email, allowing the subscriber to resolve most problems in a few minutes, or, at most, in several hours.
Free hosting, on the other hand, typically has severely limited file storage space and low bandwidth provisions. It may be run on equipment that is just as capable as that used by paid hosting services, but it is usually an adjunct to some other business being carried out by the provider. Your Web pages will be presented to the site visitor along with advertising banners or pop-up advertisements as a way of recovering the cost of providing this free service to you. Support for server-side scripts may be limited or non-existent, as well as access to many of the basic functions that most Web hosting programs are capable of providing. Technical support is usually limited, usually by email only, with response times figured in days. If you are a novice, a free service may be the place to start, as they often provide semi-automated site-building templates and online tutorials.
With the recent drop in monthly fees for Web hosting — usually in the range of a few dollars a month for a basic plan — it is recommended that one subscribe to decent, commercial hosting service.
Free hosting sites are over-subscribed and would be good for those who do not mind waiting for periods of time for support resolution.
Reseller accounts allow clients to divide their account and sell or distribute these allocations to other users. For example, if John purchases a 10GB reseller account, he can then sell ten 1GB accounts. Shared hosting refers to the fact that there are usually 100+ people per server — in effect, "sharing" the server.
Types of hosting control panels
There are multiple types of hosting control panels available on the market. Each one is specifically designed for a particular operating system and type of web hosting. For example, some control panels are specific to Linux and others are specific to Windows. Some hosting control panels are designed for hosting resellers, while others are designed for shared web hosting or dedicated server hosting.
The most popular hosting control panels
DotNetPanel - Windows hosting control panel for creating, managing, and selling shared web hosting accounts, dedicated servers, virtual private servers, Exchange hosting, SharePoint hosting, Dynamics CRM hosting, and BlackBerry hosting.
cPanel - Linux hosting control panel by cPanel Inc. The company develops two control panels: 1) cPanel for end users and 2) Web Host Manager (WHM) for managing a dedicated server including creating and managing shared web hosting accounts and reseller hosting accounts. cPanel Inc. is working on a Windows hosting control panel platform.
Plesk - Windows and Linux hosting control panel. Integrated with a billing system and provides functionality to create, manage, and sell shared web hosting and reseller web hosting accounts.
DirectAdmin - Linux hosting control panel for creating, managing, and selling shared web hosting and reseller web hosting accounts.
Ensim - Linux and Windows hosting control panel for infrastructure management software enabling; access control, identity management, change audit & reporting, and automated provisioning for enterprises and service providers. Ensim Unify offers an integrated suite of tools for Active Directory, Exchange, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Google Apps, SharePoint, SQL, Office Communications Server (OCS), and Web Hosting – providing an automated, secure, compliant management environment that overlays existing infrastructure.
Interworx - The Interworx dedicated server hosting control panels include: 1) NodeWorx for system administrators and 2) SiteWorx for website administrators. Interworx runs on Linux dedicated servers and Linux virtual private servers.
Hosting Controller - Hosting Controller is a web hosting automation control panel designed for web hosting companies that offer services in a cluster environment. Web hosting companies can manage Windows and Linux servers through a centralized interface. Web hosting companies can diversify their hosting offerings by adding multiple mail servers within a cluster and offering MS-Exchange & SharePoint hosting.
Helm - Parallels Helm is a Microsoft windows control panel solution, empowering hosting providers to control, automate and sell products and services.
H-Sphere - Parallels H-Sphere delivers a multi-server hosting automation solution for Linux, BSD, and Windows platforms. H-Sphere includes its own controls panels, automated billing, and provisioning solution in a single integrated system. H-Sphere is scalable to any number of boxes. Web, mail, database, and Windows hosting servers can be added without downtime.
 Source of information: http://www.daveonwebhosting.com/web-hosting-control-panels/types-of-hosting-control-panels/
Comparison of Web hosting control panels at Wikipedia
More information is available on the Wikipedia article about Web Hosting.