Website hosting options

How do you host your own business website?

You can use an internet service provider (ISP) to host a simple website without worrying too much about the underlying technologies.

However, if you want to host the website yourself, you will need to understand what's involved and what operating systems, software and applications you may need.

Server operating systems

There are three core operating systems that enable web servers to run. These are:

  • Windows Servers
  • Unix
  • Linux


This can be provided by your hosting company, but often businesses choose to outsource this to a dedicated email provider such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google's G Suit for business.

Web server software

This software sits on top of the operating system and runs the web hosting services. It deals with all elements of hosting the web pages, including requests from visitors to view them, and running programs or scripts. The most common types of web server software are:

  • Apache
  • Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS)

Web Authoring languages

These are the software languages used to develop applications on the website. Examples include:

  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language) - a programming language used in the creation of simple web pages
  • CGI (Common Gateway Interface) scripts - used to produce dynamic and interactive web pages, eg JSP, PHP, ASP, Cold Fusion and Perl

Application development tools

These are types of web editor software used to design and develop web pages, and incorporate features such as graphics, multimedia and user interactivity. Examples include Microsoft Expression, Adobe Dreamweaver and Adobe Flash.


Database technologies can store large quantities of information that can be used to update information on your website. The solutions available to you will depend upon the volume of information you wish to hold and the likely web traffic that the system will have to support. Examples of high volume, high-traffic database systems include:

  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Oracle
  • PostgreSQL
  • MySQL


You can use a range of e-commerce software packages for the development of an e-commerce site. See how to set up an online shop with an e-commerce package.

Upgrade path

As your business expands and your website grows, it's important to have a plan for upgrading your hosting. There will often be additional costs and functionality required specific to the type of web application you are hosting. Sometimes it will be necessary to change your hosting arrangements to accommodate these additional requirements.