An Internet Service Provider (ISP) connects your computer to the Internet. ISP provides you with an e-mail address and limited or full features of the Internet depending on the plan you purchase. Some plans are for limited downloads and limited services. Other plans include unlimited access. If you are doing serious business, unlimited access is the best plan you should choose.
Web hosting company that hosts a web site is a ‘web hosting provider’. You can select your ISP to host your website or select a different company to be your web host. Most Internet Service Providers give you limited amount of storage for your files that make up a website. But they do not provide you with necessary e-commerce facilities. You can set up a free website with a free web hosting service such as Free Server. But again you will not be allowed to conduct business on these free websites. They are limited in space and you might be allowed to have only two pages. It is advisable to select a web host carefully. It may depend upon what you really want to do with your website and the facilities your web host allows you according to their different plans. For example, Network Solutions describes the different plans that are available with them. You can select the plan according to your need.
Using web hosting services, you can create you web pages and upload them to your website using your computer. Your website is stored on the server, (web hosts computer) and connected to the internet. FTP is the commonly used protocol for exchanging files over internet. There must be two computers involved, your server (Web host), and your computer (Client). Once connected, you can do a number of operations such as uploading files to the server and downloading from the server including renaming and deleting files using your secure code. A full web hosting service will allow you to use CGI scripts. CGI script is a custom written common gateway Interface used in connection with other computers such as ordering information. Many web hosting services also provide multiple e-mail accounts, Shopping carts and a secure server to handle credit card processing. They also provide you with web page templates so that you can quickly create your own site. Other advantage of having a web hosting service is that you can have access to technical support when you need it.
Some companies with technical and financial resources, host their own website because they need high volume transactions. They also have sufficient staff to maintain their entire system.