On the Internet, virtual hosting is the provision of Web server hosting services so that a company (or individual) doesn't have to purchase and maintain its own Web server and connections to the Internet. A virtual hosting provider is sometimes called a Web or Internet "space provider." Some companies providing this service simply call it "hosting." Typically, virtual hosting provides a customer who wants a Web site with: domain name registration assistance, multiple domain names that map to the registered domain name, an allocation of file storage and directory setup for the Web site files (HTML and graphic image files), e-mail addresses, and, optionally, Web site creation services. The virtual hosting user (the Web site owner) needs only to have a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program for exchanging files with the virtual host.
Some virtual hosting providers make it possible for customers to have more control of their Web site file system, e-mail names, passwords, and other resources and say that they are providing each customer a virtual server - that is, a server that appears to be entirely their own server. When a customer does indeed want to have its very own server, some hosting providers allow the customer to rent a dedicated server at the hosting provider's location. If a customer is allowed to place their own purchased equipment at the provider's location, this is known as colocation.