Before we talk about what virtual web site hosting is, let's first talk about what web site hosting is in general. If you want to set up a web site for something like a home based business, you will need to find a web hosting company to publish your website and keep it online so that users can visit it.
Technically, if you were a computer whiz you could do this yourself, but if you are more interested in ecommerce it is better to let someone else do it. The web site hosting company has many servers (computers) and they will charge you a monthly fee to store your website on their computer and let users view it. If you would like to launch an ecommerce store, the web hosting company will supply you with ecommerce tools and even help you build your website.
There are different web site hosting plans, much like when you get a mobile device like a phone or a laptop computer. Different plans will let you do more and have more options like more disk space (data storage) or more bandwidth (so more users can visit each month). As well, different hosting plans will give your website more advantages over others.
The three different types of hosting plans are dedicated, virtual and shared hosting. Dedicated hosting means that your website will get its own server (computer). This can be a great advantage if you have a large website where you plan to do a huge volume of business. A shared hosting plan means that you will share the server (computer) with many other websites.
Somewhere in between is where you will find virtual web site hosting. With virtual hosting, you will have more than one website on each computer, but each website is partitioned off so that it has the same characteristics as a website on a dedicated server. For example, each website will have its own operating system, so that it can be rebooted by itself if necessary.
You will also have more access to the files on the server if you have FTP access which many virtual hosting companies provide. However, some virtual hosting is name based, which means you will share the same IP address as other websites. If you want your own IP address, you will have to ask for it.
With virtual hosting, you will also have more control over e-mail names, subdomains and other features that you cannot get with shared hosting. Many midsized businesses enjoy virtual hosting because it can handle the business of their company, but also because if they have an IT on staff, the website will perform much better and changes can be implemented quickly.
Virtual hosting is also much cheaper than dedicated hosting. Some webhosting companies will also not make you sign a yearly contract, so you can change hosting companies more easily if necessary. Virtual hosting also gives you more access to the technical staff at the webhosting company if you need it. So while shared web site hosting is fine for websites with less traffic, and dedicated hosting is suitable for larger companies, virtual hosting is perfect for small ecommerce businesses with a fair amount of traffic.