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Which is the best way to refer to a company that hosts your website:

My web host supports Ruby.

or

My web hoster supports Ruby.

or

My web hosting service supports Ruby.

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What about web server? –  Chris Aug 17 '10 at 7:47
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Web server seems to me more commonly to refer to the actual machine serving the web pages, as opposed to the service supplying the hosting. That may be related to my background in IT, however. –  cori Aug 17 '10 at 10:44
    
@Edward can you be more specific about what these three terms are supposed to refer to? Do you mean the machine running the software, the business that provides you the machine, or something else? –  Chris Aug 17 '10 at 13:01
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I don’t see how “web hoster” would ever be an expected form. One that hosts is a host not a hoster. –  nohat Aug 17 '10 at 22:44
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@nohat even Wired.com uses "web hoster": wired.com/threatlevel/2007/10/controversial-r –  Edward Tanguay Aug 18 '10 at 7:00
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5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

In casual speech and conversations on the internet, the usual terminology is "web host". If you need a more formal description then you might want to go with "web hosting service". "My web hoster supports Ruby" sounds distinctly odd to me. It might occur in a sentence like

"Well-known web hoster doteasy today announced record profits".

Incidentally one way to compare terms like this is to count the number of Google hits you get with the words in quotes. I get

Web host              2,800,000 hits
Web hosting service   1,000,000 hits
Web hoster               30,000 hits
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And "web server" has about 17,800,000 hits, making it a hands down winner over "web host". –  Chris Aug 17 '10 at 12:57
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@Chris: "web server" means something different to me. A "server" is a computer that "serves" clients. A "Web Server" is a computer that gives web pages to people who connect with a web browser. Your Web Host operates your web server for you. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 17 '10 at 13:12
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I've never heard "web hoster" and "web hosting service" seems verbose to me. "Web host" is the generally accepted term, as far as I know.

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This is one of those terms that is still being played out, e.g. even Reuters uses "web hoster": reuters.com/article/idUSL1562821520071016 –  Edward Tanguay Aug 17 '10 at 5:53
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That is interesting, and the first time I have ever seen that usage. –  cori Aug 17 '10 at 10:42
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For me, that's just a sign of a not-so-tech-savvy editor. I remember reading about a woman who started a "Web-based Internet blog" in a major newspaper only a few months ago. Alas, being major doesn't imply being literate. –  RegDwigнt Aug 17 '10 at 12:03
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I normally say "Ruby is included in the (web) hosting service for my website"; actually, I would say "Ruby on Rails is included in the (web) hosting service for my website.
The difference for me is that saying "the web server includes Ruby" seems to mean it will never be removed; saying "the hosting service includes Ruby" means that it will be included until they don't change the service.

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Of the choices provided, the best way to refer to a company that hosts your website is your third option web hosting service.

Based on a COCA[1] query web hosting 6 times more common that web host, and web hoster yields no hits. BTW, web server is 11 times more common that web host. Personally, I find your third option the best: My web hosting service supports Ruby. I could just as well go with: My web server supports Ruby.

[1] Google is generally accepted to be worthless as a corpus search tool. This is why it is better to use a real corpus. COCA is good for american english and BNC is good for british english.

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But of what relevance is "web hosting", which will almost always refer to web hosting in general, and not be interchangeable with "web host/er"? And why do you assert that "web host" is incorrect? –  Colin Fine Aug 17 '10 at 10:01
    
Chris, I'm sure that the term "web host" is in use. I don't accept that Google results are worthless. –  delete Aug 17 '10 at 11:58
    
@Colin The relevance of "web hosting" is that it is part of "web hosting service". –  Chris Aug 17 '10 at 13:06
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I already commented on this in reply to one of your comments, but for the benefit of this answer: a web server is not the same thing as a web host(ing service). –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 17 '10 at 13:14
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Incidentally, in the IT industry, we talk about web hosts all the time. I'd say it's definitely correct. I've never heard anyone say "web hoster". In fact I don't recall every seeing the word hoster in any circumstances ever. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 17 '10 at 13:16
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  • "Web host" - The physical computer hardware your web content is hosted on.
  • "Web hosting service" - The product offered to a customer by a company.
  • "Web hosting service provider" - The actual company. Shorter versions possible like "Web Hosting Provider" etc.

I don't agree that you could call the company the "Web host" and just randomly looking at some company web pages, none of them call themselves a "Web host" but a "XYZ Provider".

Just looking the google stats doesn't seem to be a good idea to me because...well, we would expect to find more references to the thing being provided than the providing company itself (you will find "car" more often than "car manufacturer").

"hosting provider" 2,030,000 results

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