A file hosting service, online file storage provider, or cyberlocker is an Internet hosting service specifically designed to host user files. Typically they allow HTTP and FTP access. Related services are content-displaying hosting services (i.e. video, image, audio/music), virtual storage, and remote backup.

 

Uses

Software file hosting

Authors of Shareware, Freeware and Open Source/Free software often use file hosting services to serve their software. The inherent problem with free downloads is the huge bandwidth cost. To cover this cost, many sites intentionally delay the starts of downloads and slow down downloading speeds in order to persuade a user to buy a premium, paid account on the site for better service, a practice much criticized by those who do not use these sites often. These hosts also offer additional services to the authors such as statistics or other marketing features.

Personal file storage

Personal file storage services are aimed at private individuals, offering a sort of "network storage" for personal backup, file access, or file distribution. Users can upload their files and share them publicly or keep them password-protected.

Prior to the advent of personal file storage services, off-site backup services were not typically affordable for individual and small office computer users.

Sometimes people prefer hosting their files on a publicly accessible HTTP server. In this case, they generally choose paid hosting, and use their hosting for this purpose. Many free hosting providers do not allow the storage of files for non-website-related use.

Content caching

Content providers who potentially encounter bandwidth congestion issues may use services specialized in distributing cached or static content. It is the case for companies with a major Internet presence.

Storage

Some online file storage services offer space on a per-gigabyte basis, and sometimes include a bandwidth cost component as well. Usually these will be charged monthly or yearly. Some companies offer the service for free, relying on advertising revenue. Some hosting services do not place any limit on how much space your account can consume. Some services require a software download which makes files only available on computers which have that software installed, others allow users to retrieve files through any web browser. With the increased inbox space offered by webmail services, many users have started using their webmail service as an online drive. Some sites offer free unlimited file storage but have a limit on the file size.

Some organizations recognize the benefits of co-locating their mission-critical equipment within a data centre. Colocation is becoming increasingly popular because of the time and cost savings a company can realize as a result of using shared data centre infrastructure. Significant benefits of scale (large power and mechanical systems) result in large colocation facilities, typically 5,000-10,000 m² (50,000 to 100,000 square feet). With IT and communications facilities in safe hands, telecommunications, Internet, ASP and content providers, as well as enterprises, enjoy less latency and the freedom to focus on their core business.

Additionally, customers reduce their traffic back-haul costs and free up their internal networks for other uses. Moreover, when network traffic is outsourced to a colocation service provider with greater bandwidth capacity, web site access speeds improve considerably.

Major types of colocation customers are:
Web commerce companies, who use the facilities for a safe environment and cost-effective, redundant connections to the Internet
Major enterprises, who use the facility for disaster avoidance, offsite data backup and business continuity
Telecommunication companies, who use the facilities to interexchange traffic with other telecommunications companies and access to potential clients

Most network access point facilities provide colocation.

Common file hosting services include MediaFire, MegaUpload, ZShare, Softonic and many more.